Banjo Hangout Logo
Banjo Hangout Logo

Premier Sponsors

1043
Banjo Lovers Online


Hide these ads: join the Players Union!
Jul 2, 2022 - 4:48:19 AM
9 posts since 7/2/2022

Univox. Looking at one today. Any info on what to look at for issues would be appreciated.

Edited by - Mb8888 on 07/02/2022 09:56:54

Jul 2, 2022 - 5:50:36 AM
likes this

2967 posts since 12/31/2005

Early 70's Japanese banjo made by Kasuga for Univox. Not familiar with the device between the bridge and tailpiece. Newer (nice) case. Banjo alone ~ 400-500. With case ~ 500-600. Geoff Hohwald at The Banjo Warehouse buys and sell a lot of these.  The most valuable of the PacRim (Pacific Rim) banjos are those that copy Gibson Mastertones ("Masterclones").  This is not a Gibson copy (to the credit of Kasuga and its clients).  Gibson did use bow tie inlay, but not those headstock shapes, other inlays, or wood finishes.

https://hawthorne.fastie.com/asianbanjos/lz.php (scroll down to Univox)
Edit:  Just realized there is basically same banjo, badged as Alvarez, on sale here.  Alvarez was another company that had Kasuga make their banjos.
 

Edited by - Brian Murphy on 07/02/2022 05:59:32

Jul 2, 2022 - 6:08:21 AM

1905 posts since 5/19/2018

Kasuga as said. 375.00 you can’t go wrong.

Generally nicely made instruments.

Jul 2, 2022 - 6:33:54 AM

bubbalouie

Canada

16018 posts since 9/27/2007

Looks nice! If you remove that device/mute between the bridge & the tailpiece it will be a lot louder!

Jul 2, 2022 - 6:54:25 AM
likes this

13436 posts since 6/2/2008

quote:
Originally posted by Brian Murphy

Early 70's Japanese banjo made by Kasuga for Univox. . . .The most valuable of the PacRim (Pacific Rim) banjos are those that copy Gibson Mastertones ("Masterclones").  This is not a Gibson copy (to the credit of Kasuga and its clients).  Gibson did use bow tie inlay, but not those headstock shapes, other inlays, or wood finishes.


These Kasuga banjos predated by several years the more detailed copies that ushered in the era of Masterclones. The bowtie Kasugas (exported as Aria, Alvarez, Dorado, Ventura, Univox, Kasuga and other names I keep forgetting) started around 1970-71. I bought one in May or June '72.  Some time later, the binding went from the brown with yellow purfling to white, followed by the one-piece flange changing to a Gibson copy.

Around the same time or soon after, '75/'76 maybe, Japanese banjos started appearing that were more outright copies of the the '70s RB-250 and even RB-800.

Jul 2, 2022 - 7:09:23 AM

2967 posts since 12/31/2005

quote:
Originally posted by Old Hickory

.

These Kasuga banjos predated by several years the more detailed copies that ushered in the era of Masterclones. The bowtie Kasugas (exported as Aria, Alvarez, Dorado, Ventura, Univox, Kasuga and other names I keep forgetting) started around 1970-71. I bought one in May or June '72.  Some time later, the binding went from the brown with yellow purfling to white, followed by the one-piece flange changing to a Gibson copy.

Around the same time or soon after, '75/'76 maybe, Japanese banjos started appearing that were more outright copies of the the '70s RB-250 and even RB-800.


Great point.

Jul 2, 2022 - 9:48:04 AM

9 posts since 7/2/2022

Is it better than a new Ibanez b300?

Jul 2, 2022 - 10:09:49 AM

2967 posts since 12/31/2005

quote:
Originally posted by Mb8888

Is it better than a new Ibanez b300?


Can't say on a generic basis.  That Univox is about 50 years old.  A lot could have happened to it over that time, but most that I have seen are still fine as long as someone has not massively tinkered with it.  The other issue with the old PacRim banjos is that there was not always consistency in the tone rings they used.  Other than them being one form or another of metal, it varied from good to detrimental.   If I had to choose between a 50 year old Kasaga in good condition or a new Ibanez 300, I would go with the old Kasaga.  What is the price?  Someone above said something about $375, but I didn't see where you said that was the price.  If you are willing to pay $550, I would look at the one to which I linked.  Jim Britton is a very reputable guy and would have fixed any issues he saw before putting it on the market (or would have disclosed them). 

Jul 2, 2022 - 10:31:12 AM

9 posts since 7/2/2022

Yes 375. I'm going to check it out right now. Will ask to take the resonator off to inspect it and check for new bow, dead frets.

Jul 2, 2022 - 1:22:10 PM

9 posts since 7/2/2022

Just got it home. A little wear on the frets and some buzz on the very high frets. Neck relief is a little low. Goes out of tune pretty easy.

Hide these ads: join the Players Union!
Jul 2, 2022 - 3:02:46 PM
likes this

13436 posts since 6/2/2008

Congrats on the acquisition.

Buzz in the high frets and low relief are two different things. If low relief produces buzz, it's usually in the first eight frets.

But relief is the first thing to attack. Your banjo probably has a one-way/single-action truss rod. It can flatten an upbowed neck (too much relief) but can't really force a too-flat neck into good relief. Best it can do is put up less resistance so that that the strings pull it into good relief. You do this by loosening the adjusting nut a little. Maybe a 1/6- to 1/4 turn counter-clockwise.

Measure relief by capoing the banjo at first fret, depressing the 4th string at the 22nd fret with one hand, and using a feeler gauge to check string clearance at the 8th fret.

After you have good relief -- anywhere from .010 to .020 at the 7th or 8th fret -- then you can work on the action up-the-neck. First make sure the head is tight. A loose head lets the bridge sag. If the bridge is a low one, like 1/2-inch, bumping up to a 5/8-inch bridge (which is most common) should do it. If the bridge is already 5/8-inch, you could try .656. Most players seem to like action to be 1/8-inch at the 12th fret - measured from the top of the fret to the bottom of a string. I like 1/8 or a hair less at the 22nd fret. Some people like higher. A banjo that buzzes with 1/8-inch action has something else going on.

You can also easily raise action in the upper frets with a thin shim between the rim and the lower lag bolt area of the  heel. Wood veneer, credit card, aluminum can, aluminum flashing, brass shim stock are materials of different thickness that people have used successfully for this. I cut either two pieces -- one for each side of the bolt -- or one piece with a hole in it for the bolt. Depends on the material I'm using and how much heel wood there is below the bolt.

Enjoy your new banjo.

Jul 2, 2022 - 3:11:51 PM

13436 posts since 6/2/2008

Follow up: For going out of tune easily, check the set screws on the tuner buttons.  Your banjo has the original imitation Kluson tuners. They copy the ones used on 1950s and '60s bowtie Mastertones. The imitations on these Kasugas were not very good. The set screws needed frequent tightening.

I think these were also screwy like the Klusons and all four buttons turned the same way to raise or lower the strings' pitch.  This means the left and right tuners were actually different. This is in contrast to modern planetary geared pegs that are all alike, can be used either left or right, and are therefore turned in opposite directions to raise or lower pitch.

Many of these banjos you see on the market have had the peghead tuners replaced with planets. That's a performance and usability upgrade. Many owners also replace the friction fifth with a geared fifth. That might require reaming the hole a bit larger.

Jul 2, 2022 - 3:18:24 PM

9 posts since 7/2/2022

I'll be working on it more tonight. Seems like the frets up higher have almost no sustain. Little dull sounding.

Jul 2, 2022 - 4:23:54 PM

9 posts since 7/2/2022

I'm pretty sure the head Isn't tight enough. It sags quiet a bit

Jul 2, 2022 - 5:26:31 PM
likes this

1905 posts since 5/19/2018

Tighten the head. Tighten the pegs as mentioned. Make sure you put new strings on it. Check the tailpiece, make sure that is secure and at a proper position. In other words, go over the entire instrument, end to end and tighten/adjust anything that has loosened over the years. Inside and out. The original pegs as mentioned are not the best quality, but they should do the trick if not shot.

Get everything adjusted right and unless the neck or pot are warped, you should have your self a nice instrument.

Jul 2, 2022 - 10:58:39 PM

9 posts since 7/2/2022

I had it sounding pretty good but it seemed too tight. The dime and straight edge test wouldnt fit a dime just barely so I took it back down. Head tension is a chore.

Jul 3, 2022 - 10:53:13 AM

9 posts since 7/2/2022

The flange is up all the way against the neck and bending slightly




 

Jul 3, 2022 - 11:06:15 AM

9 posts since 7/2/2022




Edited by - Mb8888 on 07/03/2022 11:06:53

Jul 3, 2022 - 10:15:44 PM

Bart Veerman

Canada

5241 posts since 1/5/2005
Online Now

quote:
Originally posted by Mb8888

Is it better than a new Ibanez b300?


Yes, by several country miles - most definitely!!!

Keep in mind: those banjos usually came from the factory setup to be used with 1/2 inch tall bridges. Most of those rims have no problem with their co-ord rods being tightened (read: squished) to change the neck angle so they can accommodate a 5/8" bridge. Just don't push your luck trying for 11/16" bridges.

Added: head tension at about 90~92 (on the Drum Dial) gets them into the awesome-banjo zone.

Edited by - Bart Veerman on 07/03/2022 22:19:03

Jul 4, 2022 - 5:09:16 AM
likes this

4889 posts since 11/20/2004

The neck fit could be improved with additional flange clearance and more clearance to prevent seating against the tension hoop where it appears to be pressing. Contact should be at the wood pads where the lag screws come through.

Jul 5, 2022 - 7:36:05 PM

13436 posts since 6/2/2008

What Bobby says. Part of why the neck is binding on the flange is that the flange has pulled up/bent up over the past 50 years. That's to be expected on one-piece pot metal flanges, especially these early 70s Japanese flanges and especially if previous owners believed in really tight heads.

I don't know if it's possible to slightly shim the fit of the flange left and right of the neck to make the flange sit maybe 1/32 to 1/16 inch lower, and don't know if that's desirable even if it were possible. 

I think opening the flange cutout in the heel is a better way to go, but not suggesting that you do that yourself.

I also agree with Bobby that the neck needs adjustment (more trimming?) to get it off the tension hoop and the head's flesh hoop. The ends of the heel should be making solid contact with the pot.

You could add wood to the heel to do that. Same amount on the upper and lower sections so as not to change neck angle. Veneer might do. 

Good luck.

Jul 6, 2022 - 4:42:11 AM

2992 posts since 12/4/2009

Hello,

The notch on these are always never to Gibson standards. LOL. Right. The neck is unable to use the two coordinator rods. The tension hoop is supporting the neck. This suggests the lower lag bolt is under extreme pressure to release. Both lag bolts are used the press the neck to the rim. An air gap of 2-3 mm is fine. 0 is not good.

Take a picture of the fret before the notch. This is to see how much is available. 4mm gap is pretty big from the side pictures. 4mm + 2mm is 6 mm off the fretboard. That is big. That can mean loosing a fret and changing the scale length.

Get a better banjo. Investing in a new neck is worth more than the value of the instrument.

Hide these ads: join the Players Union!

Hangout Network Help

View All Topics  |  View Categories

0.265625