1980s Liberty Banjo Company "Monstertone" 5-String Resonator Banjo

This "Gibson" is in fact a MasterClone (with flathead tonering) made by the defunct Liberty Banjo Company out of Connecticut. It's the favorite instrument of its owner and has a few tricks up its sleeve -- most notably a huge, in-your-face, rivet-busting volume and tone... and a steeply-radiused fretboard over a medium-large neck profile. It both sounds and plays like a champ, even with uneven fretwear and a bit of twist to the neck in frets 1-5.

Liberty instruments are high-quality products and this one is definitely getting up there in the fancy department with its profuse, vintage-style inlay, headstock "strapping," Lange-style purfling, and figured walnut neck. It's had some play in the hands of a select number of big-name players, too, from time to time.

Work included a light setup, compensation of the bridge, and install of Waverly pegs at the headstock to replace some worn-out vintage tuners. Specs are close to an average Gibson, though the nut width is a hair wider and the neck has a fuller profile.

The radiused, ebony fretboard sits over a medium-thickness, C-shaped neck. It fills the hand but the radius makes it play fast and comfortable. I have to admit that I'm a little put-off by it on a 5-string, though. I'm so used to flat boards on them!

How about that neck, right?

That trim is classy.