1890s A.C. Fairbanks Special Number 0 5-String Banjo

A consignor brought this banjo up a long while back. Boston-made Fairbanks instruments are nice-quality builds but this one clearly had a rough life. There were a lot of small things to patch-up about it, though at least the replacement FiberSkyn head was good to go when it arrived.

Fairbanks instruments of this plain-Jane style were made in the 1890s and intended for gut (or, these days, nylon or fluorocarbon or Nylgut) strings. They have a warm, folksy, "classic banjo" tone -- and it's my favorite banjo tone. Old gut-strung Buckbee 5-strings were what really cemented me working on old instruments in the first place.

Unlike many period instruments, it has a full 11" rim and the spunover rim design has an "integral" tonering on the top edge -- the nickel-plated brass is rolled-over a brass hoop. It has a full 26" scale length, too.

Repairs included: a fret level/dress, seating of all the frets, repairs to chipped-out/missing bits of the fretboard, new friction pegs all-around, a replacement bridge, a few replacement hook/nuts and shoe on the rim, replacement nut, cleaning, and a setup.

Setup notes: the neck is straight and action is bang-on (for gut/nylon strings) at 3/32" at the 12th fret. Strings are Aquila Nylgut and the frets are just as low/small/slim as they were originally, but in decent order.

Scale length: 26"
Nut width: 1 3/16"
String spacing at nut: 1"
String spacing at bridge: 1 3/4"
Head diameter: 11"
Rim depth: 2 3/8"
Rim material: maple? with spunover nickel-plated brass
Neck wood: cherry?
Fretboard wood: ebonized maple
Bridge: ebony/maple vintage
Neck feel: medium soft-V shape, flat board

Condition notes: this has a lot of wear and tear throughout and some repaired/patched small hairline cracks in the fretboard. There's fill at the end of the fretboard after the last fret and also some fill around the 5th peg where someone had blown-out the peg's hole and repaired it. The tuners are all replacements and a small portion of the rim hardware is comprised of 1920s replacement bits. The tailpiece looks 1920s as well. This originally had a small-bolt-adjustable neck brace but that area of the rim actually blew out when I adjusted it tight. It looks like it'd been goofed-with before. I replaced that with a simple bolt-and-washer neck-heel attachment that's more rigid and functional, anyhow.