5/05/2018

1890s/1960s Homemade Longneck 5-String Banjo




This crazy old banjo is a '60s-era homemade neck mated to an 1890s Buckbee-made banjo rim. It's folksily-built but now that I've gone through it, it's a great player and despite its oddities, has a good tone and decent volume, too. It's certainly not a Vega or a Gibson longneck, but it gets the job done and has oodles of -- eh, yeah -- mojo.

Work included reseating and leveling/dressing the frets, a new bone nut, bolt-attachment for the neck to the rim, lots of setup work, railroad spikes up to the "7th" fret for the drone, side dots, and general cleaning and whatnot. Whoever pounded in the frets sucked at the work, to put it plainly, though now they're all level and the plane of the frets only has a hair-over 1/64" deflection over its entire length tuned to ptich. That's basically dead-straight which is pretty impressive for a home-built job and its long, 32" scale.

Specs are: 32" scale, 1 3/16" nut width, 29/32" string spacing at the nut, 1 11/16" spacing at the bridge, 11" rim, and 2 1/4" side depth. Action is hair-under 3/32" at the 12th fret and it's strung with regular 9s for gauges, though 10s might be fine on it, too. The neck has a medium-depth, V-shape to it with flatter sidewalls. Maybe a V/U-shape hybrid?

The neck is 3-piece mahogany/rosewood/mahogany with an ebony fretboard, the rim is a spunover affair with a ton of hooks and no tonering, and the head is a Remo FiberSkyn synthetic. It has decent 4:1 geared tuners at the headstock and a friction ('60s Grover Perma-Tension) 5th peg. I re-buttoned all of them to match, however.




The headstock has this bit of damage to it.


As you can see in the details, the board is a little buggered-up finish-wise. I think a sealer coat was added to it at some point. The dots are pearl.






There are extra mystery holes on the back of the headstock next to the tuners but I left them as-is since they're not hurting anything.




The old Buckbee rim has two holes next to the dowel where it would've originally had two bolts for the 1890s neck. This banjo came with an obnoxious shim-style neck brace which I removed in favor of a simple bolt/screw attachment into the bottom of the heel. This works much better and is a lot more secure.



The hooks and nuts for the rim are all newer, '60s or later stuff -- though the shoes are original.


It comes in this deluxe vintage gun case.

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