I bought an RB-800 from Wesley Jackson - Jackson’s Music Store in downtown Atlanta in 1969. It was a flying eagle/double cut headstock. Wesley was a wonderful human being. I didn’t keep this banjo very long - I sold it at the Bean Blossom festival in 1971.
I have owned two, still have one. One “Original” 800 with the one piece flange and the weird head stock. Didn’t care for it much. Gone. The one I still have is the one photographed in my pages. Despite all the bad press, a wonderful instrument and I would be hard pressed to ever get rid of it. Beautiful neck, plays like a dream and sounds great. Picked it up years ago in Philadelphia from a guy who supplied banjos to mummers. True. He had zero use for a 5 string, He said that it sat in his shop for years, so I picked up up cheap, even for then. My Wife laughed when she first saw it.
The engraving is just about invisible, looks like zero effort was put into it, like a 4:30 on Friday job. The gold plating is legendary. I tried to clean the instrument once with a fine jewelers rouge cloth and light rubbing took the gold plating off like it was dust.
Gibsons of that period as you know run the full gamut of quality. My instrument got the short stick on engraving, but makes up for it with sound. Best of all is the fire engine red and lemon yellow sunburst. My Brother refers to it as the banjo I have that was stolen from a house of ill repute.
People either love 800’s or claim to hate them. That being said, I never met a banjo player ever say he didn’t want one...
I agree some of the 800 engraving is poor , however at least it was done by hand & not stamped or rolled on as are some "quality" banjos . This one I've kept also has excellent tone & still looks great so for now I'm hanging on to it . I like the patina on the head of yours , it portrays its history of lots of good playing .
I think you will find the engraving on the single piece flange 800's was done by hand utilizing the same people who did the Conn Horn engraving, after the change to the two piece flange it was pantographed by Maudie Moore who also did the pantograph inlays and inlaying for Gibson.
To the best of anyone's knowledge, were repro parts (800 style gold plating and correct engraving pattern) ever available? Of course lots of gold plated and engraved parts have always been available from other manufacturers, but they use their own engraving patterns. I'm talking about essentially, knock-offs of the Gibson 800 style tone rings and tension hoops? Like maybe back in the 60s, 70s or even the 80s? Did the Japanese copy that stuff? Anyone over here?
I will cut to the chase here and show you guys the source of my head-scratching but I need some assistance because I am new at this. Can someone explain how to post photos inside a thread? Or would it be better if I have multiple photos to place them in my media and then refer to them there?
The armrest has been somewhat knocked off, its pressed patterns rather than engraving, but I'm not sure that any of the other parts were reproduced over seas. As I mentioned earlier, Moore did the pantographed engravings after the two piece flange was introduced, but some accent engraving were added to some of them.