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SOLD For Sale: SOLD: A Most Extraordinary Gibson 'parts' banjo

Posted By: larry p (+5) | Rate Member
 Member 10+ Years

$9,000 USD

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A most extraordinary Gibson ‘parts’ banjo:
The banjo that’s the subject of this listing has been many years in the making.
It began its life as a 100% factory original RB-00, with the exceptionally rare, full thickness rim, the same rim that was used in the construction of the Gibson Mastertone banjos of the 1930s-early 1940s. I commissioned a friend to do some work on the original 5 string neck and resonator, and those parts subsequently disappeared, so I was left with only the ‘pot’.
Some time ago I acquired a mid 1950s Gibson RB-250 that, for the most part was destroyed, save for the rare, original Gibson flat head tone ring that was original to the banjo. This ring is a bit strange, in that the underside of the ring is gold plated. This gold plating extends up to about where the 20 holes are drilled in the face of the ring, and it’s nickel from there all the way down to the bottom of the skirt; I’ve never seen another ring plated like that, and have no idea how it was done. The gold plating on the underside of this ring looks like the underside of a prewar arch top or flat head ring. I’ve shown this ring to two local authorities on prewar Mastertones, without telling them anything about what I know about the ring, and they both said ‘it’s an old ring, likely one of the first post war flat heads to come from Gibson in the 1950s’. Both suggested that I have the ring analyzed, as there’s a possibility that it might be a hold over from the end of the ‘prewar’ Mastertones in the early1940s. I had the rim from the orphaned RB-00 machined to fit the ring, and assembled the ‘pot’ with prewar and early postwar parts I had in stock, because by that time I had a few other components that I felt were just right for the banjo, & I couldn’t wait to get it all together. The old ‘00’ pot had been sitting dormant for many years, and I was ready to, at long last-to get it back to being a banjo again.
I’d had a ‘deep dish’ resonator from a prewar Gibson ‘Recording King’ in the old parts bin for years. The back of the resonator looks like a gorgeous, prewar Granada; stunning curly maple, with an original, Gibson sunburst finish, and it’s poplar lined, just like the old Mastertones. I had this resonator modified by ‘Huber Banjos’ to ‘Mastertone’ specs, and they did an extraordinary job with it-leaving the original binding and finish unmolested.
What really got me fired up about getting this banjo together was finding an incredible neck for the project; it was originally a prewar, one piece flange 5 string RB-1 neck with the ‘coke bottle’ peg head and dot inlay pattern, that Steve Huber’s brother transformed into a Granada by trimming the ‘ears’ of the peg head, adding both the front and back peg head overlays from an original ‘Flying Eagle’ TB-Granada neck, and inlaying the ‘Flying Eagle’ inlay from the prewar Granada neck into the original Brazilian rosewood fret board. The neck retains its original ‘top hat’ 5th string pip. Being an original, prewar Gibson 5 string maple neck, with the masterful conversion that’s been done to it, makes this neck as close to an original 5 string Granada neck as I’ve ever seen. The neck is fitted with a prewar set of Grover ‘pancake’ tuners, and feels and plays great, with that perfect, prewar Gibson scale that few modern neck builders approximate.
Since I’ve had the banjo together, it sounds and plays so great I haven’t had the heart to take it apart to have the ring analyzed, though I realize that doesn’t make very much sense from a business perspective. Simply put-it ‘sounds’ like a great prewar flat head, and that’s been good enough for me. I’ve been blessed to own and play quite a few original flat heads over the years, and feel I have some sense of what a ‘good one’ sounds like. With the prewar, full thickness shell, a tone ring that’s AT LEAST 50 years old, an original, pot metal one-piece flange, prewar pot metal tension band, prewar stamped Grover ‘Presto’ tailpiece, prewar poplar lined resonator, prewar maple 5 string neck, and a new ‘Huber’ head & bridge-it’s truly a dream banjo that can be had for a fraction of the price that the factory original Gibson flat head 5 strings are bringing these days. With the original peg head overlays, inlay on the fret board, and the patina of the old hardware, and a pretty convincing looking 'Mastertone' sticker inside the old rim-the banjo looks almost as good as it sounds. This fine, once in a lifetime banjo is currently housed in one of the old ‘Huber’ red line cases that looks very much like one of the old original red line cases, but we have several of the new ‘Guardian’ fiberglass cases in stock that would likely be far more suitable for shipping if that’s necessary. I’d greatly prefer that the buyer pick the banjo up ‘in person’, A-so that you can play it and examine it to your satisfaction, and B-I’d hate to entrust this instrument to any of the shipping companies we have to deal with these days.
Until recently, the above described banjo, and the one that’s been ‘my main banjo’ for many years now were two banjos I felt I would never sell: it’s ‘that kind’ of banjo. Here at the old Perkins homestead we’re about to embark on a few lifestyle changes, which is going to involve the purchase of a bus or a big motor home, and that’s the ONLY reason this banjo is being offered at this time. If the tone, volume, projection, look, and feel of a prewar flathead is what you’ve been looking for-this is one banjo you need to put on your list of ones to check out before making a decision. It's as close as you'll ever come to finding a prewar 5 string nickel plated Granada.
Interested parties are welcome to call me at 615-351-0195, or email me at Come see us, and bring whatever your idea of a great sounding banjo is, and put ‘em through the paces. We’ll take it anywhere you want to go to have it independently evaluated.


United States, Nashville, TN, 37204


to be determined

Payment Methods:

Check/Money Order, Cash (in person), Paypal

Condition of Item(s):

Used - Excellent Condition



Gibson Parts

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