If you like the old Ibanez banjos, you might want to look at this:
Rare Hearts & Flowers inlay
A real education!
The photo of the peghead backside shows that the neck was theee-piece (not counting the ears) same as Gibson of that era. With its two-piece flange and hearts and flowers inlay, or was pretty much a copy of an RB-800.
I've played plenty of these types of import banjos back in the 1970s. Ibanez in this model was a decent, solid instrument compared to others at that time.
In light of what is available now -- compared to 1970s -- I would not say that age or limited availability has made these banjos more desirable.
I have owned two of the RB5 clones (Artist) and have played many other models. While they looked like the Gibson's of the time, many of them didn't sound good, even after setting them up.
i have had two Alvarez Banjo's that sounded as good as anything out there.
Maybe i was just lucky to have gotten two great ones. but i have no complaints.
Some of these 70’s and 80’s Japanese Masterclones were better than anything that Gibson put out before G Rich got involved with Gibson and put them back on the right track.
The Ibanez as mentioned was kind of a hybrid of various Gibson designs, most notably the RB-800. Quality on them for the most part on the better models was very good. Set up right and tweaked, they make fine players and are still a pretty good value.
975...would be a great beginner instrument with a bit of vintage vibe to it.
I had a wreath model. At that time the only way I could get a decent sound was by replacing the tone ring with a Stew-Mac flathead
It’s overpriced—whatever its virtues.
Frank Ford made me a unique hybrid out of an Iida 223 (or some number in there). Key was the two-piece flange and fat shell. I bought a complete Gibson ball-bearing tone ring, springs, bearings, washers and all, from Jon Lundberg in Berkeley. Frank drilled the Iida shell for the spring-and-ball setup, and I had the world’s only Iida ball-bearing banjo. Not at all bad, either. Better, I thought,, than with the stock tone ring. I sold it to a banjo student when I went back to grad school It may yet be kicking around Northern California
I've owned two 76 Ibanez Artist banjo that both sounded better than a 68 Gibson that I owned no matter how it was tweaked...
Virgin Islands (U.S.)
I almost bought a nice 70s Ibanez Artist with the "Vine of Life" inlay and motifs. It was a beautiful banjo and actually did sound pretty good although I planned on swapping the rim/ring for a Sullivan. Unfortunately, the guy wanted $2000 and "knew what he had" and refused to come down. I offered him $700, which I felt was about $200 more than it was worth, just because I liked how it looked so much. Still kinda bummed I didn't get it.
'Huber HR30 Tone Ring' 2 hrs
'Iida Banjo for sale' 3 hrs