1890s Morrison-Style 5-String Openback Banjo

A local customer brought this banjo in to tidy-up for his friend. When I first saw it, I said to myself, "I know that weird headstock shape." I couldn't quite place it but then I realized that I'd worked on a very close one just a couple years ago that bore the Morrison mark. While I'm guessing that these were Buckbee products, I can't be 100% sure. It was obviously built to a nice quality back in the day, but it's definitely a bit run-down, now. It did shape-up into a great-sounding, good-playing instrument, however. Tonally it's very bright and forward and favors a light touch.

Work included: a fret level/dress, fret seating, new Remo Renaissance head, new minstrel-style bridge, replacement 5th pip and some repair to damaged sections of the fretboard, general cleaning, and a setup. The neck is almost straight but does have a little twist/relief in the middle. Nevertheless, it plays as it should with 3/32" action at the 12th fret -- the height I prefer for nylon/gut strings -- and it's strung with an Aquila Nylgut all-plain set.

Specs are: 26" scale length, 1 1/4" nut width, 1 1/16" string spacing at the nut, 1 3/4" spacing at the bridge, 11" head diameter, and 2 1/2" side depth.

Materials are: ebonized maple fretboard, walnut(?) neck, ebonized maple headstock veneer, fancy pearl inlay in the board, and original fittings save 6-7 hook/nuts (vintage replacements from my bins), a replacement tailpiece, and replacement head and bridge.

Condition notes: it was missing its neck brace, so I replaced it with a simple screw-tight/bolted neck attachment. As noted, various hardware is missing/replaced. The finish is also quite distressed on the neck and it's definitely bumped-around in storage a lot judging by the very worn edges and dried-out woods on the neck.

The early Grover Champion pegs are doing just fine and work well for the Nylgut strings on here. Someone had steel strings on this for years and they didn't help the neck's situation as these banjos were intended for gut when they were made.