Crafters of Tennessee Custom Flathead (c. 1980)
Like any good build shop, the history of Crafters of Tennessee is somewhat convoluted, with Mark Taylor adopting the name several times depending on who he was working with and on what. What's consistent, however, has been the high level of quality and bluegrass pedigree across the board in these terrific instruments - particularly their banjos. This one, while hard to date definitively, is an early project of Mark's and appears to be from around 1980, placing it his first stint under the Crafters name and likely well within his first thousand instruments. It's also some of his finest early work, notably featuring a top-tension hoop, a rare and costly upgrade that makes it likely that this resonator was initially a custom job for a professional bluegrass musician. Authentic newgrass tone thanks to a slim mahogany neck, a Mastertone tone ring, and low, perfect action make this instrument a player's banjo as well as a cool piece of early history from one of our best builders. Additional ornate appointments like the carved resonator and heel set this instrument firmly within the best of what Crafters made.
Wear is fairly consistent with most banjos of this era, with finish checking, discoloration, and minor oxidization on the hardware reminiscent of a 60s or 70s Gibson. That being said, all wear is cosmetic, and this is as sturdy a five-string as you'll find, with all parts in great working condition, including the more niche and costly components like the hoop and the Keith tuners. The most notable wear centers on the neck, with some very small cracks and scuffs on the back of the resonator as well. There are four spikes installed, at the 7th, 8th, 9th, and 10th frets, and it's unclear as to whether these were installed by Mark or by a subsequent owner. We consider it to be in very good condition. Included in the price is the original hard-shell case.