The Béla Fleck Project- The Missing Link

Béla and Gold Tone president Wayne Rogers met at the Summer NAMM music trade show to discuss a new type of banjo. Béla had long been a great fan of John Hartford, and he knew that John had performed extensively with lower tunings on his banjos. Béla and his wife, Abigail Washburn, were about to begin a concert tour, and since they would be performing many banjo duets he wanted a deeper-voiced instrument to compliment and blend with Abby’s standard-tuned banjo. He had been playing his CEB-5 cello banjo, but instead of the deep tones it produced he wanted something that sounded closer to his pre-war Gibson.

They decided to voice the Missing Link halfway between the standard G-tuned banjo and our octave-lower cello banjo. Thus, the ML-1 is tuned to cGCEG. This is a fifth lower than open G, and if you place a capo on the 7th fret it would be in unison with a normal G-tuned banjo. They also decided on a twelve inch pot, because the larger the pot, the more low-end output. The maple ML neck width ( 1-3/8” at the nut) is a happy medium between Béla’s custom Mastertone and a standard banjo. The ebony fretboard has a unique art nouveau inlay pattern that’s classy, but not flashy. They decided on black tuner buttons to match the head A block inlay near the end of the fretboard has Béla’s name engraved in it. The Missing Link is finished in a deep brown mahogany stain.

The name, The Missing Link, was Béla’s idea. He said that the ML-1 was the missing link between the cello banjo and the regular five-string.

Through many samples and spec changes, Béla recorded with it on five of the tracks on Abigail and Béla’s 2014 duet album (Béla Fleck & Abigail Washburn), which debuted at #1 on Billboard Magazine’s Bluegrass chart.

Tone Ring Bronze Sand Cast

Rim 3-Ply Canadian Maple

Tension Hoop Notched 24-Bracket

Neck Hard Rock Maple

Tuners GT Master Planets

Tailpiece Terminator

Resonator 14” Maple (Convertible)

Arm Rest Gold Tone Engraved

Fingerboard Ebony 5-10” Compound Radiused

Inlay Nouveau Custom

Truss Rod Two-Way Adjustable

Nut Width 1-3/8” ZeroGlide nut

Bridge 10” Radiused Maple w/ Ebony Cap (7/8”)

Head 12” MC Black Remo ®

Scale Length 26-1/4”

Weight 9.2 lbs.

Tuning CGCEG

Strings .018w, .038w, .028w, .022w, .018w

Finish Vintage Brown

Plating Chrome

Options SMP+ Pickup, Fishman Rare Earth Pickup, Lefty

Case Included

Bag HPB Paul Roberts