I had the neck off an 1890s Lyon and Healey 5-string banjo to replace the skin head, and noticed this section of light colored wood under the finger board.  The neck appears to be cherry, but I can't tell from the end grain what the lighter colored wood is.  Is this something that is not uncommon, and I've just not been noticing? 


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Hi George.

Never be timid to change out a nut to serve proper function.  A professional job that doesn't involve stock removal on the neck does not significantly devalue a vintage instrument.  It's a routine maintenance item.

Just keep the original for re-installation if it's ever converted back to stock.

Have a great week (-:

Yeah, I didn't think about the age when I posted before, although I have seen this on turn of century banjos before as well. Maybe they were using a wooden reinforcing rods or the like? or one has been added. I've never cut one open to see what's in it, nor had the fingerboard off of one that old, maybe they did use metal rods. I'll have to dig through some of my photos of old banjos that I've worked on and see what I can dig up.

As you can see, you neither have to "cut one open" or take the board off off to see the reinforcing bar. You just take the neck off the rim and look. 

Paul Verticchio,  Thanks for your input and advice.  What does make me a little timid about changing out the nut, it that is neatly ensconced between two large, engraved MOP inlays.  The action is a little high on the 4th string, but other than that it plays and sounds great.  There is a fine line between "First do no harm" and cowardice. and I sometimes wonder which side of the line I'm on.


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