Banjo Hangout Logo
Banjo Hangout Logo

Premier Sponsors

Banjo Lovers Online

Help: I need help placing the year of this Gibson Mastertone

Nov 25, 2021 - 10:02:09 PM



8 posts since 10/22/2014

I bought a new electric banjo for Coall. I love it, but that is a post for another topic. I have a Gibson Mastertone, or at least that is what I think it is. I bought the banjo in about the mid '90's and then stopped playing as I had two boys and 'didn't have the time'. Now I'm picking it back up, I don't feel I need two banjos.

I am trying to place value on this mastertone. I attach the pictures, the thing that worries me about it is that it doesn't have a serial number on it. Can someone help me determine what this banjo is, and what it is worth? Or if it is even real? I paid about $1,300 for it in 1993-1997. Can't recall when I bought it.

Thanks so much, pictures are attached. It says it was made in Kalamazoo, which means if it is real it would be pre 1980's. The toner ring is very heavy, and it seems well made.

Edited by - Bill Rogers on 11/26/2021 00:23:55

Nov 26, 2021 - 2:58:40 AM

4677 posts since 11/20/2004

My guess would be a copy, not an original, and value would be about what you paid. If you can move your pictures to this page, it will make viewing much easier.

Nov 26, 2021 - 5:57:13 AM



8 posts since 10/22/2014

thanks, i think i uploaded them. can you see the photos?

Nov 26, 2021 - 5:58:13 AM



8 posts since 10/22/2014

I am hoping to get someone that can definitely tell me what is going on with this banjo. Thanks!

Nov 26, 2021 - 6:21:24 AM
Players Union Member



5635 posts since 10/12/2009

Well....the gold, oval "Gibson" label on the inside of the rim is a reproduction, so I would venture that the entire banjo is most likely non-Gibson....what's known as a "parts" banjo, built to look like a Gibson Mastertone.

If all the parts are high quality, (hard to determine from photos) it is probably a fine-sounding, good playing instrument. From the photos, it appears to be very well built.

Where did you buy it? Private individual, dealer, music store?

Also, out of curiosity, you say you bought an "electric banjo for Coall". What is Coall?

Nov 26, 2021 - 6:35:03 AM



8 posts since 10/22/2014

I bought it off of an individual, but it was in the 90's. No way I could say where or from whom. If I were to sell this, how can I list it? As a Gibson parts banjo? What can I say about it? That it's well made, but a fake? I bought it when I was quite young, and obviously not so knowledgeable thinking it was a mastertone.

Coall is a brilliant up and coming music instrument company out of Slovakia. I purchased a banjo like this, which suits my playing a bit more (not that I am anywhere near good as Tomas in this video).

Check them out, speak with Miroslav. Really great people and excellent builders.

Nov 26, 2021 - 6:50:55 AM
like this

3949 posts since 3/28/2008

You could list it as something like "Gibson-style 5-string banjo", and give all the relevant details in the description.

Nov 26, 2021 - 6:56:17 AM



8 posts since 10/22/2014

you are 100% sure it is not real? any chance it could be a '70s era banjo from Gibson?

Nov 26, 2021 - 7:28:03 AM
likes this

14320 posts since 10/30/2008

The underside of the flange is the biggest red flag. It's an "after market" flange. Not used by Gibson.

The gold decal has the common red flag in that the letters "I" in the second and third lines of text are not perfectly aligned one above the other.

The font of the word "MASTERTONE" is not one used by Gibson.

There are other issues that can be spotted but these 3 are enough.

But, depending on how it looks, feels and sounds, it could be a very fine intermediate bluegrass banjo for someone. If it's all in great shape, well put together with no playability issues needing correction, it's probably worth $1500. Presuming it has a good hard case also.

A 1970s Gibson banjo has a quite different construction from this banjo.

If you list it for sale, include a good photo of the back of the resonator too.

Nov 26, 2021 - 7:41:17 AM



8 posts since 10/22/2014

OK - thanks. I appreciate this, it sounds like you know what you're talking about.

Nov 26, 2021 - 1:17:40 PM

12702 posts since 1/15/2005

Originally posted by gwardman

OK - thanks. I appreciate this, it sounds like you know what you're talking about.

I agree with everything Dick said, but in addition the banjo that this one was copied from (as per the style of label) is not a banjo from the 60's, 70's , 80's, etc. although the banjos in some of those decades were copying banjos from the early pre-war years.  If the label was correct, the banjo would have been made from the middle/late 20's until the early 40's and this banjo is clearly not from that era.  It would have also had a serial number (FON) stamped in the rim.  I also agree with Dick on the value, depending on it is nice as it looks in the photos.

Hangout Network Help

View All Topics  |  View Categories