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Where Should the Market be for This One?

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Feb 17, 2020 - 8:46:15 PM

Bill Rogers (Moderator)


23212 posts since 6/25/2005

It’s an original 1928 solid-ring archtop 5-string Mastertone.  I suspect it’s a consignment, but don’t know.   I have no sense of the market for these, since they are quite rare, hence this post.


Disclaimer: I have no connection with this banjo, and have not seen it in person.

Feb 17, 2020 - 10:25:31 PM



2564 posts since 2/20/2016

A rare banjo. In better condition, I would think it would be considered highly desirable.

It has a repaired peghead break. That will limit the pool of potential buyers.
But try and find another one. Not so easy to do.

I know of a no-hole archtop RB Granada in extremely fine condition that sold for many times more than what Gryphon is asking for this instrument.

Feb 18, 2020 - 5:30:21 AM

762 posts since 5/19/2018

Pretty much a very rare instrument. Not too long ago I would not be surprised if a banjo like this without the damage would be worth at least in the high teens if not the low twenties for value.

Now I hear of people trying to sell good condition, all original instruments for in the low to mid teens and they are not getting any solid hits or offers.

Gryphon has had this one for a while, while I feel the asking price is fair, but the number of people who would want an instrument such as this is getting more limited each day. As mentioned in other threads, the people who were the big collectors are aging out of the market and are starting to dump instruments, and younger people either don’t have the resources, or just flat out don’t collect instruments. I really don’t know one vintage banjo collector , or any vintage instrument collector under the age of 55. Actually, I’m the youngest one I ever knew of, and I’m pushing my sixth decade.

Five - eight years ago, at that price and condition, I would have jumped on it. Sold what ever to make it happen. Now....we’ll it would be nice to have and that’s as far as I get.

All the same, beautiful instrument. Shame for the crack.

Feb 18, 2020 - 8:00:17 AM

12655 posts since 10/30/2008

I've been following this posting at Gryphon.

I remember a few decades ago an original 5 string arch top RB 3 in VG condition was in the market in New England at $5000, which was mind-bogglingly high for that time. I had a chance to look it over. It was said to have been Fred Bacon's own banjo.

Personally, I felt with a broken headstock, Gryphon's banjo would never sell at their asking price. For that kind of money you can get a really good double conversion TB or PB OPF 3, 4 or 75 which is an easier sell. The repair on this RB 3 is not "top" quality IMHO. Whether a top luthier could "hide" that repair is an open question.

I also agree that an original arch top RB-3 sells into a pretty small market; it's just not that popular a Mastertone.

If this Gryphon banjo were MUCH lower priced, I'd call Robin Smith and ask what magic he could work on the repair, and maybe take the plunge (I like old TPF arch tops).

Feb 18, 2020 - 9:50:44 AM

1175 posts since 7/12/2004

If it was a one piece flange it would be worth close to double the asking price. I don't understand the aversion to the two piece flange, which was a more stable design, but there you are. There is a sound difference but the 2PF sound as prewar as the OPF banjos, to my ear.

Also to my ear, solid archtops sound consistently better in OPF banjos, 40 hole archtops in 2PF. The Gryphon description implies that there was a progression from solid to 40-hole, but Gibson continued to use both styles from 1928 through the end of archtop production when Gibson introduced the top tensions - check the Banjophiles list. The amateur neck repair also removes a lot of value.

I'd say $7000 would be a fair price that would leave enough cash to pay for a professional to clean up the neck repair.

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