7/12/2018

1883 Fairbanks & Cole Openback 5-String Banjo




The serial number on this F&C places it right at 1883 and she's a beaut. Aside from the misplaced fret markers from frets 5 and up, I have no complaints. The neck is nice and straight (and has a quick, C-shaped profile), it has a plainspoken and crisp voice, and the styling is folksy but refined. The rim has no tonering and overall it's a very lightweight instrument.

Work included a fret level/dress, new bridge install, cleaning, a new Elite Renaissance-style Remo head, patching of a bit of missing fretboard, and a good setup with Aquila Nylgut strings. When this was made, it was definitely intended for gut -- and steel-string tension does not make this neck happy (it came with them on it). A customer brought this in for sprucing-up and I'm sure he's going to be pleased when he gets it home to frail with.

Specs are: 27" scale, 1 1/4" nut width, 1" string spacing at the nut, 1 11/16" spacing at the bridge, 11" rim diameter, and 2 1/4" depth. Action is set at hair-over 1/16" at the 12th fret.



The friction pegs on the instrument aren't original to it but serve fine for the Nylgut strings.


While the neck is walnut and the headstock veneer is rosewood, the fretboard itself is ebonized maple with pearl inlay.







I love that "boat heel" shape.




The F&C banjos tended to have this cute little banjo-shoe-thingy neck brace device to tighten-up the neck to the pot.



How about the inlaid trim at the bottom of the rim?

Also -- how about that hardware?



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