What's New

December 30, 2014--Here are the Gibson banjo shipping totals for July 1938.  Four Mastertones left the factory that month; two of them were carved, painted "fancy banjos" from the late 1920s which Gibson was still trying to clear out a decade later.

December 28, 2014--Thanks to Devon Avery for the pre- and post-conversion photos of his 1930 TB-1!

December 18, 2014--This original five-string RB-00 has loads of character. . . it obviously was owned by someone who went by the name of "Kentucky Slim".  The indications are that this was not the Kentucky Slim whose real name was Charles Elza, a.k.a. "The Little Darlin'", who was a member of Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs' Foggy Mountain Boys in the 1950s.  If you can help with the identification of the correct Kentucky Slim, please let me hear from you!

December 12, 2014--I'm on a roll with the Gibson banjo shipping totals. . . here's June 1938.  Trivia fact:  There were equal numbers of RB-75s and MB-00s shipped that month (3).

December 11, 2014--Today we have a nice original TB-11 which, judging by the lot number written on the neck heel, most likely dates to 1934 or 1936.  The vintage calfskin head is inscribed with the names "Elsie and Woody".

December 10, 2014--Here are the Gibson banjo shipping totals for May 1938.  That month saw the shipment of two Mastertone banjos, including RB-12 Mastertone #411-1.

December 4, 2014--Today I've added the Gibson banjo shipping totals for April 1938.

November 30, 2014--I've always had a soft spot in my heart for the humble style 00; here's an exceptionally clean TB-00 with all the appointments you would expect for one shipped in the spring of 1941, including Phillips-head screws throughout, short bracket nuts, large truss-rod cover, and Kluson tuners with those beautiful Catalin buttons.

November 24, 2014--I'm very excited to be able to add RB-Granada Mastertone #9557-8 to the site!  This original flathead five-string was shipped to the Kenny Music Company of Huntington, West Virginia on August 9, 1937.

November 9, 2014--Here's another Gibson banjo originally shipped to South Africa. . . this one is a Kalamazoo-brand mandolin-banjo formerly owned by Boeremusiek player D.J.C. Mostert.

November 4, 2014--My ongoing project to document Gibson banjo shipping totals has taken a back seat for the past couple of months, but here are the totals for March 1938.  Don Reno's famous RB-75 #518-1 was the one and only flathead five-string Mastertone shipped that month. . . surprisingly, the most-shipped instrument that month was the ETB-150 electric tenor banjo!  Also, please visit my page of Prewar Gibson Banjos for Sale.

October 23, 2014--From the homemade strap to the funky aftermarket armrest to the do-it-yourself flange and tension hoop repairs, this 1930 TB-2 has plenty of character. . . and check out the dramatic figure in the walnut resonator veneer!

October 19, 2014--I'm excited to add a newly-discovered prewar flathead:  PB-75 Mastertone #EG-4061 was shipped to South Africa on August 10, 1939 and remained there until this summer.

October 3, 2014--I have some new listings on my page of Prewar Gibson Banjos for Sale.  Right now an original 1939 PB-7 top-tension conversion to five-string, a prototype 1928 checkerboard TB-6, an unconverted S.S. Stewart-brand TB-11, a 1940 TB-11 conversion to five-string, a 1930 PB-1 conversion to five-string, an extremely clean original five-string RB-11, and a nice unconverted TB-11 are all available.  Please contact me for more information on any of these banjos.

October 2, 2014--Here's a beautiful original five-string RB-11 dating to circa 1937. . . it's for sale, too!

September 23, 2014--This TB-11 likely dates to the first couple of years of style 11 production and was featured for many years in performances by King Henry and the Showmen, popular entertainers in the Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania.

September 18, 2014--PB-1 #9559-41, which I located earlier this year, has now been converted to five-string flathead with a neck by Frank Neat and a Sullivan Vintage-35 tone ring, and is for sale.  Please contact me for more information.

September 13, 2014--Here's another very clean original 1930s TB-1, this one from the family of longtime owner Bob Petrie of Pennsylvania.

September 3, 2014--Today's addition is a very clean, fully original TB-1 featuring not one, not two, but three factory order numbers, separated by four years. . . and a resonator from a style 3 mandolin-banjo!  Also be sure to check out the beautiful #511 "red-line" case complete with a very rare Geib and Schaefer label on the underside of the case pocket lid. . . the first one I've ever seen.

September 2, 2014--Here are the Gibson banjo shipping totals for February 1938.  The second of three known electric five-strings was shipped that month, along with two top-tension Mastertones and one RB-75.

August 28, 2014--I have added a page of Prewar Gibson Banjos for Sale.  Right now a 1939 PB-7 Mastertone top-tension conversion to five-string, a prototype 1928 TB-6 Mastertone, a 1930 S.S. Stewart-brand TB-11, and a 1940 TB-11 conversion to five-string are available.  More will be listed soon, including a great-sounding TB-1 conversion and an original five-string RB-11.  Please check back regularly to see what's in stock!

August 24, 2014--TB-7 Mastertone #390-6 is from the second batch of style 7  Mastertones produced; like many top-tension banjos, it had a hard time finding a home back in the late 1930s.

August 11, 2014--Here are the Gibson banjo shipping totals for January 1938, a month in which Gibson shipped fifteen of their new solid-body electric banjos, including one of the three known electric five-strings ever produced.

August 10, 2014--Today's addition is "serpentine flange" TB-2 #8211-40, acquired by longtime owner George Graziani (1910-1985) in a New York City pawn shop in the early 1930s.  Thanks to Mr. Graziani's grandson Bill Broome for providing photos of the banjo along with a rare period photo of his grandfather playing it.

August 8, 2014--I continue to be fascinated by the oddness that crops up in Gibson's style 75 Mastertones produced from 1937 through World War II.  When the current owner of RB-75 Mastertone #EG-4121 first acquired the banjo, he thought that the chrome-plated, Granada-engraved armrest was a later replacement.  Further research has convinced me that it is original. . . thanks to the anonymous owner for sending some updated photos with the armrest back on the banjo!

July 22, 2014--Today I've added the Gibson banjo shipping totals for December 1937.

July 10, 2014--It's been far too long since I did an update and it was nice to hear from some folks wondering what had happened to me!  I hope today's addition helps make up for the long hiatus:  TB-Granada Mastertone #9522-4 was originally owned by Joseph Lutz Flynn, who passed away on April 3rd of this year.

June 3, 2014--Here are the Gibson banjo shipping totals for November 1937, a month when exactly one five-string Mastertone left the factory.

May 20, 2014--I've added a couple of sound files of TB-6 Mastertone #9083-1, the "Glenn Eastham", in its original configuration with calfskin head, prewar ebony bridge with bone top, and some of the original owner's old strings, both with and without the "Vibrato Tone-Master" armrest mute engaged.

May 18, 2014--The Doehler Die Casting Company produced the "pot metal" flanges and tension hoops used on Gibson banjos starting in the late 1920s; this 1942 Doehler publication highlights the importance of the company's die-casting technology to the United States' war effort.

May 14, 2014--Here's one of the rarer "private label" banjos made by Gibson. . . an S.S. Stewart-labeled TB-11 whose case is decorated with the name of a long-forgotten ensemble called the "Venetian Trio".

May 12, 2014--PB-7 Mastertone #DA-5057 has been featured on this site for a number of years and I'm now happy to offer this instrument for sale.  I have posted new photos, shipping information, and sound files; please contact me for more information.

May 3, 2014--Today I've added the Gibson banjo shipping totals for October 1937That was a good month for RB-75s, with six being shipped to locales as diverse as Cincinnati and South Africa.

April 28, 2014--Here are the Gibson banjo shipping totals for September 1937.  So. . . you're the Gibson shipping clerk.  Is that banjo a style 3 or a style 75?  Which way is the wind blowing?

April 27, 2014--Today we have a fully original ball-bearing style 3 plectrum Mastertone that's been in the same family since 1933.

April 22, 2014--Here are the Gibson banjo shipping totals for August 1937, the month the first Mastertones were shipped under the new style 75 designation.

April 18, 2014--Owner William B. Anderson has sent in a photograph of the resonator of RB-3 Mastertone #9602-12 showing that the banjo's original owner was a "D. Sinclair" who acquired the instrument in October 1930.

April 13, 2014--Here are the Gibson banjo shipping totals for July 1937.  On the 2nd of that month, the first style 7 top-tension Mastertone left the factory, taken out as a sample by salesman Robert Anderson; on the 9th, the first style 12 top-tension Mastertone was taken out as a sample by salesman Lawrence "Lanky" Neal.

April 9, 2014--Today's addition is a very rare 1927 Bella Voce Mastertone owned by Chip Douglas of The Turtles and The Monkees fame.

April 8, 2014--Here are the Gibson banjo shipping totals for June 1937.  On the 29th of that month, the first top-tension Mastertone left the factory. . . a TB-18 taken out as a sample by salesmen Robert Anderson and Clarence Havenga.

April 6, 2014--I received this well-used, oddball ball-bearing TB-5 last week and was surprised to learn that it has quite a history involving none other than Grandpa Jones!

April 4, 2014--Finding a previously undocumented prewar Gibson Mastertone still with the family of the original owner is always exciting, but especially when it's likely the first TB-6 with "Argentine grey" finish ever made.

March 30, 2014--Here are the Gibson banjo shipping totals for May 1937.

March 29, 2014--On the heels of MB-11 #DA-5041, the "E.W. Andersen", here's the somewhat nonstandard MB-11 #DA-5042, originally shipped to South Africa in 1938.

March 27, 2014--I have been able to identify the original owner of MB-11 #DA-5041 as E.W. Andersen.

March 26, 2014--Today I've added the Gibson banjo shipping totals for April 1937; I've also located a repair shipment dating to July 27, 1949 for RB-75 Mastertone #DA-5055.

March 25, 2014--Here are the Gibson banjo shipping totals for March 1937.

March 24, 2014--Here's a nice MB-11 which required a replacement neck to be sent from the factory to the New York Band Instrument Company on March 31, 1939.

March 23, 2014--I have been able to identify the original owner of TB-Granada Mastertone #9115-7 as Frank Petta (September 25, 1909--October 25, 1992) of Freeport, Illinois; I have also located a 1933 newspaper article documenting a performance by Mr. Petta.

March 22, 2014--The current owner of RB-75 Mastertone #E4370-4 has sent in two photos of the banjo from 1974, one showing the banjo in its "as-found" condition at the time and one showing himself playing his then-new-old banjo.

March 18, 2014--1920s Granadas with no-hole raised-head tone rings are hard to come by; here's one that turned up in an attic in Connecticut.

March 16, 2014--This orphaned 1930s Granada plectrum neck turned up on eBay last fall installed on a 1960s style 100 pot.  Somewhere out there is a flathead Granada pot missing its original neck. . . I'm currently doing some detective work to try to locate it.  Check back for updates!

March 14, 2014--TB-11 #F688-6, the "Willard Brown", has now been converted to five-string flathead with a neck by Frank Neat and a Tennessee 20 tone ring.  Since this banjo left the factory in 1940, I thought it would be nice to use the inlay pattern seen on many style 75 Mastertones in that period; I think it looks great and the vintage look is enhanced by the original Catalin tuner buttons and pearloid truss-rod cover from the tenor neck.  Be sure to take a listen to the sound files!

March 11, 2014--Here's another great 1920s Granada tenor, this one converted to five-string flathead with a neck by Robin Smith and a Sullivan conversion tone ring requiring no alterations to the original wooden rim.

March 7, 2014--Today's addition is TB-Granada Mastertone #9115-7, possibly the only Granada to leave the factory with a low-profile flathead tone ring.

March 6, 2014--Computer problems have had me out of commission for the past month but I'm glad to be back with PB-1 #9559-41.  Lots more to come!

February 3, 2014--My band The Dappled Grays has a new website!

February 2, 2014--This morning I've uploaded shipping totals for February 1937.

February 1, 2014--RB-4/RB-3 Mastertone #8914-8 is the latest banjo to surface from the odd and fascinating lot #8914.

January 31, 2014--I've added some additional photos of TB-75 Mastertone #E4266-2.

January 26, 2014--Today's addition takes a look at the short-lived style X, one of the strangest chapters in the history of Gibson banjos.

January 25, 2014--This morning I've uploaded shipping totals for January 1937.

January 23, 2014--Here's another fully original flathead five-string:  RB-75 Mastertone #752-1, dating to 1938.

January 19, 2014--I'm really glad to be able to add photos of RB-75 Mastertone #FA-5101, originally shipped to the Stearns Coal and Lumber Company on May 24, 1940

January 15, 2014--TB-1 #122-20 is sold.  I have cleaned up a few older pages this morning and have lots of new things to add in the coming days.

January 9, 2014--Today I have photos of TB-1 #122-20 in its new incarnation with a five-string neck by Frank Neat and an HR-30 tone ring by Steve Huber.  I have also added two new sound files: "Home Sweet Home" and "Cora Is Gone".  This banjo is for sale; please contact me for more information.

January 8, 2014--Here's the previously unlocated TB-3 Mastertone #1012-5 which was originally shipped in 1936, then returned to the factory for repair in 1940; check out the peghead inlay!

January 3, 2014--I have added a few photos of TB-1 #9877-14 with its beautiful new tension hoop by Jaroslav Prucha featuring Granada-style engraving by Nick Kimmons and nickel plating by Steve Huber.  I have also uploaded shipping totals for December 1936.

January 1, 2014
--Happy New Year!  I'm looking forward to lots of great vintage Gibson banjo discoveries in 2014.  My tabulation of Prewar Gibson Banjo Shipping Totals continues. . . here are October 1936 and November 1936.

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