What's New

December 27, 2011--Today we have a rare early style 1 plectrum in excellent original condition.

December 16, 2011--Here's another nice TB-3 from lot #9549, still in the original owner's family.

December 5, 2011--I'm happy to be able to add a sound file to the page for RB-3 #9602-6!

November 27, 2011--Today's additional is a beautiful original five-string flathead RB-3 with wreath inlays!

November 19, 2011--There's no rarer incarnation of the 1930s style 1 than the GB, or guitar-banjo, version; here's a nice well-used but original example.

November 12, 2011--Any original five-string RB-00 is a nice find, but this one is especially so with its original full-thickness rim and mahogany neck!

November 11, 2011--Today we have a nice follow-up to TB-3 Mastertone #9465-23. . . from just five lots later, this fine example of an early one-piece-flange TB-Granada.

November 6, 2011--Here's an exceptionally clean 1929 TB-3 Mastertone from the first known lot made in the "new" one-piece-flange configuration introduced that year.

October 15, 2011--Plectrum Granadas don't turn up every day--here's a nice one from 1928 that didn't leave the factory (for the last time, anyway) until 1935!  I've also added better photos of TB-3 #9549-73, the "Floyd Jacobs".

October 9, 2011--I love to reunite "littermates" on this site, and now PB-12 #918-1 joins TB-12 #918-2.

October 7, 2011--West Coast banjo master Bill Knopf has kindly supplied photos of the TB-12 conversion that has been his main banjo since 1976. . . and Joe Spann has helped piece together the instrument's history.

October 1, 2011--Happy October!  Here's another very nice 1930 TB-3 from the family of the longtime (and possibly original) owner.

September 24, 2011--Today's addition is a fully original TB-4 Mastertone dating to 1930.

September 17, 2011--Here's an extremely well-preserved, completely original 1926 MB-2 with its characteristic "ribbon" flange.

September 11, 2011--This likely one-of-a-kind tenor banjo dating to 1929 is one of the most interesting Gibson banjos I've ever seen.

September 9, 2011--I've added a brief explanation of Gibson banjo serial numbers vs. factory order numbers.

September 2, 2011--Today we have a beautiful example of a rare banjo--a TB-5 Mastertone with forty-hole raised-head tone ring.

August 30, 2011--I'm always excited to see what website visitors have found in the closet or under the bed. . . especially when it's something as nice as an original five-string RB-1 in "time capsule" condition!

August 21, 2011--Thanks again to Bernd Gassmann for providing photos of a gorgeous Recording King #507 tenor banjo made by Gibson in 1930.

August 16, 2011--German luthier Bernd Gassmann has provided some additional photos of PB-7 #E3281-6 with the beautiful reproduction five-string neck he made for it.

August 11, 2011--Here's an absolutely gorgeous TB-5 that brightened up many lunch breaks for its longtime owner.

August 9, 2011--Checkerboard-bound TB-6s don't get much nicer than this one.

July 30, 2011--Time for another South African top-tension!

July 29, 2011--Here's a beautiful example of a TB-3 Mastertone from the first year of production. . . and 86 years later, it's still in the original owner's family.

July 22, 2011--Time for another top-tension. . . this one is a TB-7 which is believed to have been in Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

July 17, 2011--If you had walked into H. Polliack and Co., Ltd., in South Africa in the spring of 1941, you would have seen all kinds of goodies for sale. . . like this wonderful PB-7!

July 12, 2011--Time for another RB-75--this one with extensive documentation including its original bill of sale and numerous photos of it with its original owner!

June 19, 2011--Here's a beautiful 1930 PB-3 Mastertone which somewhere along the way acquired a Kay tenor neck.

June 18, 2011--Gibson began as a mandolin company and when the banjo rose to popularity in the 1920s, they began producing large numbers of mandolin-banjos like
MB-3 Mastertone #9204-37.

June 11, 2011--I've added sound files of Royal P-T #9360-13, the "Gerry Smith", both in its original plectrum-tenor configuration and as a five-string!

June 4, 2011--Today we have a very nice 1929 TB-3 that was used extensively in Slovenian polka bands in Ohio and Pennsylvania in the years after World War II by longtime owner Bill Umeck (1919--2002).

May 27, 2011--Here's an original TB-11 with a somewhat unusual variant of the resonator silkscreening.

May 21, 2011--The owner of the "floor-sweep" TB-6 #9360-5 has provided some additional, excellent quality photos of this fascinating banjo.

May 19, 2011--Gibson's style 4 Mastertone, priced $50 more than the style 3 but only $50 less than the gold-plated, engraved Granada, never sold in very large numbers and is rare today.  It's even rarer to find such a 1930s example in near mint condition with the hearts and flowers inlay pattern!

May 15, 2011--Most prewar five-string Gibson Mastertone banjos were originally shipped to the southeastern United States, where they were in demand by rural string-band musicians. . . but this one just made the short trip from the Gibson factory down the street to a Kalamazoo music store.  I have also updated the Gibson in South Africa page.

May 8, 2011--Most prewar Gibson banjo nuts I know like floor-sweeps, and flatheads, and gold-sparkle. . . so what's not to like when you find all three together in one banjo?

May 3, 2011--New today in the Miscellany section--a primer on Mastertone Labels: Real and Fake.

May 1, 2011--Gibson jumped on the electric instrument bandwagon in a big way in the late 1930s, even producing electric banjos like this ETB-150.

April 27, 2011--Today's addition is a fully original 1928 PB-1 from the family of longtime owner Anton Smith.

April 25, 2011--TB-2 #9691-22 is in all likelihood the one owned by Miss Helen Knighton, whose TB-3 #345-6 has been featured here since 2009.

April 19, 2011--Here's a quaint advertising postcard from the Star Brass Works of Kalamazoo, Michigan.  When they weren't busy making overhead electrical contact wheels for trolleys, they cast the raised-head and flathead tone rings used in prewar Gibson Mastertone banjos.

April 9, 2011--Today's addition is another 1929 TB-3. . . this one from just before the transition to the one-piece flange.

March 25, 2011--It's extremely unusual to find early one-piece-flange Mastertones with the hardware remaining in good condition, and this 1929 TB-3 has an unusual inlay combination to boot.

March 19, 2011--This 1941 TB-18 has to be one of the nicest examples in existence.

March 8, 2011--Here's a beautifully-preserved TB-11 that was owned by a high-ranking officer in World War II.  I've also added another tidbit to the Doehler Die Casting Company page. . . who knew they made ashtrays decorated with the company logo?

March 6, 2011--Too long since an update!  Here's a beautiful TB-6 formerly owned by Gibson endorser Jimmie Smith.

February 20, 2011--I'm happy to be able to add additional photos of the TB-12 originally owned by J.G. Hemmis.

February 13, 2011--I've added photos of PB-3 #9580-5 with its new five-string neck as well as an entire page documenting its initial diasassembly, cleaning, and setup as a five-string.

February 8, 2011--Tonight I've posted the beginning of what I hope will soon be a much-expanded page on Gibson in South Africa.

February 6, 2011--Gibson thought they could jumpstart banjo sales in the late 1930s by designing "the banjo of the future".  It didn't work, but they made some wonderful banjos like this original five-string RB-7.

February 1, 2011--What do you get when you take a Kalamazoo tenor and give it a one-piece flange?  In this case, the rarely-encountered Recording King #731.

January 28, 2011--Today's addition is not a banjo, but a Doehler Die Casting Company stock certificate.

January 22, 2011--I've updated the page for Royal P-T #9360-13 with photos showing the banjo with its masterful reproduction five-string neck by Frank and Ricky Neat.

January 21, 2011--This 1940 TB-00 shows that even a year before the United States entered World War II, some "irregularity" was already cropping up in Gibson's banjo production.

January 16, 2011--Here's one of the rarer iterations of the prewar Gibson Mastertone: a tube-and plate TB-4 with chrome-plated hardware.

January 14, 2011--According to Gibson's prewar catalogs, no self-respecting banjo orchestra could be without a guitar-banjo.

January 13, 2011--In the earliest years of Gibson's banjo production this TB-5 was as fancy as it got.

January 12, 2011--Happy New Year!  I can't wait to see what vintage banjo discoveries 2011 will bring.  We start the year with a fully original RB-1 from North Carolina.

What's New 2010

What's New 2009

What's New 2008

What's New 2007

What's New 2006