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Gibson pre-war banjos with truss rod covers inscribed w/named performers.

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Jul 12, 2019 - 3:36:41 PM
126 posts since 12/18/2012

Looking at the Andrew Metzgar under discussion on this board (9337 below), I noticed the "font" and scroll work for the name in script on the truss rod cover is almost identical to a few others on Greg Earnest's website (links below), and to the "Frank Victor" (1928 TB 6) which I have. Truss rod covers are certainly one of the least permanent parts of the banjo, easily/frequently changed, but I'm curious how common this factory labeling on the t.r. cover was, and if there are others out there with the same font/script on a prewar Gibson.

My impression is that often these "named" banjos were given to prominent musicians (Frank Victor was apparently both a banjo and guitar player, but known mostly as a guitar player in the late '20s and early 30's) who often turned around and sold them at shows, after speaking highly of them.

earnestbanjo.com/9337-1peghead.jpg
earnestbanjo.com/9153-14peghead.jpg
earnestbanjo.com/9522-4_gibson...flynn.jpg


Jul 12, 2019 - 5:47:11 PM
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493 posts since 5/19/2018

Interesting subject. Would be pretty fun and informative to see how many of these truss covers we could come up with and what history we know of.

I’ll add one of mine off of a beautiful very early 1925 Style 4 I have.

Bill Shaffer was a pretty prominent band leader in the Philadelphia, Allentown and Reading area in the late teens and 1920’s. After he got out of the music playing business, he apparently ran a string of music store that supplied instruments and gave lessons.


 

Jul 12, 2019 - 9:34:08 PM
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rcc56

USA

2252 posts since 2/20/2016

I had a late Gibson A-4 mandolin [circa 1932] that had a cover engraved with the name "F. Slimer." [!!]
I'm not making this up.
I did google the name and found that people named Slimer indeed did exist in the US in the '30's. Me, I think that if it was my name, I would change it.

Jul 13, 2019 - 3:50:39 AM
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1301 posts since 10/5/2006

Alvino Rey PB-Florentine 9274-1


 

Jul 13, 2019 - 6:32:40 AM

3323 posts since 4/27/2004

quote:
Originally posted by Alvin Conder

Interesting subject. Would be pretty fun and informative to see how many of these truss covers we could come up with and what history we know of.

I’ll add one of mine off of a beautiful very early 1925 Style 4 I have.

Bill Shaffer was a pretty prominent band leader in the Philadelphia, Allentown and Reading area in the late teens and 1920’s. After he got out of the music playing business, he apparently ran a string of music store that supplied instruments and gave lessons.


The "Margaret Boote" RB-4 had the exact same design engraved above and below her name on the truss rod cover!

http://earnestbanjo.com/9703-1pegheadfront.JPG

Jul 13, 2019 - 8:36:16 AM

493 posts since 5/19/2018

So the questions I have are, where these truss rod covers a custom feature offered by Gibson at time of ordering?

Or where they an aftermarket item that people purchased from a third party?

If a third party, who?

Jul 13, 2019 - 10:21:48 AM

adl1132

USA

126 posts since 12/18/2012

Good question. I had assumed the four I've seen (black, with white inscriptions) looking so similar, came that way from the factory when they were presented to the celebrity musician, to stroke their ego, etc. But I suppose they could be custom add-ons from a common non-factory source.

Jul 13, 2019 - 10:23:31 AM
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3323 posts since 4/27/2004

quote:
Originally posted by Alvin Conder

So the questions I have are, where these truss rod covers a custom feature offered by Gibson at time of ordering?

Or where they an aftermarket item that people purchased from a third party?

If a third party, who?


I'm pretty sure they were done by Gibson for an additional charge. And for the people who endorsed for Gibson, it was probably done for free. 

Jul 13, 2019 - 1:18:47 PM

12173 posts since 10/30/2008

I dug out my trusty Gibson 1937 "Y" catalog reprint, which has an extensive section on Accessories, right down to individual strings, picks, tuners, bridges, frets, binding, etc. Nowhere in this catalog are inscribed truss rod covers offered.

Still, I think a buyer could contact Gibson and get one, somehow or other. Especially on a custom order. Just my thoughts...

Jul 14, 2019 - 4:39:55 AM
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14806 posts since 2/7/2003

Lynwood is 100 percent correct

Scott

Jul 14, 2019 - 9:22:53 AM

8914 posts since 1/15/2005

My TB-6 has the name Gladys Stevens on it. I don not think that she was a performer, but do not know that for sure. Since the banjo was sent back to Gibson from dealers once or twice, I suspect that the truss rod cover was probably sent back for engraving after Gladys bought the banjo.

Jul 14, 2019 - 10:07:56 AM

5147 posts since 12/20/2005

This is the peghead on a Gibson GB1. I think from 1931.
The trussrod cover is huge, with the name SECCHI spelled out in rhinestones.
The rest of the front of the banjo as well as the tuners are pretty much given the same treatment.
I doubt this was a factory job, but who knows.
I don't know if SECCHI was a player, or a luthier, or possibly the name of a guild.
Not what you usually run across, but I like it. Fabulous sounding banjo.


Jul 14, 2019 - 2:13:01 PM

adl1132

USA

126 posts since 12/18/2012

Thanks for the replies, everyone.

Leslie: Secchi could also guide you home on a foggy night!

John: is the Gladys Stevens script similar to the Frank Victor?

Jul 14, 2019 - 8:06:33 PM

8914 posts since 1/15/2005

Allan .... here it is!


 

Jul 14, 2019 - 8:31:52 PM

adl1132

USA

126 posts since 12/18/2012

Well, with the notable exception of Secchi, they're not identical, but there seem to be some pretty similar elements to the script and design.

To me, it's Gibson factory until convinced otherwise.

Jul 15, 2019 - 11:38:56 AM

Fathand

Canada

11448 posts since 2/7/2008

Stelling offers custom truss rod covers on their website last I checked. I imagine it was the same for Gibson (maybe still) and many other companies.

Any jewellery shop or engraving kiosk in a mall could do this.

Jul 15, 2019 - 11:44:09 AM

1764 posts since 1/4/2009

Interesting topic, however i think its very hard to say this was done at the gibson factory. Has anyone looked for examples from other insturment makers? Or where truss rods still just a gibson thing in the prewar days?

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