1970s Kay (Japan-made) 5-String Resonator Banjo

A friend of mine brought this in for consignment. He's had it for a few years and decided to call it quits on learning to play banjo. He's a classical guitar aficionado, so it wasn't like I didn't foresee this happening, heh heh. While most Kay instruments actually were made in the Kay factory in Chicago, this is one of this latter-era, import Kays from the mid-late '70s.

It's Japanese-made and has the usual import-style aluminum rim of the time. This design is still in use on student-level Chinese and Korean banjos, if you can believe it! The resonator and neck are a little nicer than the average instrument of this style, and some clever person replaced all the tuners with newer geared, Grover units. That's a big leap forward in functionality, for sure.

Tone-wise, these have an interesting poppy sound to them that's also a bit mellow and sweet. Even if you crank the head real tight on these you're never going to get a full-on brittle, piercing twang from this style of rim. Because of that I think these suit folksier styles better than "true" bluegrass.

Repairs included: a setup and added compensation to the bridge.

Setup notes: the neck is straight, the frets are in good order (though I didn't level/dress them), strings are "10s" in gauge, action is 1/16" at the 12th fret, and the neck is straight.

Scale length: 26 3/8"
Nut width: 1 3/16"
String spacing at nut: 15/16"
String spacing at bridge: 1 5/8"
Head diameter: 11"
Resonator diameter: 13 1/2"
Rim depth: 3 1/4"
Rim material: aluminum
Neck wood: mahogany
Fretboard wood: rosewood
Bridge: maple w/ebony+plastic top, comp'd
Neck feel: slim-medium C-shape, flat board

Condition notes: it's pretty clean overall but has replacement tuners. I also removed the two strap-holder gizmos from the rim (they'e stowed in the case) as they rattle annoyingly. I added a second "positioning" bolt to the rim/heel joint to keep the neck from rotating when adjusting the coordinator rod or neck tightness. It's good to go.

It comes with: a nice, hard, TKL (Canadian) case.