1970s Nashville Masterclone 5-String Banjo

A local customer was given this Japanese-made banjo in a run-down state. He's more into folksy stuff than bluegrass, though, so when I did it up I removed the flange and armrest and gave it an old-time, openback setup. Personally, I think it sounds awesome. I do love an openback with a flathead tonering. It goes pop and yet it's sweet, too -- and takes nothing to drive it so you can lighten-up your approach and add some nuance to your play.

While it bears the "Nashville" brand at the headstock, this one's reminiscent of Tokai/Gold Star banjos and some of the higher-end Iida/Alvarez instruments. It's a very good Mastertone copy and even has a proper super-ply rim and hook-hoop that's independent of the flange. That made the conversion to openback easy, for sure.

The neck is fast but it's more of a "vintage" style with a medium-depth, C-shaped profile and flat fretboard. Overall, while the instrument came-in dirty (and could still use some extra cleaning), it's in decent shape. It has the benefit of a good set of 4:1 geared pegs and a geared 5th peg, too.

Work included: a new Elite head (the original was torn in two places), compensation of the original bridge, conversion to openback, and a good setup. The truss-rod works as it should and the neck is straight. Action is 1/16" at the 12th fret, but a quick twist of the coordinator rod would bring it up to a more old-time-friendly 3/32" or so.

The nut is bone.