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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Is a Gibson RB-75 Blackjack a Mastertone?


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/383165

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Cody - Posted - 05/12/2022:  06:46:57


Fun question...I was thinking about this the other day and on the mastertone block of a blackjack, it says "BLACKJACK" instead of Mastertone. It meets the criteria of a Mastertone but doesn't technically say it on the banjo.

Would you consider it a Gibson Mastertone? I think yes of course but I am just curious what others may think.

beegee - Posted - 05/12/2022:  06:51:17


Yes. If it is a Gibson-built banjo with a Mastertone tone ring, its is a Mastertone. Caveat: Gold Tone is now using Mastertone as a trade name. But the Black Jack is modele in the style of a J.D. Crowe banjo.

Alvin Conder - Posted - 05/12/2022:  06:58:42


That was a good question. I always puzzled over it.

It’s a Mastertone in all ways, except it says “BlackJack” on the fingerboard. The few that I have handled over the years were beautiful instruments, but were they Mastertones? Even the owners could not give me a definitive answer.

1. “No, it’s a BlackJack”
2. “Yes, it’s a Mastertone Blackjack”

I’m going with...Yes?

The Old Timer - Posted - 05/12/2022:  07:05:08


Pre war Bella Voces, Florentines and All Americans didn't say "Mastertone" anywhere on the outside. They were certainly Mastertones "+"!!

MoJoBanjo - Posted - 05/12/2022:  07:12:12


Good article on the history: vintageguitar.com/21783/gibson...e-banjos/
I have a Blackjack and have always considered it a Mastertone....for whatever that's worth...akin to the "Sports package" version of a Honda Accord. ;-)

Cody - Posted - 05/12/2022:  07:14:08


Yeah to me I would say its obviously a Mastertone but an interesting thought none the less.

cabinwood - Posted - 05/12/2022:  07:41:18


All Gibson tone- ringed banjos have a Mastertone label on the inside w/ the exception of some of the floorsweeps from WWII , as far as I know.

corcoran - Posted - 05/12/2022:  07:55:59


quote:

Originally posted by The Old Timer

Pre war Bella Voces, Florentines and All Americans didn't say "Mastertone" anywhere on the outside. They were certainly Mastertones "+"!!






Also the model 6 and Royal P-T.

nibert26 - Posted - 05/12/2022:  08:37:34


Some blackjack models said mastertone on the pear bar and others said blackjack


Anything Gibson with a tone ring from the factory is considered a mastertone model whether it be archtop or flathead



So yes

A blackjack is considered a mastertone

Culloden - Posted - 05/12/2022:  08:43:31


One interesting thing about the Blackjack is that it was the only gold-plated mahogany banjo Gibson ever made.
Gibson also made a J. D. Crowe model which is an RB75 design. The Blackjack is quite different from a 75.

mrphysics55 - Posted - 05/12/2022:  09:42:25


Sounds like one for Set Theory

A Mustang is a Ford.
But a Ford ain’t necessarily a Mustang.

Cody - Posted - 05/12/2022:  10:04:49


Good point about the label. It is settled. There is clearly a Mastertone Label on the inside rim.

Bradskey - Posted - 05/12/2022:  10:46:20


Of course?

I think Mastertone isn't just a label, but an overall design, with variations, produced by Gibson. And yeah, there's usually the label in the rim.

Emiel - Posted - 05/12/2022:  11:12:34


quote:

Originally posted by nibert26

Anything Gibson with a tone ring from the factory is considered a mastertone model whether it be archtop or flathead

 






No, the RB-180 is not considered a Mastertone.



J.Albert - Posted - 05/12/2022:  11:14:38


The answer is "yes".

That's all you need to know.

Gallaher - Posted - 05/12/2022:  11:32:48


Now consider “Ball Bearing” Mastertones.
That’s not a solid Mastertone ring but they are clearly labeled Mastertone.

banjoy - Posted - 05/12/2022:  12:14:53


Yes, an RB-75 is a Mastertone.

Emiel An RB-180 does not have a tone ring, it has a brass hoop, so therefore, it is not a Mastertone.

Alvin Conder - Posted - 05/12/2022:  13:43:56


Actually the RB-180 does have a Mastertone Flathead tone ring in it. I think they were Faulkner rings.

I always wanted to take one of those pots and put a 1/2 fretless standard neck on it and make a “Secret Weapon” old time style banjo.

But that adds to the mix that not all Gibson banjos with a flat head ring are Mastertones.

Then there are the ball bearing Mastertones as mentioned, and... well it’s Gibson.

Emiel - Posted - 05/12/2022:  13:52:44


quote:

Originally posted by banjoy



Emiel An RB-180 does not have a tone ring, it has a brass hoop, so therefore, it is not a Mastertone.






Sorry, but the RB-180 does have the 20-hole flathead tone ring. And still, it's not a Mastertone!

banjoy - Posted - 05/12/2022:  14:50:56


quote:

Originally posted by Emiel

quote:

Originally posted by banjoy



Emiel An RB-180 does not have a tone ring, it has a brass hoop, so therefore, it is not a Mastertone.






Sorry, but the RB-180 does have the 20-hole flathead tone ring. And still, it's not a Mastertone!






You're right, my bad. I was confusing it with an RB-175 which has the hoop.

eljimb0 - Posted - 05/12/2022:  16:19:02


My Epiphone EB-88 is a Mastertone (in my opinion)

okbluegrassbanjopicker - Posted - 05/12/2022:  17:22:36


quote:

Originally posted by nibert26

Some blackjack models said mastertone on the pear bar and others said blackjack





Anything Gibson with a tone ring from the factory is considered a mastertone model whether it be archtop or flathead







So yes



A blackjack is considered a mastertone






What is a "pear bar"?



Never heard the term before.

nibert26 - Posted - 05/12/2022:  18:34:14


My phone put pear bar



It meant to say PEARL BAR in reference to the pearl mastertone block on the neck

rcc56 - Posted - 05/12/2022:  18:53:09


And here's the count so far [including me]:

Is an RB 180 a Mastertone?

Yes: 2
No: 3
Maybe: 0

How about an Epiphone EB-88?

Yes: 1
No: 0
Maybe: 1

Sooooo, not what does the label say, but what in your heart of hearts do y'all say about a '74 RB-250?

My vote is for "Perhaps." Or maybe "just kind of." Or perhaps "maybe, maybe not."
Or how about "not really . . . unless you find a good one."


Edited by - rcc56 on 05/12/2022 18:57:38

okbluegrassbanjopicker - Posted - 05/12/2022:  19:01:10


quote:

Originally posted by nibert26

My phone put pear bar







It meant to say PEARL BAR in reference to the pearl mastertone block on the neck






Got it.



 Yes, autocorrect or "predictive" mode can be extremely annoying.



 I was thinking, maybe a "pear bar" is something only certain banjos have.



 Richie Dotson had this bizarre typo in an instruction manual for assembling a Gold Tone OB-250 kit.



 The manual called for "two picnics" as one of the items on the assembly list.

The Old Timer - Posted - 05/12/2022:  20:37:35


rcc56, a 1970s Gibson RB 250 is also a Mastertone. It says so right on the fingerboard, and that's how Gibson advertised it. At the time it was considered a "better" Mastertone than the late 1960s Mastertone.

BanjoLink - Posted - 05/12/2022:  20:44:55


quote:

Originally posted by nibert26

Some blackjack models said mastertone on the pear bar and others said blackjack





Anything Gibson with a tone ring from the factory is considered a mastertone model whether it be archtop or flathead







So yes



A blackjack is considered a mastertone






So is my mid 30's TB-2 a Mastertone?smiley

rcc56 - Posted - 05/12/2022:  22:41:25


quote:

Originally posted by The Old Timer

rcc56, a 1970s Gibson RB 250 is also a Mastertone. It says so right on the fingerboard, and that's how Gibson advertised it. At the time it was considered a "better" Mastertone than the late 1960s Mastertone.






 



If it sez it, it must be true . . . wink



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



Hey, what happens if by some fluke Gibson gets interested in banjos again??  And no, I don't see any chance of that happening, not at all.



But if they did, would they try to find a way to regain control of the Mastertone name??  


Edited by - rcc56 on 05/12/2022 22:48:44

KCJones - Posted - 05/13/2022:  04:51:24


If it's about the construction and not the label, does that make an early 2010s Sullivan a Mastertone? It's the same banjo with a different label.

eljimb0 - Posted - 05/13/2022:  22:39:52


Because gold tone has that name now.. The "brand" connection has been legitimately broken. There are 10,000 copies are out there in various degrees of authenticity, quality, and desirability. Make no mistake, some of them are great banjos.
I think anything that follows the well known parameters can probably use that single word in good conscience. And I agree that that sucks.

lightgauge - Posted - 05/14/2022:  06:20:25


So has Mastertone become a style of banjo now rather than indicative of a brand ? If not, it seems to be headed there.

notty pine - Posted - 05/14/2022:  15:11:02


No pearl block, no problem. Love my 1925 Mastertone.

Old Hickory - Posted - 05/14/2022:  15:58:59


quote:

Originally posted by lightgauge

So has Mastertone become a style of banjo now rather than indicative of a brand ? If not, it seems to be headed there.






No.



Mastertone is now a registered trademark of Gold Tone Music Group. They're putting the name on several banjos and some other instruments. Because the purpose of trademark is to indicate source, Mastertone now is supposed to mean certain instruments from Gold Tone.



But there's 80 or so years of history of Mastertone meaning tone ringed resonator banjos from Gibson, which never took steps to actually own the name. Despite Gold Tone now owning the name, Mastertone will always also mean great 20th and 21st century banjos from Gibson.



All that said, banjo folks also use terms such as Mastertone-style or Mastertone-type banjo to describe banjos built following the Gibson Mastertone model or platform of solid wood rim, cast bell metal tone ring and one- or two-piece flange. But if those banjos didn't come from Gibson between the 1920s and 2009 or from Gold Tone today, they are not literally Mastertones.

Old Hickory - Posted - 05/14/2022:  16:08:47


quote:

Originally posted by rcc56

Hey, what happens if by some fluke Gibson gets interested in banjos again??  And no, I don't see any chance of that happening, not at all.

But if they did, would they try to find a way to regain control of the Mastertone name??  






Gold Tone's trademark proceeded because Gibson withdrew its objection. I'm no lawyer, but I would think that was Gibson telling Gold Tone "It's yours." So if Gibson were to make banjos again -- which I'm certain is never happening -- I believe they have abandoned al claim to the name Mastertone and by withdrawing their challenge to Gold Tone's registration have left themselves with no way to reclaim it in the future.

lightgauge - Posted - 05/14/2022:  16:12:36


Did you see the Prucha Mastertone in the classifieds?

Old Hickory - Posted - 05/14/2022:  16:13:58


quote:

Originally posted by Culloden

One interesting thing about the Blackjack is that it was the only gold-plated mahogany banjo Gibson ever made.

Gibson also made a J. D. Crowe model which is an RB75 design. The Blackjack is quite different from a 75.






Which of these banjos had the Sullivan-made Gibson-stamped Crowe tone ring? The Crowe RB-75 or the Blackjack? Or both?

Old Hickory - Posted - 05/14/2022:  17:04:59


quote:

Originally posted by lightgauge

Did you see the Prucha Mastertone in the classifieds?






I'd guess that Prucha did that as a custom order because I'm pretty sure they don't otherwise put "Mastertone" on their banjos.

Culloden - Posted - 05/14/2022:  21:21:45


quote:

Originally posted by Old Hickory

quote:

Originally posted by Culloden

One interesting thing about the Blackjack is that it was the only gold-plated mahogany banjo Gibson ever made.

Gibson also made a J. D. Crowe model which is an RB75 design. The Blackjack is quite different from a 75.






Which of these banjos had the Sullivan-made Gibson-stamped Crowe tone ring? The Crowe RB-75 or the Blackjack? Or both?






I'm pretty  sure the Crowe RB75 did. I don't know what was in the Blackjack. Both banjos may have had the same ring.

Bradskey - Posted - 05/15/2022:  10:02:57


Mastertone as a co-opted Gold Tone "brand" for some Chinese junk is a completely different thing. However I've frequently heard the phrase "Gibson Mastertone" over the years, which provides sufficient context when discussing the real deal.



Gold Tone may get away with using the label, but I'll never accept those as proper Mastertones. They are not, and they never can be. They're basically just a lie. Now I know similar things have happened to other classic brands from decades past, and that there's really no reason to get bent out of shape about it. But this one should have been left alone, and I'll never thank Gold Tone for what they've done. I know Gibson being Gibson substantially have themselves to blame also. Insofar as Gold Tone primarily sells to beginners and less sophisticated students who often quickly give up, or the occasional beater banjo for a more advanced player, they probably don't much care what people like me think (ie, people who own or know what a Mastertone is).  They must believe it helps their brand or their sales.  But they've also probably destroyed some goodwill with this little stunt, IMO.


Edited by - Bradskey on 05/15/2022 10:05:33

okbluegrassbanjopicker - Posted - 05/15/2022:  10:53:27


quote:

Originally posted by Bradskey

Mastertone as a co-opted Gold Tone "brand" for some Chinese junk is a completely different thing. However I've frequently heard the phrase "Gibson Mastertone" over the years, which provides sufficient context when discussing the real deal.



Gold Tone may get away with using the label, but I'll never accept those as proper Mastertones. They are not, and they never can be. They're basically just a lie. Now I know similar things have happened to other classic brands from decades past, and that there's really no reason to get bent out of shape about it. But this one should have been left alone, and I'll never thank Gold Tone for what they've done. I know Gibson being Gibson substantially have themselves to blame also. Insofar as Gold Tone primarily sells to beginners and less sophisticated students who often quickly give up, or the occasional beater banjo for a more advanced player, they probably don't much care what people like me think (ie, people who own or know what a Mastertone is).  They must believe it helps their brand or their sales.  But they've also probably destroyed some goodwill with this little stunt, IMO.






Wow, seems you are purposely out to eat Gold Tone's lunch.



"They are not proper Mastertones and never can be."



As far as that goes, the Bela Fleck "Bluegrass Heart" and the 100 percent legal "OB-3 Mastertone Twanger," seem to me like the closest Gold Tone has gotten to producing modern Mastertone-type banjos (the OB-250+ included.)



 Sure, maybe it's not a GIBSON Mastertone, but who's to tell them they can't put the Mastertone block in the fretboard? 

 There is more than one way to define a "proper" Mastertone, as you put it.



Which is a "real" Mastertone? A Gibson Mastertone or a GT Twanger Mastertone? Neither is less of a "real" Mastertone. 



If we want to get into the narrowest definition of "proper Mastertone," that means a Gibson Mastertone banjo explicitly produced at one of the two Gibson factories.





"They are basically just a lie."



Pretty bold claim. I'd like to have other Gold Tone owners back you up on that one.



 



 This is not a "stunt" by Gold Tone.



 Gold Tone is not one of these companies that seems not to care about quality control.

 If they had no interest in producing instruments that DIDN'T have any appearance of quality, and can be played out of the box with minimal setup, it makes no sense why they would bother acquiring the Mastertone trademark.



 I would not hesitate to try out a Twanger if there were one close by.



 



"Some chinese junk."



I have seen flimsy banjos on Amazon that fit that description much closer than anything Gold Tone ever built.

 Maybe Gold Tone makes plastic "junk" ukeleles for kids, but their bigger "adult" instruments cannot simply be lumped together as "chinese junk." 


Edited by - okbluegrassbanjopicker on 05/15/2022 11:08:57

rexhunt - Posted - 05/15/2022:  11:17:41


quote:

Originally posted by The Old Timer

Pre war Bella Voces, Florentines and All Americans didn't say "Mastertone" anywhere on the outside. They were certainly Mastertones "+"!!






As Dick points, they don't say Mastertone anywhere on the outside but they still have the Mastertone warranty sticker on the inside.



Rex

O.D. - Posted - 05/15/2022:  15:01:57


I hear folks refer to their "Gibson" banjo far more then their "mastertone" banjo.

The name "Gibson" carries more weight then the "mastertone" name IMHO.



All the cool kids play Gibsons.



Everett


Edited by - O.D. on 05/15/2022 15:03:22

rcc56 - Posted - 05/15/2022:  15:38:11


quote:

Originally posted by Old Hickory

quote:

Originally posted by rcc56

Hey, what happens if by some fluke Gibson gets interested in banjos again??  And no, I don't see any chance of that happening, not at all.

But if they did, would they try to find a way to regain control of the Mastertone name??  






Gold Tone's trademark proceeded because Gibson withdrew its objection. I'm no lawyer, but I would think that was Gibson telling Gold Tone "It's yours." So if Gibson were to make banjos again -- which I'm certain is never happening -- I believe they have abandoned al claim to the name Mastertone and by withdrawing their challenge to Gold Tone's registration have left themselves with no way to reclaim it in the future.






Ken, you took my question more seriously than it was meant.



But . . .   If they did decide to get back in the banjo business, I'm not sure that not having a legal leg to stand on would make much of a difference.  They have a continuing history of pursuing primrose paths . . .

lightgauge - Posted - 05/15/2022:  16:36:45


Those of us who revere the old Mastertones feel this cheapens the image we respect. From a business standpoint, it is a smart move to sell more banjos. I highly dislike it, but the owners of Gold Tone are doing their job and I understand it, while wishing it wasn't the case.

KCJones - Posted - 05/16/2022:  10:09:33


The Bela Fleck OB-3 is more of a Mastertone than anything Gibson was making in the mid-70s, that's for sure. I don't see how anyone could argue that.



Take 3 banjos. A 1974 RB-250, a 2012 Sullivan, and a 2022 OB-3. Which one is the "true Mastertone"?



The term Mastertone is the same as Dobro. Is it a trademarked brand? Sure. Does anyone care? No.



Similar to how any resophonic guitar with a square neck is called a dobro regardless of who made it, blany banjo with a thick rim, heavy tone ring (flathead/archtop), "sandwich" construction with 1 or 2 piece flange, and a resonator, is a Mastertone.



 


Edited by - KCJones on 05/16/2022 10:15:06

mikehalloran - Posted - 05/16/2022:  14:54:44


quote:

Originally posted by BanjoLink

quote:

Originally posted by nibert26

Some blackjack models said mastertone on the pear bar and others said blackjack





Anything Gibson with a tone ring from the factory is considered a mastertone model whether it be archtop or flathead







So yes



A blackjack is considered a mastertone






So is my mid 30's TB-2 a Mastertone?smiley






No style 2 ever came with a Mastertone ring as advertised by Gibson.

250gibson - Posted - 05/16/2022:  15:49:46


quote:

Originally posted by Old Hickory

quote:

Originally posted by rcc56

Hey, what happens if by some fluke Gibson gets interested in banjos again??  And no, I don't see any chance of that happening, not at all.

But if they did, would they try to find a way to regain control of the Mastertone name??  






Gold Tone's trademark proceeded because Gibson withdrew its objection. I'm no lawyer, but I would think that was Gibson telling Gold Tone "It's yours." So if Gibson were to make banjos again -- which I'm certain is never happening -- I believe they have abandoned al claim to the name Mastertone and by withdrawing their challenge to Gold Tone's registration have left themselves with no way to reclaim it in the future.






No one knows the dealings between Gibson and Gold Tone. There could have been an out of court agreemeent between Gold Tone and Gibson. Something along the extent of Gibson agreeing to withdraw the challenge for now and let gold tone use the name with the caveat that if Gibson started producing banjos again Gold Tone would relinquish/or sell the name back to Gibson. Gibson may not want it back after Gold Tone is finished diluting and ruining it by putting it on any thing and everything that could be considered a musical instrument. 

Old Hickory - Posted - 05/16/2022:  16:31:24


quote:

Originally posted by KCJones

The term Mastertone is the same as Dobro. Is it a trademarked brand? Sure. Does anyone care? No.






The companies that spend a lot of money to register, protect and defend their trademarks care.



quote:

Originally posted by KCJones

Similar to how any resophonic guitar with a square neck is called a dobro regardless of who made it, blany banjo with a thick rim, heavy tone ring (flathead/archtop), "sandwich" construction with 1 or 2 piece flange, and a resonator, is a Mastertone.






Yes, people incorrectly use the word dobro (lower case) to refer to any resophonic guitar. Just as many use the work coke to refer to any cola drink, or kleenex to refer to any tissue. Inability of trademark owners to get people to stop doesn't make it right.



Seeing as Fender, Ode, Deering, Stelling or any of the other modern non-Gibson makers of sandwich construction banjos never called their instruments "Mastertone" I think the industry if not players agreed that only Gibson made Mastertones -- until Gibson stopped and Gold Tone registered the name, which Gibson in its infinite stupidity never did.



Now that Mastertone is a registered trademark, or on its way to becoming one, that solidifies the fact that not every sandwich construction banjo is a Mastertone.  And from now on, Mastertone doesn't exclusively mean banjo. 



I dislike that as much as anyone. But that's the way it is.



 



 

BanjoLink - Posted - 05/16/2022:  17:11:42


quote:

Originally posted by mikehalloran

quote:

Originally posted by BanjoLink

quote:

Originally posted by nibert26

Some blackjack models said mastertone on the pear bar and others said blackjack





Anything Gibson with a tone ring from the factory is considered a mastertone model whether it be archtop or flathead







So yes



A blackjack is considered a mastertone






So is my mid 30's TB-2 a Mastertone?smiley






No style 2 ever came with a Mastertone ring as advertised by Gibson.






Mike, as you should know, Gibson did not advertise everything they made.  The made at ;east one lot of TB-2 with 40 holes archtop rings.  They are just like the Mastertones except the hole for the second coordinator rod is plugged.  They are very rare and I have only seen one other for sale other than the one I own.


Edited by - BanjoLink on 05/16/2022 17:11:59

lowG - Posted - 05/16/2022:  23:45:31


If Gibson built it, and Gibson literally states that it is a Mastertone,



then it must be a Gibson Mastertone.  



acousticmusic.org/wp-content/u...talog.pdf



(This looks like 1923-24 data, not 1919.)


Edited by - lowG on 05/16/2022 23:52:55


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