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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Gibson Tenor banjos

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dmacal - Posted - 03/25/2021:  07:57:58

Hi, I was hoping somebody could help me with identifying my Gibson tenor banjo's and maybe give some estimate of their value.

I have three old Banjos and I know little about any of them. Any information would be a great help.

Serial 1110A-17

Serial 11531-1

Serial 8433-58

I live in Ireland but did spend a number of years living in Arizona.

The First one I got from a banjo player friend from Arkansas in 1998 while living in Arizona.

I purchased the second one here in Ireland in around 1993

The third I purchased while living in Phoenix in 1996.

Any information you have would be greatly appreciated..

Best regards

Diarmuid Mac Alasdair

Culloden - Posted - 03/25/2021:  09:33:35

8466-58 is a TB1 made in 1926. The other two come from the pre-Mastertone era(1919-1924). I can't see them well enough to know if they have trap door resonators or not. I looked on Greg Earnest's web site but it is still under construction so I could not get any better information as to year, style, etc. Someone who knows pre-Mastertone Gibsons better than I do should be able to identify them better.

dmacal - Posted - 03/25/2021:  09:44:39

Serial 1110A-17 has a trapdoor
Serial 11531-1 looks like it might have had one at some stage

G Edward Porgie - Posted - 03/25/2021:  09:53:42

The first one pictured (1110-17) is not a tenor banjo, but a plectrum banjo. It should be tuned CGBD. Tenor (CGDA) tuning will damage the neck. It is proably a PB3, but it's hard to tell with only one picture taken from a poor angle. I'd guess it's from 1924. Does it have a "trapdoor"--Gibson's early version of a resonator?

The second (11531-1)appears to be a TB4 tenor, also from the "trapdoor" era. It's missing the tailpiece cover. Again, does this have the trapdoor?

The third looks like a TB1 from 1925-6.

Value can't be determined without more and better pictures (front, back, sides, insides, details of hooks, nuts, tuners, and other hardware, etc.), but none of them would rank as highly valuable. There is not a huge demand for tenor banjos, and even less for plectrum banjos, and because they are the older 10 1/2 inch rim Gibsons, they are not particularly desirable as candidates for 5-string conversions.

rcc56 - Posted - 03/25/2021:  09:55:43

11531-1 is a TB-4 made in 1922.

1110A-17 is a style 3, probably made in 1924; but I believe you have left a digit out of the serial number. The early A series numbers should have 5 digits before the letter A. If I'm not mistaken, it is an early plectrum banjo rather than a tenor, which would make it a PB-3.

Typically, the 2 early model banjos would bring anywhere from a few hundred dollars [US] to a maximum of perhaps $1000, more or less, if in good condition.  Plectrum trap door models are rather rare, but I do not know if that would have any effect on the value.

I'm not qualified to estimate a price for the diamond flange banjo.

Edited by - rcc56 on 03/25/2021 10:01:52

G Edward Porgie - Posted - 03/25/2021:  10:02:52

Just saw the two new pictures. 1110A-17 is the trapdoor model, but since I can't see inside, it's still too dificult to tell the exact model. Hardware does appear to be original.

11531-1 has a hollow rim, an early design by a man named Kraske (I can't reacll his first name) that Gibson used for a while.

dmacal - Posted - 03/25/2021:  10:08:21

You are correct about the serial. I missed a zero. It should be 11100A-17


dmacal - Posted - 03/25/2021:  10:13:04

Inside the trapdoor on 11100A-17

G Edward Porgie - Posted - 03/25/2021:  12:06:19

I figured you had left out a number, but it really didn't mean much. 11100A is definitely a PB-3 because it has 22 frets clear of the rim, rather than a tenor's 17 or 19. While these plectrum models are more scarce than the tenors, it doesn't affect the value as far as I know. The nice part about this one is that it's complete. The tailpiece covers on the early Gibsons tend to get lost, and I've seen more than a couple with broken trapdoors.

I own a PB3 (11055A-10) and it has a very nice tone, in my opinion, but it's one of the "broken trapddor" Gibsons I have seen, and those are extremely hard to find.

I think Bob Chuckrow's value estimates are about right except that I( doubt you'd get $1000 for either 11100A-17 or 11541-1. I am no expert on the later Gibsons, such as your TB-1, but it does appear to have the 10 1/2 inch rim, which isn't the most popular size.

dmacal - Posted - 03/25/2021:  12:16:46

Thanks everyone for the info. Much appreciated.

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