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Gibson Limited Edition / Small run of special "Granadas."

Dec 15, 2020 - 6:09:59 PM

GStump

USA

402 posts since 9/12/2006

Does anyone out there in banjo land remember, what was, as I remember, a very small batch, or run - of a "special edition Granada" banjo from the mid' 90's? An acquaintance of mine called me a few days ago with the story that an older fellow from his neighborhood, was thinking about selling said banjo. So we discussed it a bit and I advised him that the banjo could be anything from a "parts banjo" to something very rare and nice indeed. To say for sure, I would have to lay eyes and hands on the banjo, OR might be able to give him at least a ballpark idea of value, and what the banjo actually was, if he could provide me some VERY good pictures. So he sent me about 8 pictures of the banjo. The gentleman who owns it said he bought it new, it supposedly came out of the custom shop. Basically what the banjo appeared to be was a Granada with NO engraving on the tension hoop and tailpiece; there IS NO armrest! The sticker says Nashville and does appear to be a genuine sticker. The serial number is 1994 - XX. One piece flange. This is strange, but the tailpiece is obviously like those used in the 70's Norlin era; 4 hump, gold plated, NO cut at the front part of the tailpiece, (the "bar" the strings go under is straight across) I suspect the tailpiece has been replaced. I do think otherwise the banjo is probably fine in all regards, and most likely original.... OR not.... Does anyone else remember a special edition Granada from that approx time period? I am inclined to say that "I do in fact remember this," but simply can't say for sure...

Dec 15, 2020 - 8:17:02 PM
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13720 posts since 10/30/2008

I remember a DIFFERENT special run of Granadas in the early 1990s, not like you describe. Larry Perkins and Greg Rich cooperated on making a run of 5 to mimic as closely as possible the 9584 litter (Earl's, Sonny's, JD has one, etc).

Larry advertised these ONCE in Bluegrass Unlimited. By the time I got in touch with him they were all sold.

They were supposed to look like Earl's and Sonny's banjos as they came from the factory -- however they had Presto tailpieces. Tension hoops were engraved. They were copper flashed before gold plating.

The numbers in the rim are all 9584-11, 12, 13, 14, 15.

I wish I knew where they all are.  I know of one of them.

Edited by - The Old Timer on 12/15/2020 20:18:09

Dec 16, 2020 - 2:14:58 AM

1592 posts since 4/13/2017

I googled "limited edition granada banjo" and run across a series of limited edition granadas from the 2000s. the gold plating had a very distressed look. There were only 20 of those made, apparently.

Dec 16, 2020 - 3:13:22 AM

105 posts since 9/27/2014

I recall the Granada run that Dick described had a veneer on the back of the peg head to cover the ears which would be in keeping with the originals.

Didn’t Janet Davis have a special order of 20 copper flashed Granada models that she sold at her store?

Dec 16, 2020 - 5:38:28 AM

2039 posts since 1/4/2009

Post the pictures please

Dec 16, 2020 - 5:58:51 AM
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1377 posts since 11/29/2004

During 94 there was a situation where a batch of resonators came from a different supplier with a 3/32" veneer on the sidewall. The normal sidewall face veneer was 1/8". As they went thru binding. scraping and finishing the veneers were damaged due to being so thin.


It was decided that a run of instruments be created, using various inlay patterns, gold hardware no engraving, nos tailpieces from RB 800's, and using various standard finishes.  These were to be offered by the salesmen to give special deals to dealers. (The majority of the sidewalls were shaded very dark near the binding so as to cover the veneer edge)

They are listed in Nick's assembly records as a "Custom Mastertone" with number inside being 1994-XXX. I guess it could be described as a modern day deluxe version of the old RB 75s. After that batch of resonators were used up the model disappeared.

Edited by - DHutchens on 12/16/2020 06:05:36

Dec 16, 2020 - 7:09:42 AM
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1287 posts since 3/24/2006

quote:
Originally posted by Benjamin Pedigo

I recall the Granada run that Dick described had a veneer on the back of the peg head to cover the ears which would be in keeping with the originals.

Didn’t Janet Davis have a special order of 20 copper flashed Granada models that she sold at her store?


Well......sorta. The banjos that you mentioned were "VIntage Granadas" and not what the original poster was inquiring about. The Vintage model was originally intended to be a run of twenty five (25) and were going to be an exclusive to JDMC. After 16 exclusives were sold thru JDMC, Gibson opened up the sales to all dealers. To my knowledge there ended up being sixty one (61) total Vintage Granadas made.

Robby 

Dec 16, 2020 - 7:17:15 AM

34 posts since 6/6/2015

Gregg,

The first part of your post sounds exactly like my situation and could have been written by me. I too ran across a gentleman that was retiring and moving to Florida. I bought a couple of fiddles from him at his estate auction. When discussing the history of the instruments he mentioned he had a Gibson banjo. I asked why he didn't include the banjo in the auction and he told me that he didn't believe the banjo would bring what it was worth. I asked about seeing the banjo and was told it was at his son's house. He said that he would let me look at it sometime. I kept in touch with him, calling about every month. The man told told me that when he came back to visit his son he would let me see the banjo. I asked him if he remembered what the banjo was and he told me it was a 1991 Gibson Granada. The man told me that he bought the banjo new at Mandolin Bros. in 1992. The prior owner told me that Mandolin Bros. had two of the banjos, and that there were only ten made. The prior owner looked at both the banjos and selected the one he wanted. The person he was dealing with suggested that the buyer just have the banjo shipped to him to avoid the high NY taxes. This was agreeable to him, so he just had the banjo shipped. When the banjo arrived, it was not the one he had selected at the store. He consulted with some people he knew that told him not to return the banjo. The price he told me he paid was well above what I believed the prices to have been for a Granada at that time. I started checking with the knowledgeable people on this site, Claudia Coleman was the first. I spoke with the owner every month until he told me he was coming back to visit with his son. We made arrangements to meet at his son's home to look at the banjo. When he opened the case I was disappointed to see the gold plating on this banjo had no engraving. I asked if we could remove the resonator, and he did. The number inside the rim began with 1994. I told him that I didn't believe it was a 1991 Granada, and thus my search began. I was referred to Greg Rich. Greg asked me to send pictures of the banjo which I did. I was referred to Doug Hutchins, who filled in the blanks. I wound up purchasing the banjo from the previous owner, and later received the information he told me he had. The banjo has a Gibson Custom Shop sticker on the back of the peghead. It was advertised as a Gibson Custom Shop Granada by Mandolin Bros. I have the copy of the Mandolin Bros. flyer advertising the banjos from 1994. Mandolin Bros. advertised the banjo as a new limited edition of ten only, "Custom Mastertone Banjos". The banjos are listed as; "Flying Eagle Gold Custom" and "Hearts and Flowers Gold Custom". The price listed in the brochure was 2892 cash and 2982 credit. There is more information listed in the advertisement if the owner wants to contact me. Doug Hutchins provided more information to me than what was in his reply on this thread.  I would be happy to provide this information to the owner of the banjo if requested. My thanks, as I have previously mentioned, to Claudia Coleman, Greg Rich, and Doug Hutchins for their invaluable assistance. What a great source of the history they are.

Edited by - Realbluegrassfan on 12/16/2020 07:34:34

Dec 16, 2020 - 7:48:23 AM

105 posts since 9/27/2014

Bobby- did Gibson do other copper flashed gold plated models?

Dec 16, 2020 - 7:51:06 AM

13720 posts since 10/30/2008

Another Gibson oddball tracked down!! Excellent!!

Edited by - The Old Timer on 12/16/2020 07:51:34

Dec 16, 2020 - 10:30:07 AM

1287 posts since 3/24/2006

quote:
Originally posted by Benjamin Pedigo

Bobby- did Gibson do other copper flashed gold plated models?


Yes, the Blackjack model. The Vintage Granada and the Blackjack shared the same basic pot assembly........both copper flashed.

Robby 

Dec 16, 2020 - 11:45:40 AM

105 posts since 9/27/2014

Thank you Robby- I remember that now. I’m glad you contribute to this site.

Dec 16, 2020 - 12:59:30 PM

13720 posts since 10/30/2008

Ben (and Robby), Gibson also copper flashed the 5 prototype pieces (I was told there were 5) of the Mack Crow gold RB 75s that fizzled out. Much better job of copper flash than the Blackjacks IMHO.

Dec 16, 2020 - 1:17:49 PM

GStump

USA

402 posts since 9/12/2006

Well I sure do appreciate everyone who chimed in on this topic. So as I understand it, the tailpiece may very well be original to the banjo. Forgive me for saying too much, but certainly, at least in my humble opinion, the banjo in question that I am discussing, would NOT be worth as much as the standard granada of the day. OK... just my thoughts.... so the banjo is a granada for all practical purposes, and just has no engraving. It's obvious that the engraving would push the value of the banjo upward. That's a no brainer. I have been accused a time or two of actually having no brain.... or not using the one I do have!! Having said all that - the banjo is probably, no doubt a very decent instrument, and the owner should consider it one. This topic may be revisited in the near future. At first the owner thought he might be interested in selling - and he was certain the banjo was all original, as he bought it new. (still doesn't answer the question as to where the armrest got off to.... ) but he has since changed his mind about selling it. I may get the opportunity to have a look at it w/in the next several days or so. I shall try to get a bit more info on it if possible, but I do believe we have pretty well nailed down what the instrument is! Thanks!!

Dec 16, 2020 - 2:29:11 PM

105 posts since 9/27/2014

Dick and Robby- there must be some challenges to plating the OPFs and corresponding tension hoop- especially gold ? It seems like gold plating on the 2 piece flange banjos holds up much better. I apologize for getting off topic on this - I wish I could see some photos of one of these banjos that Gregg and Bill are describing.

Dec 16, 2020 - 6:01:53 PM

13720 posts since 10/30/2008

Ben, Larry Perkins told me that when the run of "sisters" to Earl/Sonny's banjo were made, the company that did the copper flash for them said they would never do it again. I wouldn't be surprised if it's exactly because of trying to cover that pot metal one piece flange.

Dec 17, 2020 - 6:56:29 AM

3456 posts since 4/27/2004

Jim Mills told me that engravers preferred brass over the pot metal for engraving. That is why most of the very fancy, engraved prewar Gibson banjos had metal parts made of brass. I assume that the pot metal is much softer than the brass, thus making it harder to engrave. It might be that the copper flashing/plating is more difficult on pot metal as well.

Dec 17, 2020 - 8:35:13 PM

GStump

USA

402 posts since 9/12/2006

If I can get a chance soon to see and get a few pics of this banjo, I'll try to post a few of them here. I do have a few pictures that my buddy, who knows the owner of the banjo he brought to my attention, sent my by text message. Unfortunately I am not sure how to convert them to jpegs or whatever, so save to my computer in some way, and then post them here. If I can figure out a way to do that, I shall indeed post a few pics of the banjo here. Thanks for all the replies folks!

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