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Prewar Gibson Banjo Pick Guard (Finger Rest)

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Apr 2, 2022 - 10:31:14 AM
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343 posts since 8/11/2007

I just received this original ivoroid pick guard from a friend in Philadelphia. He told me it came off of a Gibson trapdoor tenor, and that he'd had the guard since the 1960s. Looks like a factory Gibson pick guard -- no?

Looks good and works well on this 1940s (Gretsch) Bacon "Belmont."


 

Apr 2, 2022 - 11:21:32 AM
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914 posts since 5/31/2004

Yes, a trapdoor era finger rest. It looks like it has the correct attachment hardware as well.

Apr 2, 2022 - 12:27:34 PM

5895 posts since 12/20/2005

Mind if I ask what these are going for these days ?

Apr 2, 2022 - 12:55:26 PM

9660 posts since 8/28/2013

If your friend gives you the trapdoor, I'd buy it from you.

I doubt if he has one, though. Those doors don't grow wild like crabgrass, and I've yet to find one that wasn't either attahed to a banjo or badly broken and repaired.

Apr 2, 2022 - 3:19:12 PM

rcc56

USA

4241 posts since 2/20/2016

I will confirm that to be identical to the pickguards used on the Gibson trap door banjos.

George, you could make your own trap door. Choose your wood-- I believe that both maple and birch were used, depending on the model and what was going on at the factory that week. If it's Gibson brown, you can get a good color match with old fashioned brown aniline dye, available from any violin supply house. Or if it's a sunburst, you would need red, yellow and/or amber, and brown anilines and practice on a test board. A few coats of good spirit varnish or French polished shellac, and you're in business. You would have to make your own mounting/opening/closing bracket, but that's do-able. A suitable spring and hinge would be the hardest thing to find, but it doesn't have to match the original design as long as you can find something that will work.  If you decide to take on the job, I can trace a pattern for you.

Edited by - rcc56 on 04/02/2022 15:23:53

Apr 2, 2022 - 5:23:38 PM

9660 posts since 8/28/2013

quote:
Originally posted by rcc56

I will confirm that to be identical to the pickguards used on the Gibson trap door banjos.

George, you could make your own trap door. Choose your wood-- I believe that both maple and birch were used, depending on the model and what was going on at the factory that week. If it's Gibson brown, you can get a good color match with old fashioned brown aniline dye, available from any violin supply house. Or if it's a sunburst, you would need red, yellow and/or amber, and brown anilines and practice on a test board. A few coats of good spirit varnish or French polished shellac, and you're in business. You would have to make your own mounting/opening/closing bracket, but that's do-able. A suitable spring and hinge would be the hardest thing to find, but it doesn't have to match the original design as long as you can find something that will work.  If you decide to take on the job, I can trace a pattern for you.


I actually have the door, but the latch is missing and the spring hinges are broken. I can probably repair the hinges, but the latch looks to be virtually impossible to find and install through the old hole. It's a tricky little device, and was obviously installed with some sort of specialized press or other tool. I know this because I once had a trapdoor tenor with a complete door(should have just used that one for my PB 3) 

I appreciate your advice, particularly about the finish. The finish is another problem with my broken door. If I ever locate what I need, it may need to have some buckle rash taken care of. I absolutely detest buckle rash, and don't give one decent crap about "patina," or as J.B. Nethercutt called it "The crud of age." I have no intention of selling my old PB, so I don't csre if a potential buyer doesn't like a refinished trapdoor.

Apr 2, 2022 - 9:08:01 PM

1859 posts since 5/19/2018

Clifton, you are correct. Would be a factory original option on 1920’s Gibson banjos. Nice heavy ivoroid.

Later on, Gibson sourced a few different color banjo pick guards that I come across over the years.

It seems in the mid 1920’s, Gibson also used ivoroid pickguards, but with a different flat stamped metal attachments as opposed to the earlier heavy wire as used on the trap doors. I think these were sourced via Grover. The one I have came off of a 1925 Style 4 Mastertone.

Later on, in the late 20’s and into the early/late 30’s, you could get these in a type of silverish MOTS pearloid. You can see an example of this on Wade Wards Style 11 banjo. A RB-00 I have came with one of these on it.

At the same time point, they also came in a tortoise shell celluloid. You can see an example of this type on the Bill Worrell RB-75. Every single one of these tortoise shell types that I have seen or handled first hand were partly gassed off and crumbly. Though I have heard that some seemed to have been made with different celluloid mixtures and don’t rot. Which may be the case with the BW RB-75.

Neat attachments on banjos. Really hard to find in any kind of good condition. I don’t use the one on my Style 4 as it seemed to get in my way, but the one on the 00 stays on as it’s not an issue with my playing. Both are exactly the same size, so I can’t figure what is different or why one gets in the way and one other does not.

Apr 3, 2022 - 7:24:55 AM

9660 posts since 8/28/2013

Gibson used a slightly smaller version of this pick guard on the trapdoor MBs.

Alvin, ther is some adjutment room on these guards' mounting, both side to side and up and down, Perhaps you can move your Style 4 around so it doesn't get in the way.

Once in a while, my Pb trapdoor's guard shfts a little, and I have to play around with it to rediscover the "sweet spot."

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