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6 String Gibson Banjo


Mike Applegate

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Hi y'all. I bought a 6-string banjo about ten years ago in a guitar shop in Knoxville, Tenn. The guy told me it was very old, maybe 1930's or so and was a collector's item, so I bought it and rarely played it. I believe it has been recovered since it is so new-looking. It has a very nice hard case that fits it perfectly. It is quite heavy for a banjo and I have attached some photos of it. I play guitar and know absolutely nothing about banjo playing, so pardon my ignorance about not knowing where the serial i.d. is or other important markings on it. Any help with it's approximately value, history, etc. would be most appreciated from a Navy Veteran in Japan. I might even sell it if the right offer comes along.

 

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Thankyou for an interesting post [thumbup]

 

Seems the 6 string banjo is unusual and a bit special...perhaps initiated in the UK mid 19th century

 

Even played by such diverse artists as Django Reinhardt, Gary Davis, Rod Stewart :blink:

 

Unsure as to tuning...perhaps as for guitar...in which case I recommend playing it finger style [biggrin]

 

Probably a niche instrument, as most banjo-ists use 4 and 5 string versions

 

Could be quite valuable...but IMO better to keep,play and generally enjoy... [biggrin]

 

V

 

:-({|=

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The serial number on the old Gibson banjos is generally handwritten inside the pot. My 30's TB-1 has the number written on the inside edge of the tone ring and also on the inside of the resonator. As I was doing similar research on my TB-1 I ran across a very good website regarding old Gibson banjos, give it a "google".

 

As shown, the "Mastertone" designation puts it in the "premium" line of Gibson banjos. The small/straight/script logo should put it from the mid-late 30's. It is my understanding that all six-string banjos are tuned like a guitar, and that was the reason for their invention, for guitar players to be able to "double" on banjo. Some makers even gave them names such as "guitanjo", and "banjitar".

 

The guitar-tuned 6-string banjo is an instrument that is still available today from various makers.

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That thing is beautiful...I would love to have one, being mainly a country picker myself, but I doubt I'd be able to afford it...

 

And yes, all Ganjo's (another term for 6-string Banjo's) are tuned to E Standard normally, or whatever other guitar tuning the player wants. Some people use open tunings (Open G or D) to get closer to that Banjo sound. An amazing instrument.

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Hey guys, it's Mike the Banjo Guy in Japan here, original poster. I really appreciate everyone on the forum taking the time to respond. All the information has been very helpful. I didn't realize it was worth so much money. Where would I find the serial number on the banjo? I hope I don't have to take it apart to find it.

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Mike, in addition to Larry's comments in post #3 above, perhaps this might be helpful: http://www.banjophiles.org/basicbanjoanatomy.htm

 

I really know little about banjos. Most of what I've posted here was the result of doing web searches for information.

 

Here are a couple more links:

 

http://www.gbase.com/gear/find?gs=y&pageindex=1&fy=1920&ly=1935&keyword=gibson+banjo&track=n (yours would seem to be a "GB", but a higher grade than a "GB-1")

 

http://www.gbase.com/gear/gibson-gb-1-1928 (note that he states that a Mastertone would sell for even more than the one he's selling).

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The serial number on the old Gibson banjos is generally handwritten inside the pot. My 30's TB-1 has the number written on the inside edge of the tone ring and also on the inside of the resonator. As I was doing similar research on my TB-1 I ran across a very good website regarding old Gibson banjos, give it a "google".

This may be the site Larry was referring to: http://www.earnestbanjo.com/gibson_mastertone_banjos_by_year.htm

 

There are three GB's listed there, a '26, a '28, and a '29. To my untrained eye, the '29 looks pretty similar to yours, Mike: http://www.earnestbanjo.com/gibson_banjo_GB-3_Mastertone_9441-1.htm

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Thanks for that advice, I'll definitely do that once I find the serial number.

 

My wife found some paperwork on the banjo in our pile of stuff that "we never throw out" which adds light to the mystery. I now know more about it, how it was refurbished and exactly where I bought it. I also took some more pictures since there was some interest about The Gibson logo that was used way-back-when in Mother of Pearl inlay. I also paid much more for it than I originally thought I did.

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Mike, did you look at this? http://www.banjophiles.org/basicbanjoanatomy.htm

 

The "pot" is apparently just another name for the main body. It looks like it might be pretty simple to undo the screws and remove the back, and then look inside for the serial number.

 

Even though you paid more than you thought, it certainly appears that you made a nice investment. I'll be curious to see what Mr. Gruhn might have to say about its value!

 

edit: I just looked at the photo of the price tag, and noticed that the neck is original 1920's, but the pot is from the 1970's. If this is accurate, then perhaps I jumped the gun as to the high value for this instrument. I still suspect you did okay investment-wise, but it's probably not worth as much as I had guessed. Anyway, good luck, and let us know what you find out.

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Mike, did you look at this? http://www.banjophiles.org/basicbanjoanatomy.htm

 

The "pot" is apparently just another name for the main body. It looks like it might be pretty simple to undo the screws and remove the back, and then look inside for the serial number.

 

Even though you paid more than you thought, it certainly appears that you made a nice investment. I'll be curious to see what Mr. Gruhn might have to say about its value!

 

edit: I just looked at the photo of the price tag, and noticed that the neck is original 1920's, but the pot is from the 1970's. If this is accurate, then perhaps I jumped the gun as to the high value for this instrument. I still suspect you did okay investment-wise, but it's probably not worth as much as I had guessed. Anyway, good luck, and let us know what you find out.

 

Thanks, Jim, as always. I will attempt to take the pot off and see what I find underneath as far as serial numbers go. I was hesitant because of its age if you know what I mean.

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