If you've never seen Béla Fleck in concert, we highly suggest you do. Béla is on the perennial roster at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, so we have the great fortune to see him play every June. Béla pushes the banjo to a higher level of musicality, and witnessing Béla's banjo acrobatics is about as inspiring as it gets. Nevertheless, Béla was inspired by many players who came before him, and in particular, John Hartford's use of a low-tuned banjo prompted Béla to track down banjos that can produce lower frequencies.
Initially, Béla used the Gold Tone CEB-5 Cello Banjo tuned down a full octave below a regular banjo. He felt that there should be a banjo that filled the gap between that cello banjo and a standard-tuned five string. After extensive collaboration with Gold Tone, the result is the Mastertone ML-1 Missing Link—a baritone banjo tuned down to open C. This intriguing instrument opens a vast new territory for banjo players. It takes some adjustment to get used to the wider spacing and all wound strings, but it provides access to a lower-register sonic landscape that provides tons of inspiration.
- Scale Length: 26-1/4"
- Tuning: CGCEG
- Neck: Hard Rock Maple
- Fingerboard: Ebony 5-10" Compound Radius
- Frets: 22
- Fingerboard Inlay: Nouveau Custom " Béla Fleck"
- Tuners: Planetary w/ Black buttons
- Nut: 1-3/8" Zero Glide
- Pot: 12" 3-Ply Canadian Maple
- Tone Ring: Bronze Sand Cast
- Head: 12" Remo Black Suede
- Resonator: 14" Maple (Convertible)
- Bridge: 10" Radiused Maple with Ebony Cap (7/8")
- Tailpiece: 5-String Terminator
- Case: Hardshell