Stew-Mac kit with compensated bridge installed backward.
Quality or value?
Quality was good. Parts were top-notch. Even though the parts were machined for good assembly, they weren't foolproof. So quality of the finished instrument depends on the skill of the assembler. That goes for finishing, too, since I believe the wood parts were unfinished. The inlay on this one is fancier than I remember these being, so whoever put it together apparently knew what they were doing.
The only one I ever saw in person was well-made.
These have all-metal pots. My guess is they might sound similar to the all-metal Ode of that era and an Ibanez that had a fairly substantial metal pot.
Value? Hard to say, but I don't think I'd pay more than a few hundred dollars for a banjo assembled from a kit by a hobbyist.
Thanks all. Definitely looks like some other stew mac kits out there. Haven’t played it yet. A dog sitter was staying at my house over the weekend, noticed I had some banjos and mentioned she was selling it. Got it 20 years ago from friend’s husband but was too heavy for her to play. I asked for some pics bc she didn’t know what it was. Thanks for helping me ID it. I built a stew mac uke and have a d28 kit in the box, so knowing the quality of their hardware I’m a little tempted to try it out. I mostly play clawhammer and two-finger and am casually looking for something with a bit more cut and less tubbiness. Not sure I would want all the weight of the rim and resonator anyway, but I guess they could come off?
Not only do the parts look like a Stewart MacDonald kit, the inlays look like the same ones the company used to sell back in the seventies and eighties. I agree with Ken, whoever built this one knew what they were doing. These kit banjos can be set up to have a pretty cutting tone. You may find that the weight is not that big an issue. I built one of these years ago and it was lighter than my Gibson RB100.
I cannot tell from the Pic here, but not all of the kits were metal rims. The Diamond Eagle kit was wood rimmed and the 5 star tone ring with the brass flange made a heavy banjo that could sound pretty good.