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Floorsweep TB-6/Florentine/Granada/Bella Voce?

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Apr 6, 2020 - 4:21:44 PM
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65 posts since 10/15/2010

Saw this on Ebay. Has a little of everything. Has anyone seen one like this before?
ebay.com/itm/153889140336?ul_noapp=true

Apr 6, 2020 - 4:37:54 PM

2020 posts since 10/17/2013

Whew! Talk about banjo cosmetic overload! 

That banjo is something else!

Apr 6, 2020 - 4:55:37 PM

3012 posts since 5/29/2011

I don't know if it was a floor sweep or not but it certainly has a mish mash of parts, TB6 fingerboard(ebony and all), Florentine resonator and peghead carving, Bella Voce tailpiece, and the rhinestone butterfly on the peghead. The ad claims it is from the 1920's but floor sweep does sound reasonable.

Apr 6, 2020 - 5:05:22 PM
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1231 posts since 7/12/2004

Not an unreasonable combination of parts for a Gibson floor sweep. Would be good to get a look at the inside and get the FON.

Apr 6, 2020 - 5:47:37 PM

863 posts since 5/19/2018
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This guy is about 12 miles from me. If it was not for the current situation, I would run over and check it out.

Even being what it is, and it looks authentic, I think the asking price is a bit on the high side in today’s market.

If it don’t sell, and it’s still on the market when this all subsides a bit, I may head over a take a look. If I do, I’ll post photos here.

If I can talk them down to a reasonable price, you’ll see a bunch of detailed photos. Doubt they’ll do that. Tried it before and they were pretty unmovable on pricing.

Been in the store before. It’s like a high end consignment shop for when the kids put Mom and pop in the home, or when someone who is pretty well-to-do passes. They probaly picked it up for 250.00 when someone passed and the kids put the contents of the home up on a estate sale.

Apr 6, 2020 - 7:25:04 PM
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12813 posts since 10/30/2008

Here's a slightly similar banjo, a Florentine with hearts & flowers and checkerboard. From Greg Earnest's old site. This banjo has an FON in the 9600 range, so it's not a late floor sweep, I don't think.

earnestbanjo.com/gibson_banjo_...654-1.htm

The banjo at the head of this thread is called a Bella Voce only because of the engraved tailpiece. It's more like the Florentine I mentioned.

However, neither the tension hoop nor the tone ring show any engraving. That is EXTREMELY unusual. There was no cataloged Gibson model with a gold plated tension hoop with NO engraving (invoking Gibson rule here).

It's an odd duck for sure. Not worth the asking price.

Apr 7, 2020 - 6:12:26 AM
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1352 posts since 10/5/2006

There are photos on my homepage of a similar assemblage of parts.
It was assembled in 1940 by Gibson and sold as a "TB-AA Special 9654-7".

https://www.banjohangout.org/myhangout/photos.asp?id=14870&albumid=4705

Apr 7, 2020 - 6:58:06 AM

3396 posts since 3/28/2008

What else can you tell us about the one in your post, Frank?

Apr 7, 2020 - 10:22:40 AM
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1352 posts since 10/5/2006

quote:
Originally posted by Ira Gitlin

What else can you tell us about the one in your post, Frank?


Not much...........

9654-7 TB-AA Special

Gibson Executive Julius Bellson is believed to have assembled the instrument from leftover parts in 1940. In June 1940 it was shipped as a TB-AA Special to Julius’ brother at Louis Bellson Music. Louis Bellson Sr was the father of noted jazz drummer Louis Bellson, Jr who was 15 years old when his father received this banjo.
The Banjo remained unsold and was returned to Gibson.

It shipped again on October 3, 1940 to Davitt & Hanser, musical wholesalers in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Davitt and Hanser wholesaled it to Ed Popp, Popp’s Music Store, 132 E 3rd, Dayton Ohio.

The banjo did not sell and Ed Popp played it as his personal instrument until his death in 1950, when it passed to his son Wilbur Popp and subsequently to his grandson Don Popp.

On July 12, 2010, the banjo was purchased from Don Popp, Beavercreek, Ohio.

9654-7 is best described as a Florentine style pot with an All-American style TB neck finished in matching White Holly.

The rim is stamped 9654-7 and is fitted with a first generation diecast one-piece flange that is gold-plated and Florentine engraved.

The 40-hole raised head tonering is gold plated and Bella Voce engraved.

The stretcher band is grooved brass E2 with Style 5 engraving using gold-plated steel flat hooks.

The tailpiece is Bella Voce engraved Grover 2-hump clamshell.
The armrest is two-piece, gold, Granada engraved.

The coordinator rods are gold plated late thirties style without the longnut.

The resonator is Florentine with ‘Christmas tree’ colored and white celluloid binding. The number 9654-7 appears penciled in the two proper locations in the correct hand.

A “Popp’s Music Store and Studios, 132 E 3rd, Dayton Ohio” label is affixed within.

The All American style tenor neck has the correct white/black binding and pyralin fingerboard with All- American etched scenes as position markers. These etchings are in excellent condition although fretwear is significant. The neck is fitted with a pearl nut and gold plated 2-band 4:1 Grover tuning machines with ivoroid buttons and no engraving.  The neck heel has the penciled number 9748-2.

Except for head and strings, the banjo is the same as it was when received by Ed Popp in 1940.  It resides now at the American Banjo Museum, Oklahoma City.
It was the last prewar "All American".

Edited by - Oldtwanger on 04/07/2020 10:29:09

Apr 7, 2020 - 10:45:31 AM
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1352 posts since 10/5/2006

quote:
Originally posted by Ira Gitlin

What else can you tell us about the one in your post, Frank?


Here is a copy of a list of instruments and dates, purpose unknown - possibly dealer consignments, received from a Gibson Rep by Tom Morgan about 1965.
Note the inclusion of TB-AASpec 9654-7 June 1940, and RB-75 752-4, June 1938.  I hunted for that RB-75 for years until Bob Rodgers found it and subsequently sold it to JD.  When JD showed it to me I almost messed my underwear.....


Apr 7, 2020 - 11:39 AM

3374 posts since 4/27/2004

quote:

RB-75 752-4, June 1938.  I hunted for that RB-75 for years until Bob Rodgers found it and subsequently sold it to JD.  When JD showed it to me I almost messed my underwear.....

In 1987 I was offered to even trade my Stelling Golden Cross for a Gibson RB-75 with FON 752-5. At the time, I knew virtually nothing about old Gibson banjos and I didn't go through with the trade. Since then, our friend Bob Rodgers has told me that 752-5 was not an actual Gibson, but a banjo somebody had built as a replica of a prewar RB-75. 

Apr 7, 2020 - 1:24:14 PM

65 posts since 10/15/2010

From what I understand, the banjo boom was pretty much over by the late 1930's. Certainly the demand for high-end banjos. What business wouldn't throw together left over parts laying around and try to sell them? I'm sure Gibson never thought that 70 years later people would be scrutinizing every detail of a Florentine, All-American or Bella Voce, looking for inconsistencies in engraving, gold plating and even what tone ring was installed. Gibson just wanted to get rid of them and make the instrument that was really selling, the newly amplified guitar.

Apr 7, 2020 - 4:36:46 PM
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stanger

USA

7309 posts since 9/29/2004

The floor sweep thing with Gibson banjos is actually fairly complicated.

Since all the models above grade 5 were custom-made and custom-ordered, anyone who wanted a mixture of cosmetics on Gibson's top range if they were willing to pay for it. A usual signal that a banjo was one of these is the addition of the word 'Special' in the serial number.

However, 'Custom Made' usually meant custom made in 12-piece batches. Very few banjos were totally custom, a one-off singular piece. Those that were were still based on the catalog's custom designs, and most of the singular customs featured something that replaced an element in the catalog description without adding to them.
A player's name and/or initials is a good example. If initials cover the peghead face, they were often less handwork than the standard inlay patterns that were not used. But even so, the custom order brought in more money than the standard pattern would have.

Not all of Gibson's top-range customs were equally popular, either. The All-American demanded a lot of handwork, but it was never as popular as the Florentine, and the Florentine was never as popular as the TB-6. The Bella Voce was pretty short-lived as a model, as it was replaced by the Florentine. The TB-6 was the least expensive of them, but not by very much.

But Gibson did a lot of floor sweeping as well after the tenor banjo faded in popularity. The company always seemed to have a lot of spare parts on hand to put a fancy banjo together.

The banjo might not look like anything in a catalog, but it was all-Gibson and fancy. The customers of the time apparently weren't as picky on the looks back then as they may be now. During all the Depression years, Gibson made ordering a custom very easy and much cheaper than it had been in the past. For and added $50.00, anyone could get a custom-made instrument. 

When a floorsweep banjo is made entirely of top-grade parts that don't follow the catalog description, that's a custom banjo. Gibson could legitmately claim a buyer was getting $300 worth of custom additions for only $50 as well as being able to say that the banjo was one of a kind. The customer was happy, and Gibson got rid of some costly parts that had been gathering dust for years.

The marketing strategy of making a custom for only a $50 surcharge was very smart. The customer also had to pay the list price for the standard model the custom was based on.  Most of the time, Gibson made some extra money on a standard model that would have been sold anyway, but once in a while, the customer got a real bargain for the money. Either way, Gibson sold an instrument. Almost always, a high-end instrument. 

regards,

stanger

Edited by - stanger on 04/07/2020 17:00:00

Apr 7, 2020 - 8:28:52 PM

12813 posts since 10/30/2008

Frank, the link I posted to Greg Earnest's site for a "sort of" Florentine style 6 was FON 9654-1!!

Edited by - The Old Timer on 04/07/2020 20:29:34

Apr 8, 2020 - 6:05:59 AM

1352 posts since 10/5/2006

quote:
Originally posted by The Old Timer

Frank, the link I posted to Greg Earnest's site for a "sort of" Florentine style 6 was FON 9654-1!!

 


I did notice that.  It sure was an interesting FON lot.
Also, In December of 1995 I encountered a banjo at Mandolin Brothers in New York that was listed as a TB-Florentine. It had rim number 9137-1 and a Florentine resonator with number 9654-7 (duplicate of the AA-Spec above), and a style 6 checkerboard neck with H&F pearl in peghead. It was a two-piece flange rim with a flathead 20-hole tonering with no engraving.

Apr 8, 2020 - 6:49:19 AM

1231 posts since 7/12/2004

It sounds like Gibson built lots of checkerboard 6 necks they couldn't sell!

Apr 8, 2020 - 9:09:10 AM

12813 posts since 10/30/2008

Here's another puzzler from Greg Earnest's site, a no FON nickel/chrome (not gold) plated Florentine/6. Very little engraving, and what is there is unique or maybe reminiscent of an RB 18. I'm willing to go with the "floor sweep" theory here, for sure.

earnestbanjo.com/gibson_banjo_...ugate.htm

Edited by - The Old Timer on 04/08/2020 09:10:16

Apr 8, 2020 - 11:27:27 AM

stanger

USA

7309 posts since 9/29/2004

quote:
Originally posted by waystation

It sounds like Gibson built lots of checkerboard 6 necks they couldn't sell!


Could be. Or it's possible the checkerboard was so popular many more were made. Quite a few competitors offered gold sparkle, but only Gibson had the checkerboard. 

Around 2011, I saw a TB-6 that was all stock except for the peghead overlay, which was similar to the banjo in this discussion; white pearloid with the rhinestone ice cream cone. The binding on that one was gold sparkle. There was a 6 here in town for many years that eventually got a replacement 5-string neck. That banjo had both bindings, depending on which neck was on it!

regards,

stanger

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