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This article was originally published in issue #33
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This is a very classy-looking banjo featuring classic maple construction and engraved hardware finished in a very attractive antique brass effect. The maple neck is topped by a rosewood-faced headstock that features an inlaid truss rod cover, a Victorian-style Barnes & Mullins logo and good-quality planetary-geared tuners. The rosewood fingerboard carries a “hearts and flowers” inlay and is fitted with a geared 5th string peg.
The pot has the classic maple ply construction and its chunky-looking hardware is heavily (and attractively) engraved. Featuring a notched tension hoop, a rolled tone-ring, a Remo head and a burr maple resonator, the BJ500M really looks - and sounds - the business.
All the ingredients you’ll need to make a really good 5-string banjo are here, but unfortunately the potential inherent in this banjo isn’t being released by its factory set-up. It’s going to be well worth your while making sure that the shop that you’re buying this banjo from sets it up properly before you take delivery, and that you get a good-quality case to keep it safe.
Soundwise, the BJ500M delivers a great, Earl Scruggs-style Bluegrass voice and is also capable of doing that old-timey thing if you treat it right. In appearance, the BJ500M is beguilingly classy and would fit right into a steampunk Bluegrass band.