New five-string banjo combines vintage and contemporary features.
by Teja Gerken
November 27, 2018
Greg Deering built his first banjo in the late 1960s, and in the decades since, he has not only become an important pillar of the southern California luthier community, his company, Deering Banjos, has grown into one of the world’s most significant banjo makers. Known equally for innovation and respecting tradition, Deering offers original designs as well as models inspired by vintage instruments. We recently had a chance to check out Deering’s new Rustic Wreath five-string, which is part of the company’s Golden Series and which combines contemporary features with elements familiar from iconic banjos of the past. In this video, Peghead Nation banjo instructor Bill Evans demonstrates the instrument.
The Rustic Wreath is a maple banjo with a walnut-colored satin finish. It has a Gibson-style zinc flange and Deering’s 06 20-hole bell bronze tone ring, and its resonator is slightly deeper than Deering’s standard resonator. These are the same basic components found on more expensive Golden Series models, and its neck has the same shape as other Golden Series banjos. The Rustic Wreath gets its name from the “wreath” style inlay in the fretboard, a style often associated with Ralph Stanley’s instruments.
The Rustic Wreath’s neck (like other Golden Series instruments) has slightly wider string-spacing than many vintage Gibson instruments, and Bill said, “I like this spacing. If you’re into more contemporary styles, single-string or melodic, then this spacing could come in very handy.” Bill also found that the Rustic Wreath sounded a lot like more expensive Deering Golden Series models. “With the engine of the banjo, the rim and the tone ring, you’re getting top-of-the line, so that adds up to a great sound. It has a lot of bite that would be great for a traditional bluegrass setting, but also, you can move your [picking hand] away from the neck and get a nice, mellow sound.”
All in all, the Rustic Wreath is a cool new instrument for serious players who want top-of-the-line sound at a more affordable price.
SPECS: Five-string resonator banjo. Premium three-ply, violin-grade maple rim. Maple resonator. 06 bell-bronze tone ring. Brass, notched tension hoop. Nickel-plated traditional zinc flange. 11-inch frosted-top medium-crown head. Maple neck. 26¼-inch scale. 1¼-inch nut width. Deering Smile bridge. Deering Truetone tailpiece. Pearloid wreath-style inlays. Deering planetary tuners. Deering geared fifth-string tuner. Nickel plated hardware. Made in USA. List price $3,599. deeringbanjos.com
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