2010s Caraya 5-String Pony/Travel Banjo

Caraya is one of those eBay and Amazon brands that appear to be made in the same factories that produce instruments for Gold Tone, Saga, and whatnot. This instrument is comparable in quality to the old Saga pony-style travel banjos and, just like them, they really like being tuned up to C (like the 5th fret on a 5-string banjo) as the scale is so short. One can string them for standard G-tuning but a second wound string is needed for that and I feel like it ruins the "5-string-thing" when you do that.

At any rate -- these are cheap but it's well-made -- the truss rod works, there are geared tuners on every string, the hooks, nuts, and shoes are decent quality, the rim is multi-ply and sturdy, it comes with a standard Remo head, and the fretting is good. It even comes with an adjustable tailpiece and a single-rod coordinator-rod setup... my favorite for openbacks as it lets you adjust action on the fly quickly and easily and it's a lot more stable than dowel-style necks.

Arriving "as-is," it played like garbage, though, but a quick setup and it was playing fast and easy. The old strings don't help pop and ring, but they were fine so I left them.

This is a customer's instrument that was just in for setup so I forgot to take measurements, but the scale was around a baritone uke or short tenor length and the head was about 9" or so. I was pleased to note that the nut width was wide enough for comfortable fingering. Sometimes I have trouble with travel banjos that are meant to double as kiddo instruments because their nuts are way too narrow for comfort.