Hi. I am looking to buy a 1969 Gibson RB-250. I can't seem to find out the specs on this model. I am curious what thickness of rim it would have. Is it 3 ply or multi-ply etc. What is the value? Thanks.
Some of them sounded good in spite of the thin rim, and folks like those. This one with the fiddle cut peghead was only made for a year or so, so it's a little bit rarer than the run of the mill bowtie 250s.
I'd suggest around $2000+ depending on how fast you want to sell. Condition counts for everything. The photos look pretty good.
Folks sometimes put a modern 3 ply thicker rim in these banjos and seem pleased with the results. Costs a few hundred.
1/2 inch rim? Really? Isn't that what they put in beginner banjos? My Recording Kings RK-R20 has a 1/2 inch rim. Wow!
Yes. The rims were thin enough that the flathead tone ring hung over on the inside edge. A lot of early Japanese Masterclones copied the thin rim that Gibson used in those days. Complete with the overhanging tone ring.
This is in fact the transition year RB 250, made only 2 years, 1968 and 1969, or maybe 1969 and 1970... anyway, there's that. Most I have seen were 1 piece flange, flathead, standard finish (tobacco brown) but MANY have been seen with the "orange sunburst" finish; chrome as opposed to nickel hardware, Kluson stairstep tuners, fiddle peghead, short L brackets (pot dropped fully into the resonator, flange sat against the ledge in the resonator) short nuts on the hooks, generally 3 thumbscrews, thin multiply rim, blah blah ... sure, some sounded really good. And my thoughts are they generally fetch a "bit" more than the earlier paddle head stock RB 250, but NOT MUCH. and that - probably only because they are of course more rare.
When did the Gibson 250 start sounding like most of the 70's do? 1968? To me, a 70's 250 sounds bad. I'm wondering how far back I'd have to go in the 60's or even 50's to avoid the 70's sound, which to me is the way Bela sounds (as opposed to Earl). No aspersions on Bela. It's just that his tone is not what I'm looking for.
About 1964 Gibson went to the "thin" rim, something like 7/16" or <1/2". Previously have been more like 9/16" where the inner bottom lip of the tone ring was flush with the inner face of the wood rim.
I believe one of the Gibson researchers (Joe or Greg) recently reported that the "thin rim" came about because Gibson had their amplifier maker take over manufacture of banjo rims, and the thickest bent wood they could make was 7/16". Extremely interesting.
The "1970s" Gibsons, that looked sort of like RB 75 inlaid necks but with two piece flange and fiddle peghead, went back up to quite thick rim, thicker than 9/16", like the old pre war two piece flange times, but it was an obvious approx. 10 ply plywood construction. Looked passingly like Vega rim construction. This is how the "1970s" Mastertones were built for 10 years or more. The two piece flange is the key visual clue.
So if you want to avoid the two worst periods of Gibson rims, you'd want to stay pre-1964 or post 1985 or so (I don't know if possibly the RB 250 rim was "corrected" before the Greg Rich error, by others who were beginning to try to improve Mastertones, a la the first Scruggs model in 1984.)
By the time of the Greg Rich error, they were back to 3 ply 9/16" with one piece flange.
Being in the banjo market at that time as I was, the disappointment in Gibson RB 250s was palpable from late 1960s to the mid 1980s. Bill Emerson did a pretty scathing review in Bluegrass Unlimited in 1970-71. He gave Fender Artist and Ode/Baldwin C and D models a huge push in that set of reviews. Since they didn't even try to look like Gibsons, that threw the doors open to small makers and the Japanese to recreate the most desirable looking Masterclones. Alvarez, Iida, Ibanez and the like leading to the most successful -- Gold Stars.