1940s Kay-made 5-String Openback Banjo

I've worked on a lot of old Kay 5-strings and several of this same model. This one dates from the late '30s or early '40s and it has the usual metal pad of the era for its adjustable-neck-angle gizmo. These have a single coordinator rod setup, long-as-heck 27"+ scale length, and narrow string spacing. Models like this (bare bones and with no resonator) tend to sound woody and warm but with good sustain. They're "old-timey" despite themselves!

This one appears to have a replaced, handmade tension hoop (copper!) and a tailpiece that was, at one point, painted gold. Odd, huh? After going-over it, it plays nice and quick and is a good choice for a reliable, take-anywhere sort of instrument.

Repairs included: a fret level/dress, side dots install, geared tuners install (this had friction pegs before, ew), replacement vintage Remo head (the original skin one was damaged), new maple/ebony bridge, mod of the neck-adjustment-gizmo to get it better-fit and the heel "locked" in place at a good angle with an additional bolt, cleaning, and setup.

Setup notes: action is spot-on at 1/16" at the 12th fret overall. The neck is straight and it's wearing 9s at the moment.

Scale length: 27 3/8"

Nut width: 1 1/8"

String spacing at nut: 15/16"

String spacing at bridge: 1 3/8"

Head diameter: 11”

Depth overall at rim: 3"

Rim wood: maple ply

Fretboard: ebonized maple

Bridge: ebony/maple

Neck feel: medium C-shape, flat board

Neck wood: maple

Weight: 4 lb 8 oz

Condition notes: replacement (old) copper tension hoop, new tuners, replacement head, replacement bridge. There are old filled finger-divots in the ebonized-maple fretboard but they're no issue. They just look a little goofy. The head is a vintage pull from an old '60s banjo but it's in good order aside from wear and tear to its finish.  The banjo itself shows average usewear (scratches, nicks, scuffs) here and there throughout but they're not obvious at a glance.


Ben Jackson said…

I want to buy this one. I sent you an email. Ben