walnut Recording King tenor banjo by Gibson


In the 1930s, Gibson made a number of banjos for sale by other companies, including mail-order houses such as Montgomery Ward.  These banjos were labeled with a variety of brand names and bore no Gibson markings even though they were made at the Kalamazoo factory and in many cases were very similar to Gibson catalog models.  This banjo, manufactured under the Recording King brand, borrows features from a few different Gibson-brand models of the period.  The walnut resonator with no purfling is the same as that seen on the sub-Mastertone style 2, but there is a 40-hole archtop tone ring as found on Mastertone models.  The fingerboard inlays are the fleur-de-lis used on the sub-Mastertone style 1, but the peghead is the typical Recording King shape with the Recording King logo covered, for some reason, by a piece of orange sparkle tape.

Photos courtesy of Jim Dragonmyst.