1970s Iida Model 233 Masterclone Resonator 5-String Banjo

I've worked-on a good number of Iida and Iida-built/same-make (they're Japanese) 5-string banjos over the years and I'm always impressed by their Masterclone and pro-level openback instruments. To be honest, they're very close to a same-period Gibson. I really hate to say that but it's true. They handle beautifully after adjustments, are well-built, have good-quality parts, and fast, comfortable necks.

I've owned and sold a pair of Model 233s in the past and, while I love bluegrass resonator banjos, I always think conversion of these into openback instruments (it's easy-peasy) is a terrific way to get a punchy, gorgeous-sounding openback machine with a unique sound.

Did I mention this whole kit clocks in under 10 lbs even with the flathead tonering? That's not too shabby. I've definitely handled my share of shoulder-killing bluegrass banjos. Oof.

This one's here on consignment and only needed a light amount of work to get it playing spot-on. I mean: it even has its original Iida head, how about that? It's a one-owner instrument, too, and it wasn't abused at all -- it was babied and kept in its case when not in use.

It's Gibby-style through and through -- twin coordinator rods, flathhead ring, 11/12-ply rim, full flange and hoop ring for the hooks, and whatnot. It's no surprise it sounds like one, too! 

Repairs included: fret level/dress, cleaning, restring, and setup. I replaced a weird-looking tuner button at the 5th peg, too.


Rim wood: 11/12-ply maple

Tonering: flathead

Bridge: compensated ebony/maple

Fretboard: rosewood

Neck wood: mahogany


Action height at 12th fret: 1/16" overall (fast!)

String gauges: 10, 22w, 15, 12, 10

Neck shape: medium-big C

Board radius: flat

Truss rod: adjustable

Neck relief: straight

Fret style: medium-smaller


Scale length: 26 3/8"

Nut width: 1 3/16"

Head diameter: 11”

Resonator diameter: 14"

Depth overall at rim: 3 5/8"

Weight: 9 lbs 6 oz


Condition notes: it's overall pretty clean, though there are some filled "railroad spike" holes under the 5th string fret positions on the fretboard. There's mild usewear throughout but it's in good order. The tuners at the headstock were swapped for 4:1 geared Grover pegs and the 5th-string peg was replaced with a geared one, too. The nut is new bone. There are some unfilled screwholes at the back of the headstock.


It comes with: an original hard case.




















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