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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: George Gruhn on state of market for prewar Gibson banjos/current day stuff


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/383199

Brian Murphy - Posted - 05/14/2022:  07:12:50


Discussion starts at 39:56  George Gruhn FB Chat 5/13/22

heavy5 - Posted - 05/14/2022:  10:55:46


Used to get George's newsletters back in the 70's , 80's etc ,when I was seriously collecting & wholesaling a few things to dealers & have always considered him to be "THE EXPERT" .



There was a joke floating around then concerning his work ethics that for every minute one of his employees were late would be the amount of time they must submerge their hand in Georges piranha tank .surprise


Edited by - heavy5 on 05/14/2022 10:56:39

Alvin Conder - Posted - 05/14/2022:  12:49:17


Certainly “THE” Expert.

And without question, one of a kind.

Bob Rodgers - Posted - 05/19/2022:  17:47:01


George wrote Books on Vintage insts for years. George knows Guitars,, Banjos are another story. Without calling names, A Pre-War Granada Flathead was brought to his shop for a value, The Mastertone decal was cut. George said it was not original pointing to the decal. He Purchased the Granada for under $1,000.00. Within days it sold for a large profit. He had not studied Banjos very well. LOL ( MY Opinion) There is a Article on this banjo somewhere on the internet. I have read the story, The names involved are in the article. I would Go to Carters and get their opinion on any instrument. When it was GTR on Broadway, Tut Taylor knew old instruments. Randy Woods was not far behind. George was the brains that ran the show,,

kyleb - Posted - 05/19/2022:  20:17:26


Say what you want about George's knowledge of banjos, but one thing is for sure he knows business. But really the only way to truly know is if y'all prewar flathead five string owners put them up for auction and see what happens.

banjonz - Posted - 05/19/2022:  21:24:59


quote:

Originally posted by kyleb

Say what you want about George's knowledge of banjos, but one thing is for sure he knows business. But really the only way to truly know is if y'all prewar flathead five string owners put them up for auction and see what happens.




Back in the 80's I purchased  locally a Slingerland Maybell 5 string.  



I took a photo and sent to to Gruhn for his opinion. This was long before the internet. He wrote back saying it wasn't an original Slingerland because it had a 5 string neck. I contacted my friend who I got it from and he advised that he was selling it on behalf of another. The current owner advised that it was in fact an ORIGINAL 5 string because he bought it from the original owner and it had the original bill of sale stating it was a 5 string (later lost). I wrote back to Gruhn with this information. He got very annoyed that I would question his opinion. He stated that it most likely had a reproduction neck ( who would even want to reproduce a Slingerland neck - it was the one with multilaminates of different colours and ornate pearl inlay. He also stated that it wasn't an original one because "he had never seen one!" Funnily enough, an original 5 string did turn up on his website much later (but it was a more basic one). Go figure. 

kyleb - Posted - 05/20/2022:  05:27:56


quote:

Originally posted by banjonz

quote:

Originally posted by kyleb

Say what you want about George's knowledge of banjos, but one thing is for sure he knows business. But really the only way to truly know is if y'all prewar flathead five string owners put them up for auction and see what happens.




Back in the 80's I purchased  locally a Slingerland Maybell 5 string.  



I took a photo and sent to to Gruhn for his opinion. This was long before the internet. He wrote back saying it wasn't an original Slingerland because it had a 5 string neck. I contacted my friend who I got it from and he advised that he was selling it on behalf of another. The current owner advised that it was in fact an ORIGINAL 5 string because he bought it from the original owner and it had the original bill of sale stating it was a 5 string (later lost). I wrote back to Gruhn with this information. He got very annoyed that I would question his opinion. He stated that it most likely had a reproduction neck ( who would even want to reproduce a Slingerland neck - it was the one with multilaminates of different colours and ornate pearl inlay. He also stated that it wasn't an original one because "he had never seen one!" Funnily enough, an original 5 string did turn up on his website much later (but it was a more basic one). Go figure. 






I get that, but thats my point here. first off i bet hes learned a lot in the last 40 years, but also hes built one of the most successful long term vintage instrument businesses in nashville, well probably the world. And he did it by understanding the market and being a good buisnessman. And like a good buisnessman, his focus has been on high end desirable banjos, specifically flathead mastertones, ones with values in the 6 figures. I dont think any successful business could rely on knowing how to id a slingerland maybe which you're going to struggle to find a market for and is never going to bring much more than $1000. Plus lets not forget that Gruhn employs joe spann as his banjo expert, and i hope no one is questioning his credentials.

Joel Hooks - Posted - 05/20/2022:  07:07:10


There is no denying his credentials, but regarding banjos, specifically classic era (and not guitars), I have yet to see an appraisal he has issued that is 100% correct based on current and up to date available information.

From what I have seen, it looks like relies heavily on the Mugwumps website for his Stewart information, which is a problem.

In fact, I have seen more than a few of his written appraisal letters that are VERY wrong on what they claim the instrument is.

One has to be really hungry for the information. In the last 15 years the available information has become overwhelming. I am afraid that most of the dealers have been left behind.

Bob Smakula and Andy FitzGibbon have kept up more than any other I can think of, they both have put in the work and it shows.

rcc56 - Posted - 05/20/2022:  08:42:28


A more up to date, easy to access online resource on Stewart banjos would be welcomed by many of us, including Mr. Gruhn.
Perhaps you would care to provide us with such a resource.

Joel Hooks - Posted - 05/20/2022:  08:55:37


quote:

Originally posted by rcc56

A more up to date, easy to access online resource on Stewart banjos would be welcomed by many of us, including Mr. Gruhn.

Perhaps you would care to provide us with such a resource.






I work in small textile factory in New England and am only a banjo enthusiast.  Perhaps this would be a job for someone in the business of dealing vintage banjos. 



This can get them started...



  

kyleb - Posted - 05/20/2022:  09:54:53


quote:

Originally posted by Joel Hooks

There is no denying his credentials, but regarding banjos, specifically classic era (and not guitars), I have yet to see an appraisal he has issued that is 100% correct based on current and up to date available information.



From what I have seen, it looks like relies heavily on the Mugwumps website for his Stewart information, which is a problem.



In fact, I have seen more than a few of his written appraisal letters that are VERY wrong on what they claim the instrument is.



One has to be really hungry for the information. In the last 15 years the available information has become overwhelming. I am afraid that most of the dealers have been left behind.



Bob Smakula and Andy FitzGibbon have kept up more than any other I can think of, they both have put in the work and it shows.






i totally agree, but why would you go to him for classic banjos? he doesnt really deal in that. He currently has zero classic era banjos for sale and hardly stocks them.  Its kind of like the like the slingerland question above.  Seek out experts for appraisals, gruhn knows prewar gibson flatheads, and thats what hes speaking to her, a very specific question with a very specific market.  Theres little overlap between someone who would pay 150,000 k for a fat rim granada flathead and someone who would pay big money for an antebellum banjo. 

Joel Hooks - Posted - 05/20/2022:  10:06:32


quote:

Originally posted by kyleb

quote:

Originally posted by Joel Hooks

There is no denying his credentials, but regarding banjos, specifically classic era (and not guitars), I have yet to see an appraisal he has issued that is 100% correct based on current and up to date available information.



From what I have seen, it looks like relies heavily on the Mugwumps website for his Stewart information, which is a problem.



In fact, I have seen more than a few of his written appraisal letters that are VERY wrong on what they claim the instrument is.



One has to be really hungry for the information. In the last 15 years the available information has become overwhelming. I am afraid that most of the dealers have been left behind.



Bob Smakula and Andy FitzGibbon have kept up more than any other I can think of, they both have put in the work and it shows.






i totally agree, but why would you go to him for classic banjos? he doesnt really deal in that. He currently has zero classic era banjos for sale and hardly stocks them.  Its kind of like the like the slingerland question above.  Seek out experts for appraisals, gruhn knows prewar gibson flatheads, and thats what hes speaking to her, a very specific question with a very specific market.  Theres little overlap between someone who would pay 150,000 k for a fat rim granada flathead and someone who would pay big money for an antebellum banjo. 






He has tried to dominate the tiny market of Fred Van Eps flush fret banjos, demanding 5 digit price tags for them in an attempt to drive up the prices of them.



Oh, he deals in classic era banjos.

StudioKing - Posted - 05/20/2022:  10:40:35


I once sold a very early Fender Esquire; the buyer later wanted to return it because he had taken it to Gruhn's, who told him the neck was a repro, because the radius was wrong. Well, it was wrong for the later models, but the first several hundred produced in 1948 at Fender had 9-1/2" radius fretboards, as opposed to the subsequent 7.25" radius. I was very surprised (and annoyed) that Gruhn's would not have been aware of that fact.

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