Bill Evans demos an affordable bluegrass-style five-string banjo from the Gretsch Roots series.
by Teja Gerken
November 04, 2014
Although Gretsch is probably most famous for its hollow-body electric guitars, the company has built a slew of stringed instruments since the early 1900s. Today, Gretsch’s stringed-instrument sector is part of Fender Musical Instruments (the famous drum division is a separate business). Fender has not only brought back classic Gretsch guitars, but it recently used the brand to introduce an entire line of acoustic instruments under the “Roots Collection” name. Besides mandolins, resonator and archtop guitars, and ukuleles, the Roots Collection includes several open-back and resonator-style banjos, including the G9410 Broadkaster Special (the line’s entry-level resonator banjo) we had a chance to check out.
The Broadkaster Special is a five-string banjo with a resonator. The resonator and rim are made from mahogany, and the body of the instrument has 24 brackets, a tension hoop, and a Remo Renaissance head. The neck is also made from mahogany, with a rosewood fingerboard, snowflake inlay, and bone nut. The Broadkaster Special has geared tuning machines and chrome hardware. In this video, Peghead Nation banjo instructor Bill Evans demonstrates and discusses the instrument.
“The geared fifth-string peg is a nice thing to have on a banjo at this price level,” says Evans. “Cheaper banjos will sometimes have a peg that is not geared, and they’re harder to tune.” We also liked the instrument’s evenly applied finish, generally solid craftsmanship, and vintage-style tailpiece.
SPECS: Five-string resonator banjo. 11-inch pot. Remo Renaissance head. Mahogany neck with 22 frets. Maple/ebony bridge and bone nut. Enclosed chrome geared tuning machines. Made in China. $749 list/$450 street. gretschguitars.com
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