What's New

December 28, 2010--Happy Holidays!  Take a look--and listen--to a fine TB-7 belonging to Dave Hollender.

December 8, 2010--For quite some time, I have had TB-6 #9301-13 misidentified on this site.  Thanks to Gary Sippin for helping me correct my information on this most interesting "floor-sweep" banjo!

November 19, 2010--From the small town of Liscomb, Iowa comes a newly-discovered PB-3 Mastertone flathead!  More photos and information to come!

October 30, 2010--One of the most satisfying things about hosting this website has been being able to document the personal histories of some of these banjos' original owners.  Please take a look around my new page on the life and music of Earl Collins, original owner of PB-3 #66-2.  Be sure to check out his version of "Bill Bailey"!

October 14, 2010--I've seen quite a few 1930s TB-3s with Bella Voce inlays on the peghead and the standard leaves and bows on the fingerboard, but this is the first one I've seen with the opposite configuration.

October 13, 2010--Today's addition is a classic late 1920s original five-string RB-3 with a little touch of the 1950s about it.

October 8, 2010--Here's a nice later TB-11 that has spent its entire life in my hometown of Atlanta, Georgia.

October 5, 2010--I'm pleased to add two sound clips of RB-3 #1288-1, an original flathead five-string that has recently made its way back to the United States after spending the last seven decades in South Africa.

September 24, 2010--Yikes!  Two weeks since an update!  I'll try not to let that happen again.  I've been busy playing and chasing down banjos; fresh from a garage in Buffalo, New York comes #9877-50. . . a TB-1 with a most unusual feature.

September 10, 2010--I'm excited to be able to feature the 1940 RB-75 formerly owned by the legendary performer Manuel Dewey "Old Joe" Clark.

September 9, 2010--Today we have a 1928 TB-3 with an early homemade electric pickup installed!

September 6, 2010--For Labor Day, here's a five-string banjo that made Gibson materials and workmanship, if not the Gibson name, available to lots of working people in the years before World War II.  This fully original Kalamazoo Regular Banjo was formerly owned by Tom Bill Draughn of Yadkinville, North Carolina.

August 24, 2010--Never say "never" when it comes to prewar Gibson banjos.  We all know that Gibson made no more trapdoor-type banjos after the 8000-series factory order numbers were instituted in 1925, right?  Well. . .

August 16, 2010--Here's a well-used but fully original 1927 Granada that saw service in thirty years' worth of Philadelphia Mummers Parades.

August 14, 2010--Here's the latest in my series of "field guides" to prewar Gibson banjo models. . . an Overview of Gibson Style 5 Mastertone Banjos.

August 7, 2010--We seem to be on a roll lately with these exported Mastertones. . . so I guess it's time for an original five-string flathead!

August 1, 2010--Today we have the third in my ongoing series of "field guides" to the various prewar Gibson banjo models. . . this time it's an Overview of Gibson Granada Mastertone Banjos.

July 30, 2010--Here's yet another banjo that Gibson originally shipped outside the United States. . . this original RB-2 is not as fancy as the Royal P-T or PB-Florentine I recently posted, but it's actually rarer.

July 23, 2010--I've just posted an Overiew of Gibson Style 4 Mastertone Banjos.  The Granada will be next in the series.

July 19, 2010--Today's addition is another gold-plated flathead banjo from across the Atlantic!

July 12, 2010--Here's a beautiful flathead PB-Florentine that has spent the last seventy years in South Africa.

July 4, 2010--Happy Fourth of July!  I've just posted an Overiew of Gibson Style 3 Mastertone Banjos, the first in what will eventually be a series covering every prewar banjo style made by Gibson.

July 2, 2010--Today's addition is a beautiful 1939 TB-1 from the family of the original owner, Guy F. Tostevin.  Check out the "Gibson Souvenir" in the case pocket!

June 21, 2010--Happy summer!  Flathead Granadas are hard to beat, and flathead Granada "littermates" are even better.
Today PB-Granada #9526-11 joins PB-Granada #9526-14.

June 20, 2010--Happy Fathers' Day!  Today I've added listings of all Mastertone banjos by year and all non-Mastertone banjos by year.

June 14, 2010--Bert Johnson, the original owner of TB-1 #1115-3, has provided a photo of himself with the banjo in a fretted instrument ensemble led by his teacher, Peter Stein, in Rockford, Illinois in the late 1930s.  In addition to Mr. Johnson and his TB-1 on the back row, there are four other prewar Gibson banjos visible in this photo.  Be the first to send me an e-mail identifying all four correctly and you will win "the people's ovation and fame forever", as they say on Iron Chef.  And I'll mention your name here.  Joe Spann, you are not eligible.

June 13, 2010--Here are some great new photos of the one-of-a-kind "Margaret Boote" RB-4.

June 8, 2010--Here's a great-looking 1940 RB-00 with those amber-button Kluson tuners I love so much.

June 6, 2010--Today's addition is a wonderful "floor-sweep" RB-75: the "Reverend Glenn Odell."

June 1, 2010--I've added a page of tips on photographing your old Gibson banjo.

May 31, 2010--The dating of prewar Gibson banjos has long been a subject of debate and contention.  In contrast to other makers such as C.F. Martin and Company, Gibson's prewar and wartime numbering system is extremely convoluted and often counterintuitive.  Rather than true serial numbers, Gibson primarily used a system of factory order numbers which were solely intended for in-house use during production and assembly; attempts to date Gibson banjos based on these numbers represent a significant challenge. 

Since the debut of this site in 1998 I had listed the banjos in numerical order, which I now understand does not reflect the instruments' true chronology.  After consultation with Joe Spann, whose ongoing research into original Gibson records has shed new light on true production dates, I have now changed to a listing of banjos by year.  This listing will be subject to revision as we continue to gain more insight into Gibson's numbering systems and production practices in the prewar period.

May 25, 2010--Here's a beautiful TB-1 from 1937, with information provided by its original owner!

May 23, 2010--Ken Harvey was a Gibson endorser of the 1930s, and his custom PB-12 is one of the most unusual banjos ever made by Gibson.

May 9, 2010--Happy Mothers' Day!  Today we have additional photos of TB-12 #EA-5578.

May 8, 2010--Here's a spectacular curly maple Florentine plectrum formerly owned by Gibson endorsers The Mitchell Brothers.

May 4, 2010--I am particularly fascinated by the banjos which left the Gibson factory during the World War II years--like this beautiful (and very blue) TB-11.

May 2, 2010--Too long since an update!  Here's a beautiful example of one of the very last style 3 Mastertones to leave the factory before that model morphed into style 75.

April 18, 2010--A 1930s Gibson catalog claimed that their mandolin-banjos set "a new standard for musical enjoyment"--here's an exceptionally clean MB-2.

April 14, 2010
--Here's another beautiful fancy banjo from the Roaring Twenties--this time, a Florentine plectrum.

April 11, 2010--Fancy tenor banjos of the Jazz Age don't get much prettier than this Bella Voce.

April 5, 2010--Here's a beautiful original five-string RB-1 with a flange that came out of the top-tension parts bin.

March 31, 2010--Prewar Gibson instruments made for export can be identified by their "Made in U.S.A." stickers; here's a nice RB-1 that surfaced in the United Kingdom.

March 30, 2010--Lot #9152 was one of the last batches of two-piece-flange Granadas. . . we now have a third example from that lot on the site.

March 22, 2010--It's great to have another style 18 on the site. . . and the original wrist-action mute is especially nice!

March 20, 2010--Happy Spring!  Researcher Joe Spann has located the entry for PB-3 #66-2, the "Earl Collins", in the prewar Gibson shipping ledgers!

March 8, 2010--I've spent the past few days correcting the entire site to reflect the revised chronology being established by Joe Spann's ongoing research.  Bottom line--your prewar Gibson banjo is likely three to five years older than you've always thought it was!

March 7, 2010--New research by owner Ken Landreth has established a revised provenance for RB-1 #9563-14.

February 15, 2010--Here's yet another great "under-the-bed" find. . . the fanciest ukulele-banjo offered by Gibson.

February 1, 2010--Here's another fully original banjo from the family of the original owner. . . and it comes with an important piece of documentation.

January 26, 2010--From the original owner's family comes a previously undocumented one-piece-flange Studio King tenor!

January 21, 2010--Today we have a nice, fully original TB-3 with a two-piece flange and no-hole archtop tone ring.  Check out the surprise inside the resonator!

January 12, 2010--While nothing can equal the experience of  hearing a prewar Gibson banjo in person (or preferably playing it yourself), I hope to add more sound files to the site in 2010.  Here's a good one to start with. . . the owner of PB-4 #9525-6 plays his original composition "Nicomede".

January 3, 2010--Happy New Year!  2009 was a year of very exciting vintage banjo discoveries and I can't wait to see what comes to light in 2010.  We start off the new year with RB-4 #9474-3, the third five-string flathead RB-4 ever made.

What's New 2009

What's New 2008

What's New 2007

What's New 2006