The banjo reviews database is here to help educate people before they purchase an instrument. Of course, this is not meant to be a substitute for playing the instrument yourself!
6989 reviews in the archive.
Where Purchased: Price himself
I've been looking through some old discussions and reviews, and have some comments about the SL-5.
First, I designed this piece in December 1981, at which time the only tailpieces on the market were the Waverly, a Japanese copy of the Kershner, and a German copy of the same. Nobody was building a Presto repro at that time. I had a box full of various tailpieces. which I spread out on the kitchen table and studied to see what feature(s) I liked best about each one. I then drew up a design from scratch which incorporated most if not all of these features. The latest version is not much changed from the first, other than the inside angle of the back part of the body, which allows the body to lift above a position parallel to the head. Also, a slot was added to the hole for the third string, and some small cuts to make the string path through the leading edge more gentle. I think the first change was to cut a piece out of the middle of the hinge boss, so that the two small bosses would serve to provide the lateral stability that the two adjustment screws of a Kershner provide.
Regarding the lateral adjustment, that is only useful to correct a neck improperly fitted, that is, cocked to one side a bit. Better to fix the neck fit than to make a bandage involving drilling two holes, lapping them, and buying two plated screws to fill the holes. My opinion, take it or leave it.
Regarding availability, these have been available for several years now. Yes, they are expensive, compared with the stamped Kershner or the die cast pot metal Asian knockoff, but they are no get rich quick scheme. Sadly but truly.
There are about 400 or so bodies in boxes out in the shop, unplated, beautifully machined but need to be oil sanded on the top surface, buffed and plated, and assembled. The yokes, adjustment screws, mounting screws and mounting nuts are all barrel plated nickel. If someone out there wants to buy the whole nine yards, give me a call. At 74, I'm not looking for more tasks, and cases, firewood, yard tractors, chain saws, a garden and five acres of jungle will keep me off the streets and out of the pool halls.
All that said, other tailpieces will work, all have some drawback or another; performance and effect on tone are to a great extent subjective, and I personally like prewar Prestos on my prewar Mastertones. On my Classic 75 and my Tradition, the SL-5 performs wonderfully well and is trouble free.
Before I depart this vale of tears, I should probably say that my relationship with banjos and banjo players has been almost entirely a great joy, a total hoot. I wouldn't take all the money I'd have made playing heavy metal, practicing neurosurgery or some other unlikely pathway, for the friendships, the memories and the dear friends gained along the way. Some of you, I'll see in January close to Knoxville......
Overall Rating: 10
'Help identify this banjo' 59 min
'Old Piss' 1 hr
'2010 Yates Shelby' 1 hr