Ibanez Artist 591 TB tenor banjo (serial # H787334)
After studying tenor banjo for a few years on a Framus that I borrowed from my brother Harry, I wanted to go for a better sounding instrument and visited in November 2018 the Holland Jazz Banjo Festival. At the festival I was thrilled to hear the tenor banjo solos of Nol van Iersel, banjoplayer of the Never Mind Jazz Band. When I told him that I was looking for a better tenor banjo he invited me at his home to have a look at this Ibanez Artist that he bought brandnew around ’80-’81. He had taken care of a perfect instrument setup and I did not only buy the banjo but received my first solo banjo lesson and Nol became a good friend. In turn Nol was thrilled that one year later I joined the Dutch Swing College Band and recorded with this banjo on a soon-to-be-released album.
If Ibanez serial numbers can be trusted to date instrument manufacture then this banjo is from 1978, originally bought from Saris in Eindhoven. In the seventies Ibanez was making good copies of the popular Gibson Mastertone banjos and therefor were nicknamed the MasterClone banjos. It has a very heavy flathead tone ring which takes care of a nice sustain. The ebony fingerboard plays very light and the tone is warm, which must be a combined effect of the resonator, string gauge, bridge and head tension.