Hi, does anyone know who made the Dorado banjos? Thanks so much! Happy 4th of July!
Edited by - Lynne on 07/04/2020 19:25:05
Kasuga (Japan) in the 1970's.
Dorado banjos were made by the Japanese company Kasuga in the early to mid 1970s. Kasuga also made essentially identical banjos under such other names as Aria, Alvarez, Ventura, Morris, its own Kasuga name, and I forget what others.
The only Dorados I have seen -- including one I bought a few years ago for parts -- were like other Kasuga banjos with bowtie inlays and boxy imitation Kluson tuners like the 1950s-60s Gibson RB-250, but beyond that were not true "Masterclones" (structural and cosmetic copies of Gibson).
They had 19- or 20-hole pot-metal Mastertone style tone rings slop fit on a lightweight black painted multi-ply or even plywood rim all held together with a pot metal 1-piece flange with a hole pattern of multiple ovals a little like the design Deering would use later in the decade. There was often a bit of engraving on the armrest and tailpiece cover -- maybe a bumble bee, deer head, seahorse or flower on the tailpiece. Necks were mahogany, resonators were rosewood veneered with diamond or floral pearl onlay (not really inlay) decoration on the back. The pearl is paper thin, applied to the wood then buried in the finish. Aria banjos tended to have only four large pieces in a diamond pattern in the middle of the resonator back. The Dorados and some others -- especially gold plated models -- had the center diamond plus another onlay design around the outer perimeter of the back.
Early 70s might have brown binding with yellow purfling. By mid 70s, Dorado had white binding with white-black pinstripe purfling. The last of the pre-Masterclone Kasugas had Gibson-style 1-piece flanges, but I don't know if that was true across all the different Kasuga brands.
Headstocks were a sort of double cut but non-Gibson shape unique to Kasuga.
Thanks so much fellas! I thought that was it! I had an Alvarez Montana 5-star back in the 70's that did turn out really good. I wouldn't mind running up on another one of those!
In the mid 1970s, Dorado banjos were distributed by Gretsch in their Cincinnati location. We use to go up there and buy returns from the Gretsch warehouse. Many of them just needed minor repairs.
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