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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Early 50's Gibson Banjos


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/382721

BanjoLink - Posted - 04/19/2022:  05:59:02


Having owned prewar Gibson banjo and new Gibson banjos starting in 1967, I kind have always overlooked the their banjos from the 50's to early 60's. Oh I have seen plenty of them but just haven't paid attention. A few questions.

Were the rims the same thickness and number of plies as the pre-war rims? I know my '67 RB-250 is a thin rim.

Were the Doehler flanges the same as pre-war (shiny on top, dull on the bottom)?

Did the RB-150's have two coordinator rods?

TIA ..... just curious.

Oldtwanger - Posted - 04/19/2022:  06:15:53


quote:

Originally posted by BanjoLink

Having owned prewar Gibson banjo and new Gibson banjos starting in 1967, I kind have always overlooked the their banjos from the 50's to early 60's. Oh I have seen plenty of them but just haven't paid attention. A few questions.



Were the rims the same thickness and number of plies as the pre-war rims? I know my '67 RB-250 is a thin rim.



Were the Doehler flanges the same as pre-war (shiny on top, dull on the bottom)?



Did the RB-150's have two coordinator rods?



TIA ..... just curious.






Hi John

The Doehler flange dieset was reworked again after WWII and before the startup of banjo production postwar, resulting in a reduction of inside diameters.  The nickel plating process was different postwar resulting in a flange that was shiny both sides.

The rims were the same 3-ply as late 30's early 40's but the outside of the lower skirt was turned a bit thinner to accommodate the new flange i.d.  

The rim construction changed and became quite thin around 1965 with tonering overhang.

The original -150's I have encountered had one coord rod.

 

BanjoLink - Posted - 04/19/2022:  07:10:54


Thanks Frank ...... answered all of my questions!

Old Hickory - Posted - 04/19/2022:  10:10:22


quote:

Originally posted by BanjoLink

Thanks Frank ...... answered all of my questions!






To amplify what Frank said:



Post-war rims were 3-ply throughout the 1950s. Multi-ply was introduced in or by 1963. I believe '62 was still 3-ply, but I could be wrong.



The pre-war flange inner diameter (at the bottom) was 10-13/16. Post-war: 10-11/16.



I have a Doehler 1950s or 1960s flange on my parts/mongrel RB250 and the plating appears to be the same brightness both sides. I believe it's nickel, not chrome.

BanjoLink - Posted - 04/19/2022:  10:12:44


quote:

Originally posted by Old Hickory

quote:

Originally posted by BanjoLink

Thanks Frank ...... answered all of my questions!






To amplify what Frank said:



Post-war rims were 3-ply throughout the 1950s. Multi-ply was introduced in or by 1963. I believe '62 was still 3-ply, but I could be wrong.



The pre-war flange inner diameter (at the bottom) was 10-13/16. Post-war: 10-11/16.



I have a Doehler 1950s or 1960s flange on my parts/mongrel RB250 and the plating appears to be the same brightness both sides. I believe it's nickel, not chrome.






Thanks Ken.  We also hear about some pre-war parts being used on early post-war production banjos.  Maybe a question for Joe Spann, but does anybody have on authority that this was indeed the case?

Joe Spann - Posted - 04/19/2022:  11:07:05


quote:


Thanks Ken.  We also hear about some pre-war parts being used on early post-war production banjos.  Maybe a question for Joe Spann, but does anybody have on authority that this was indeed the case?



I've never personally seen an example of a post World War II Gibson banjo with what I thought were "original to the banjo" pre-war parts.



Joe Spann - Nashville, TN

Old Hickory - Posted - 04/19/2022:  11:23:25


quote:

Originally posted by Joe Spann

quote:


We also hear about some pre-war parts being used on early post-war production banjos.  Maybe a question for Joe Spann, but does anybody have on authority that this was indeed the case?



I've never personally seen an example of a post World War II Gibson banjo with what I thought were "original to the banjo" pre-war parts.






So you're suggesting there's nothing to the occasionally expressed belief that Gibson did not use up all its existing banjo parts by 1941 leaving some of these available for the earliest post-war, late '40s, banjos?



I guess a lot of people have simply assumed this must have happened.



I have absolutely no idea.

BanjoLink - Posted - 04/19/2022:  11:43:43


quote:

Originally posted by Joe Spann

quote:


Thanks Ken.  We also hear about some pre-war parts being used on early post-war production banjos.  Maybe a question for Joe Spann, but does anybody have on authority that this was indeed the case?



I've never personally seen an example of a post World War II Gibson banjo with what I thought were "original to the banjo" pre-war parts.



Joe Spann - Nashville, TN






Thanks Joe ..... that is what I have always thought as the preponderance of that theory has come from people wanting to sell something from that era and wished to leave the impression that it might be prewar.

rcc56 - Posted - 04/19/2022:  12:03:13


quote:

So you're suggesting there's nothing to the occasionally expressed belief that Gibson did not use up all its existing banjo parts by 1941 leaving some of these available for the earliest post-war, late '40s, banjos?



I guess a lot of people have simply assumed this must have happened.



I have absolutely no idea.



---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------




Anyone who has ever worked in manufacturing knows that any sizable quantity of unused parts lying around for 5 or 10 years is an unwanted liability.


Even a sometimes haphazardly operated company like Gibson tries to avoid tying up money on parts with no way to make a sale and get a return on money they have spent.  That's why they shipped a lot of banjos that varied from catalog specifications and built "floorsweep" banjos:  so they could use up surplus parts, ship an instrument, make a sale, and replace the money spent in buying or making those parts.


By the time Gibson shipped their last wartime banjo circa 1943, I doubt that they had enough parts left over to build even one more banjo.



 


Edited by - rcc56 on 04/19/2022 12:03:49

rockybottom16 - Posted - 04/19/2022:  13:10:40


I own a couple early 60's Mastertones, one of them a '64. The rims on both are brown stained and full thickness. From the bottom they look like 5 ply, but when you remove the tone ring you can see that they are indeed 3 ply rims. Apparently, Gibson routed a couple channels and inlayed strips of wood to cover unsightly ply seams. A practice that probably would not have been needed if the rim-making craftsmanship had been up to prewar standards.

danielburdett - Posted - 04/19/2022:  16:34:16


quote:

Originally posted by Joe Spann

quote:


Thanks Ken.  We also hear about some pre-war parts being used on early post-war production banjos.  Maybe a question for Joe Spann, but does anybody have on authority that this was indeed the case?



I've never personally seen an example of a post World War II Gibson banjo with what I thought were "original to the banjo" pre-war parts.



Joe Spann - Nashville, TN






What about Ron Stewart's Skillethead banjo?  I thought that was one he claimed to be from the early 50's but that had a prewar rim and ring.

BanjoLink - Posted - 04/19/2022:  21:37:56


quote:

Originally posted by danielburdett

quote:

Originally posted by Joe Spann

quote:


Thanks Ken.  We also hear about some pre-war parts being used on early post-war production banjos.  Maybe a question for Joe Spann, but does anybody have on authority that this was indeed the case?



I've never personally seen an example of a post World War II Gibson banjo with what I thought were "original to the banjo" pre-war parts.



Joe Spann - Nashville, TN






What about Ron Stewart's Skillethead banjo?  I thought that was one he claimed to be from the early 50's but that had a prewar rim and ring.






"claimed" would be the operative word!

Bob Rodgers - Posted - 04/20/2022:  05:52:59


I have seen and took apart Ron Stewart,s old bowtie. I can say this. The rim and ring in that banjo is like no other bowtie i,ve ever seen. The rim is not stained the color normally seen in other banjos of that style. Stained a lighter color.  Its a fatrim banjo.  The tone ring does not look like a Gibson ring from that era. Looked more pre war than post war. The Old Gentleman who sold that banjo to Ron gave him some advise. DO NOT let anyone remove the wood rim and ring from this banjo. He did not explain his reason for those words.  Somewhere,  I have pictures of this banjo apart of the rim and ring. Ron ask me to give him my opinion of his banjo. i gave him my opinion thru a email,  My opinion only. My only request of him was, This is for your use only. I Will Not be involved in any discussions regarding your banjo.  

Joe Spann - Posted - 04/20/2022:  07:49:41


As I stated above, I have never personally seen a post-war Gibson banjo with verifiable pre-war Gibson parts.



I have never personally seen Ron Stewart's banjo.



Of course, it is also worth remembering that Gibson continued to use Doehler Die Casting as the source of flanges through the year 1969 and the Star Brass Works as the source of tone rings through the fall of 1954.



Joe Spann - Nashville TN

BanjoLink - Posted - 04/20/2022:  09:37:14


Maybe "claims" is not the right word to use, since that is an assertion of truth that is not backed up by proof. My guess is that Ron stated that based on his observation, and that of others, that the 50's pot could be assembled from prewar parts. I would never say that it could not have happened, as no person could know with 100% certainty.

rockybottom16 - Posted - 04/20/2022:  15:46:17


quote:

Originally posted by rockybottom16

I own a couple early 60's Mastertones, one of them a '64. The rims on both are brown stained and full thickness. From the bottom they look like 5 ply, but when you remove the tone ring you can see that they are indeed 3 ply rims. Apparently, Gibson routed a couple channels and inlayed strips of wood to cover unsightly ply seams. A practice that probably would not have been needed if the rim-making craftsmanship had been up to prewar standards.






It seems I was having a "senior moment" and misspoke:  My 63 Bowtie appears to be a brown-stained, full thickness 5 ply rim.  I had a '61 or '62 a few years ago, and that was definitely 3 ply even though the bottom looked like 5 ply.  

eljimb0 - Posted - 04/21/2022:  03:56:30


This is a 1957 rb-100. It has a 3 ply full width rim and a shiny back side dohler flange. I tried to show the filler strips, they have square butt ends that meet close to the neck end The three plys have over-lap joints (you can see the inside joint in the serial number photo)




Joe Spann - Posted - 04/21/2022:  04:52:30


quote:

Originally posted by eljimb0

This is a 1957 rb-100. It has a 3 ply full width rim and a shiny back side dohler flange. I tried to show the filler strips, they have square butt ends that meet close to the neck end The three plys have over-lap joints (you can see the inside joint in the serial number photo)






Jim, some good news. The Factory Order Number (FON) of your RB-100 (7076-14) actually indicates that it was produced in the year 1951.



So, your banjo is good evidence that the "shiny back" Doehler was already present on Gibson banjos by 1951.



Joe Spann - Nashville TN

eljimb0 - Posted - 04/21/2022:  13:58:30


Thanks Joe! ...Now it is a pre-Korean war++. (one war at a time) :)

BanjoLink - Posted - 04/21/2022:  15:00:48


Thanks JImbo ..... good photos!

RCraft - Posted - 04/22/2022:  02:49:40


I have a TB-100 from the same batch as Jimbo's (7076-54) and have also always believed it to be from 1957 based on the information on Banjophiles. I will, of course, defer to the knowledge Mr. Spann. Thank you for the information.

Joe Spann - Posted - 04/22/2022:  06:22:58


quote:

Originally posted by RCraft

I have a TB-100 from the same batch as Jimbo's (7076-54) and have also always believed it to be from 1957 based on the information on Banjophiles. I will, of course, defer to the knowledge Mr. Spann. Thank you for the information.






If the batch number had a "7" prefix (i.e., 7-7076-54), then it would be a 1957 production date.



Joe Spann - Nashville TN

kyleb - Posted - 04/22/2022:  07:02:08


does anyone have a info and pictures of Ron Stewarts Skillet head? all I can find is links to the yates made ones.

Mike Casey - Posted - 04/23/2022:  17:10:34


I have an RB 150 # 882-10, said to be 1949. It has the archtop look with the brass ring toward the inside of the rim. It is in great condition and the neck is comfortable playing to me. I wonder if Mr. Spann would give me information on the serial number and year made? I would appreciate knowing for sure. It is stamped on the inside of the rim A lot of these old rims have had flathead or archtop rings added, but I left this one as it came from the factory. Now that I've gotten older I'm glad I did. It's easier on the back and it has a pretty good pop to it too. There is definitely something to the old wood sound. MVC

Joe Spann - Posted - 04/24/2022:  04:47:58


quote:

Originally posted by Mike Casey

I have an RB 150 # 882-10, said to be 1949. It has the archtop look with the brass ring toward the inside of the rim. It is in great condition and the neck is comfortable playing to me. I wonder if Mr. Spann would give me information on the serial number and year made? I would appreciate knowing for sure. It is stamped on the inside of the rim A lot of these old rims have had flathead or archtop rings added, but I left this one as it came from the factory. Now that I've gotten older I'm glad I did. It's easier on the back and it has a pretty good pop to it too. There is definitely something to the old wood sound. MVC






Batch 882 waws reached very late in the year 1948. Probably November or December.

Mike Casey - Posted - 04/24/2022:  10:38:09


Thank you Mr. Spann. I certainly appreciate your information and it makes some sense. It came with the Kluson tuners used on the 1949 and onward banjos. I learned later that the 1948 banjos came with what I call "Box Kluson" tuners. They are shaped like a box instead what became the standard shape. I was able to acquire a set some years ago and finally had them installed on this banjo by Ron Barnes, may he rest in peace. They are a very distinctive looking set of tuners and I think more attractive than the original equipment tuners that came on it. Your information indicates a late1948 RB-150 construction and the "Box" tuners are within that first year of production post war. Thank you again. Mike

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