A friend of mine brought to work a banjo. It is a Luscomb (I think the spelling is correct). It is a fine piece, but neglected. I don't play a fretted banjo, but perhaps this would be a good opportunity to start. So, I pose a few basic questions - what are the best strings and head to have on it, and what is the proper height for the action at the 12th fret? It has a weather king plastic head on it now and rusty steel strings. I want to try playing "Classic Banjo" like I see on so many fine videos here. 

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That's a beautiful banjo. Good find!

I personally like the Remo Fiberskyn head with Nylgut strings.  Steel is too sharp for Classic banjo. You're looking for a more mellow sound.

By the way, what is the scale length on the Luscomb?


Gut, Nylgut or Nylon. Regardless of scale length. End of discussion. ;-)


Elderly Instruments carries two of my favorite brands, Aquila (nylgut) and Chris Sands (nylon). I prefer nylgut but it certainly won't hurt to try nylon on it. I would recommend avoiding the LaBella sets (either gut or nylon), they're really soft and floppy. The LaBella guts I bought lasted only a couple weeks.
Tim Twiss said:

Thanks for the tips. Perhaps somebody could restate the obvious for me...steel or gut for Classic Banjo, in particular one of the scale length of the Luscomb I am holding?  
Rob, Bluegrass action is typically not low.  According to "Masters of The Five String Banjo" (Trischka and Wernick) of the 67 well known players they interviewed 39 had a bridge height of 5/8", 23 used higher bridges (11/16, 3/4, 7/8, and just below an inch, and only 5 reported lower than 5/8. String height at the 12th fret  was 1/8" for only 11 players. 4 reported lower height but 42 players reported higher height with 16 of them at 3/16" and 3 preferring a height of just under 1/4 inch.

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