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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Gibson RB-150


Please note this is an archived topic, so it is locked and unable to be replied to. You may, however, start a new topic and refer to this topic with a link: http://www.banjohangout.org/archive/369176

DoBaFe - Posted - 10/02/2020:  10:03:11


The serial number on this banjo’s pot is 6510-23. Banjophiles identifies it as a Gibson 1950 RB-150 with an arch top tone ring, which it has. It also has a bow tie neck, with a bound peg head, and a blank Mastertone finger board block.
Is anyone out there familiar with this banjo: seen it, played it, owned it, heard about it?
I now own this banjo and am very pleased with it; just want to know something about its provenance.
Doug Fennell

RioStat - Posted - 10/02/2020:  10:42:09


Tone ring?  Bound peghead?  Sounds more like an RB 250, to me.



The absence of a tone ring, the RB 150's had a 9 1/2" dia. brass "tone hoop", giving it an archtop look, and an un-bound peghead, are actually the two items that distinguished the 150 from the 250 bow-ties.



Could you post some photos of your banjo? Below is an RB 150 on Greg Earnest's site.



earnestbanjo.com/gibson_banjo_...81-77.htm


Edited by - RioStat on 10/02/2020 10:45:19

Culloden - Posted - 10/02/2020:  11:06:37


Sounds like someone attempted to make a Mastertone out of it by adding the tone ring, binding, and blank pearl block. It would not be the first time someone commited such a travesty. Like Scott, I would like to see some pictures of it before making a judgement call.

DoBaFe - Posted - 10/02/2020:  12:02:52


See photos.



 

Lemon Banjos - Posted - 10/02/2020:  13:38:45


If this banjo is original from the factory, then it is just like my teachers RB-150.

The original owner of my teachers banjo ordered it, and Gibson only had TBs at the time, so they made a 5 string neck and put on the TB pot. The serial numbers dont match, but both serials are from around 1952.

This banjo I am talking about came from the factory with peghead binding, a mastertone block, and a 4 hole archtop tone ring.

If your banjo is original, then I may have just found a banjo just like my teacher's, a rare 150 that is a 250 in all but serial number.

DoBaFe - Posted - 10/02/2020:  14:58:10


I cannot say that my banjo is a factory original, but, from your description, your teacher’s banjo and mine sound alike. At least I now know another banjo like mine exists. And yes, mine has the four hole arch top tone ring. As Spoc would say, “Fascinating!”
Thanks for you reply!

Lemon Banjos - Posted - 10/02/2020:  15:02:17


I just looked at your serial number again, and I think itd be safe to say yours is from around 1952 as well.

DoBaFe - Posted - 10/02/2020:  18:11:04


Just saw your last post, Hunter. At the very least, the two banjos are as close in age as they are in their physical appearance. I understand Gibson’s numbering system was pretty quirky in the late 40s and early 50s, making exact dating difficult. My banjo also has a Presto tailpiece and a chrome armrest, both of which appear newer than the rest of the banjo.
If possible, I’d like to know the serial number of your teacher’s banjo, thought I fully understand if your teacher refuses to disclose it.
Doug

Lemon Banjos - Posted - 10/02/2020:  18:59:22


quote:

Originally posted by DoBaFe

Just saw your last post, Hunter. At the very least, the two banjos are as close in age as they are in their physical appearance. I understand Gibson’s numbering system was pretty quirky in the late 40s and early 50s, making exact dating difficult. My banjo also has a Presto tailpiece and a chrome armrest, both of which appear newer than the rest of the banjo.

If possible, I’d like to know the serial number of your teacher’s banjo, thought I fully understand if your teacher refuses to disclose it.

Doug






Yeah I'm not sure whether he'd want to, and I do not really want to ask him. But like I said, his hs two different serial numbers - one in the rim, and one on the neck heel. Both are from around 1952, however.

DoBaFe - Posted - 10/02/2020:  20:02:09


Good call. Thanks for the info that you did provide.

southerndrifter - Posted - 10/03/2020:  08:24:10


That banjo didn't come from Roxboro, NC did it? If it did, I might know something about it.

DoBaFe - Posted - 10/03/2020:  08:54:52


No, Burlington, NC, though I don’t know where prior to that. I would be interested in what you can tell me, however.

Lemon Banjos - Posted - 10/03/2020:  09:04:15


I would also be very much interested in finding out info on this banjo.

Lemon Banjos - Posted - 10/03/2020:  09:05:48


DoBaFe
Could you post more pictures of this banjo? like views from all around the headstock? I would like to see if there is anything on the headstock binding that would make me think it isn't original binding, and was installed later.

southerndrifter - Posted - 10/03/2020:  09:35:25


quote:

Originally posted by DoBaFe

No, Burlington, NC, though I don’t know where prior to that. I would be interested in what you can tell me, however.






I know of an RB-150 in Roxboro (the first Gibson banjo I ever saw in person) that was purchased from a jewelry store in 1949 or 50. It did not have a Mastertone tone ring but it did have the block in the neck. Double-bound peghead and resonator. It came from the factory that way and other than a broken/repaired peghead and a replaced tailpiece, it was exactly as it came from the factory. I don't know if the banjo still resides in Roxboro, that is why I asked where yours came from. 

DoBaFe - Posted - 10/03/2020:  10:23:34


Lemon Banjos
Pictures from around the headstock. See attachments. Don’t know if I did this correctly. Let me know.




DoBaFe - Posted - 10/03/2020:  10:31:54


Southerndrifter
Just posted some more shots of the headstock. My banjo does have the arch top tone ring, but otherwise sounds like the banjo you saw at the jewelry store in Roxboro. I’m pretty certain that Gibson would not miss a sale, even they had to used mismatched parts to fill it.

southerndrifter - Posted - 10/03/2020:  10:58:23


quote:

Originally posted by DoBaFe

Southerndrifter

Just posted some more shots of the headstock. My banjo does have the arch top tone ring, but otherwise sounds like the banjo you saw at the jewelry store in Roxboro. I’m pretty certain that Gibson would not miss a sale, even they had to used mismatched parts to fill it.






It looks very similar but yours is a different banjo. The one I'm speaking of had a broken peghead that was not fixed professionally. Yours is a very clean looking banjo! I believe the white tuner buttons would date it to early 50s. I would also call your banjo a 250 and not a 150, inspite of what the Banjophiles site might say. It has been known to have inaccurate information! 1954 is generally considered the year Gibson reintroduced the "Mastertone" banjo with the introduction of the style 250. However, there are credible examples of "Mastertones" from earlier than 1954. 


Edited by - southerndrifter on 10/03/2020 11:03:34

Lemon Banjos - Posted - 10/03/2020:  17:42:36


This could very well be like my teachers 150. that binding looks original.

DoBaFe - Posted - 10/03/2020:  18:34:49


Lemon Banjos and Southerndrifter,

Many thanks to both of you for your comments and help identifying my banjo. Whether 150 or 250, it is safe to say it is an early 50s Gibson bow tie. For many people, the exception is the rule regarding Gibson products. The examples you give certainly reinforce that opinion. Like many others, my banjo just doesn’t follow factory specs.

FXHERE - Posted - 10/03/2020:  20:44:23


I have one just like this one. When I got it I was told it was a 54. It had the blank fingerboard block, and the 4 hole tonering. Co-rings on reso, but the peghead was not bound, and I never found a serial number. I assumed someone made it, and the fingerboard was worn out. I ordered a new fingerboard from Custom Inlay, and when it came it had a Mastertone block, so I bound the peghead and made a 250 out of it. Guess I screwed that one up !! It in no way sounds like an archtop. I have 50 plus banjos from Baldwin to Wildwood, and it and a Flatiron are the best in the house.

DoBaFe - Posted - 10/04/2020:  07:43:14


FXHERE

Wow, our banjos must look very similar, right down to the co-ring resonators! Glad to hear yours is a good sounding instrument. Ditto, for me.

I’ve not had a lot of experience with arch tops, though I do have an Ode longneck with the cast metal arch top pot. My Gibson has a very even tone between treble and bass, which I prefer.

Don’t think you screwed up by binding the peg head, perhaps just embellished it a bit. From what I’ve read, Gibson didn’t adhere consistently to its own factory specs or catalog descriptions.

Good to hear from you.

Doug

DHutchens - Posted - 10/05/2020:  06:23:27


Seen a few 100's, 150's and early 250's, but never seen the serial # in that location. Also I'm assuming it has been refretted, because the frets do not agree with that era.  Also has the neck been refinished, I can only see a short section, but from what I can see, I'm not seeing the sunburst I'm used to...


Edited by - DHutchens on 10/05/2020 06:26:44

DoBaFe - Posted - 10/05/2020:  10:40:38


DHutchens

According to the person who set up and sold the banjo, it did not appear refinished. The setup was first rate, and I trust this person.

Yes, the frets probably aren’t original and have been dressed.

According to Gruhn’s Guide, the 150 had a walnut finish, while the 100 had sunburst; he doesn’t comment on the early 250s finish. Though no finish expert, I would call the finish walnut on my 150/250, and the neck and resonator have the same finish.

Of course, given the cottage industry in faking and “reinventing” Gibson banjos, I could be totally fooled—certainly not the first time.

To paraphrase, “A man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest.”

Doug

southerndrifter - Posted - 10/05/2020:  14:29:14


quote:

Originally posted by DHutchens

Seen a few 100's, 150's and early 250's, but never seen the serial # in that location. 






That sorta puzzled me too. Of the several dozens I've looked at over the years, the FON tends to be closer to the tonering and usually on the other side of the rim from where this one is. But then again, you never know with Gibson! Kinda like the "Mastertone" block with no engraving.........maybe a Monday morning or Friday afternoon anomaly!! 

DoBaFe - Posted - 10/05/2020:  15:29:47


Southerndrifter and DHutchins

Well, your questions sent me scurrying to my banjo to remove the resonator, yet again. Yes, the FON is lower down and not close to the tone ring. However, the FON isn’t on the wrong side. Check out earnestbanjo.com rb-150 #6481-77. If one holds my banjo, as he does in picture 12, the numbers are on the same size relative to the neck. I will look at other bow ties from the 50s, but think mine shows the number correctly. No dispute on the anomalies, however. They weren’t as critical an issue then like now.

DoBaFe - Posted - 10/06/2020:  08:10:01


Southerndrifter and DHutchins

Of course I meant “same side relative to the neck” in my last post. Have three new attached photos to view. Hope these show better what I’m trying to say.


Lemon Banjos - Posted - 10/06/2020:  11:10:35


The finish on this banjo even matches my teacher's 150. I am 100% convinced that this is a banjo just like my teacher's - a 150 that came with peghead binding and mastertone tone ring.

DoBaFe - Posted - 10/06/2020:  14:39:05


Lemon Banjos
I should have posted these photos to begin with! Thanks for sticking with the discussion. I am very pleased that the two banjos match. Wonder if Gibson produced others like mine and your teacher’s?
Doug

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