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Trouble identifying this Gibson Mastertone Banjo. HELP!?

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Feb 26, 2020 - 5:10:33 PM
12 posts since 2/26/2020

Hey all,
First post here...I'm trying to identify a banjo that is on consignment in my store for a lovely lady that is trying to sell her late husband's Gibson Mastertone-ish Banjo. Gibson wasn't much help as we can't find a serial. Photos are the only evidence i have here, the case looks original to the 70's era gibson cases. Not a banjo expert in any means.








Feb 26, 2020 - 5:16:59 PM

rcc56

USA

2568 posts since 2/20/2016
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If you remove the resonator, you might find a serial number on the inside of the banjo's rim.

If there is no serial number anywhere on the banjo, it would mean that parts have been changed, or that the banjo was not built by Gibson.

I am not an expert on modern era Gibsons, but there are a couple of things on this particular banjo that look unusual to me-- the spacing of the rings on the resonator, and the use of "hearts and flowers" inlay on the fingerboard of a mahogany banjo.

Edited by - rcc56 on 02/26/2020 17:31:32

Feb 26, 2020 - 5:28:17 PM

12 posts since 2/26/2020

I can attach a picture of it if it helps, but the inside only has a pencil mark of someones name and a "1973" looking very unoffical. No serial to be found. Could we have just a mastertone neck and aftermarket body possibly?
 
quote:
Originally posted by rcc56

If you remove the resonator, you might find a serial number on the inside of the banjo's rim.

If there is no serial number anywhere on the banjo, it would mean that parts have been changed, or that the banjo was not built by Gibson.

I am not an expert on modern era Gibsons, but the combination of appointments on this particular banjo looks unusual to me.


Feb 26, 2020 - 5:41:31 PM
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rcc56

USA

2568 posts since 2/20/2016
Online Now

Pictures of the inside of the rim would be very helpful.

After a closer look, I am not sure that any part of that instrument was built by Gibson.

Virtually all Gibson Mastertone banjos have a serial number either stamped into the rim or into the back of the peghead, no matter when they were built.

There were several people building replicas of Gibson banjos in 1973.  In those days, it was not unusual for some builders to not put their own names anywhere on the instrument.

But I need to bow out and let someone more knowledgeable take it from here.

Edited by - rcc56 on 02/26/2020 17:45:52

Feb 26, 2020 - 5:44:12 PM

10520 posts since 6/2/2008

quote:
Originally posted by rcc56

After a closer look, I am not sure that any part of that instrument was built by Gibson.


I agree.

Looks like a copy to me.

Feb 26, 2020 - 5:51:56 PM

12 posts since 2/26/2020

Trying to upload a few more pictures here....




Feb 26, 2020 - 5:57:06 PM

12 posts since 2/26/2020

appreciate all the help guys. I to question its authenticity as its an odd one. I will most likely have to sell it as a knock-off, which she will be disappointed to hear as they value is now dramatically different! Any thoughts on a realistic selling/value?

Feb 26, 2020 - 6:00:23 PM
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RioStat

USA

5140 posts since 10/12/2009
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I'd guess a '60's pot (thin black rim, 4 hole archtop tone ring) with a conversion neck and a conversion neck with aftermarket resonator.

Does the flange have a Doehler mark on it?

Edited by - RioStat on 02/26/2020 18:02:11

Feb 26, 2020 - 6:05:45 PM

rcc56

USA

2568 posts since 2/20/2016
Online Now

I think Scott is on the right track . . .

Feb 26, 2020 - 6:09:30 PM

12 posts since 2/26/2020

I don't see any markings on it, unfortunately. Other than "Gibson" and "Mastertone" on the neck/headstock, the tuners are Keith x4 on the headstock the tailpiece says "Presto". It also weighs a solid 11 lbs.  
 
quote:
Originally posted by RioStat

I'd guess a '60's pot (thin black rim, 4 hole archtop tone ring) with a conversion neck and a conversion neck with aftermarket resonator.

Does the flange have a Doehler mark on it?


Feb 26, 2020 - 6:24:40 PM
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1176 posts since 7/12/2004

quote:
Originally posted by MartelMusic
I don't see any markings on it, unfortunately. Other than "Gibson" and "Mastertone" on the neck/headstock, the tuners are Keith x4 on the headstock the tailpiece says "Presto". It also weighs a solid 11 lbs. 

 


4 Keith tuners may be worth as much as the rest of the banjo.

Feb 26, 2020 - 6:41:20 PM

12 posts since 2/26/2020

What would you say its realistically worth? 500? @waystation 
quote:
Originally posted by waystation
quote:
Originally posted by MartelMusic
I don't see any markings on it, unfortunately. Other than "Gibson" and "Mastertone" on the neck/headstock, the tuners are Keith x4 on the headstock the tailpiece says "Presto". It also weighs a solid 11 lbs. 

 


4 Keith tuners may be worth as much as the rest of the banjo.


Feb 26, 2020 - 8:12:41 PM

HarleyQ

USA

3091 posts since 1/31/2005

It's worth a lot more than $500. It all depends on what parts was used. Looks like a Gibson 4 hole tone ring,

Feb 26, 2020 - 8:17:38 PM
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1176 posts since 7/12/2004

quote:
Originally posted by HarleyQ

It's worth a lot more than $500. It all depends on what parts was used. Looks like a Gibson 4 hole tone ring,


$500 for four Keith tuners, $500 for the rest of the banjo. Whether or not that's an exaggeration, the tuners make the banjo worth quite a bit more.

Feb 26, 2020 - 8:52:30 PM
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4452 posts since 11/20/2004

No word on if the Keith tuners are regular or D-tuners, but well below 500 either way.
This could very well be Stew Mac hardware and parts on a 60's rim and ring as mentioned already or could be import parts. More could be determined in person, but pricing on just these pics, I would think $800 would be a reasonable ballpark.

Feb 26, 2020 - 9:31:13 PM
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12657 posts since 10/30/2008

I don't think the flange is original Gibson/Doehler. It doesn't have any of those little dimples or sprue marks or whatever they are that are quite prominent on real Gibson one piece flanges. Too smooth and pretty. I agree the 4 hole arch top ring, and maybe the black rim, and late 60s Gibson.

That doesn't make this a "bad" banjo, just not all original Gibson. I'd say around a $1000 makes sense, maybe a little more if it sounds REALLY good or the neck is REALLY good quality.

Feb 26, 2020 - 10:48:36 PM

3866 posts since 9/21/2009

If the neck is good quality, it should be worth 750 to 800 alone!

Feb 27, 2020 - 4:00:32 AM
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1456 posts since 11/27/2005

parts banjo

Feb 27, 2020 - 4:19:07 AM

tlong

USA

137 posts since 2/5/2009

Tone ring looks like it might be chrome. Flange looks like may be cast brass or bronze.

Feb 27, 2020 - 5:27:42 AM
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3364 posts since 4/27/2004

I believe that flange is stamped brass that has been nickel plated. The resonator is most likely Asian. Tailpiece is the adjustable "Presto" copy like the ones Gold Star used to use.

Feb 27, 2020 - 9:53:29 AM
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12 posts since 2/26/2020

Thanks everyone, i provided our friend the updates and she's happy to have the most accurate/correct info we can. She's elderly and doesn't use the internet so thanks everyone for the helping hand here.

Feb 27, 2020 - 3:32 PM

369 posts since 12/14/2008

It is 100 percent a copy. Still might sound ok, but not a gibson.

Mar 6, 2020 - 8:56:51 PM

Fathand

Canada

11562 posts since 2/7/2008
Online Now

quote:
Originally posted by rcc56

 and the use of "hearts and flowers" inlay on the fingerboard of a mahogany banjo.


Hearts and Flowers with Mahogany is typical of early RB4s up to about 1929 often with archtop. Perhaps someone was attempting to replicate one.

Mar 6, 2020 - 9:02:26 PM

Fathand

Canada

11562 posts since 2/7/2008
Online Now

Did anyone ever repop 4 hole archtop rings? Is the ring likely Gibson ?

Mar 6, 2020 - 9:17:56 PM

3 posts since 8/10/2010

The neck is definitely a repro. Gibson did not do their frets like that. The frets in the pic are extending over the binding, Gibson did not do that. A fiddle cut peghead normally would have a two piece flange. The neck binding also looks thicker than Gibson used. Not sure about the pot, but the absence of a decal or factory order number number is suspect. Gibson usually stamped the factory order number on the rim. Hope this helps.
RLA

Mar 9, 2020 - 2:47:35 PM

jwold

USA

1176 posts since 7/21/2004

quote:
Originally posted by MartelMusic
I don't see any markings on it, unfortunately. Other than "Gibson" and "Mastertone" on the neck/headstock, the tuners are Keith x4 on the headstock the tailpiece says "Presto". It also weighs a solid 11 lbs.  
 
quote:
Originally posted by RioStat

I'd guess a '60's pot (thin black rim, 4 hole archtop tone ring) with a conversion neck and a conversion neck with aftermarket resonator.

Does the flange have a Doehler mark on it?


The truss rod cover has a little Narwhal engraved on it.  


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