I am wanting to buy a Gibson RB 170. The information I have on this model is conflicting. Does anyone know an accurate source for the history, dating information and units manufactured? Thank you in advance for your input. Stephen
I have one listed in the classifieds.
This site has buttons along the left that give post war production numbers and serial numbers.
The other thing to know is that the early years had a brown stained 3/4" thick, 3 ply rim, with a smaller brass hoop that gave an archtop appearance, while later years went to a very dark, nearly black stained 5/8" thick, multi-ply rim with a regular 11" brass hoop that gives a flathead appearance. The thick rimmed ones go through about 1963.
The thick rimmed ones are harder to find and seem to be more highly regarded here on the hangout. Are they truly better? I couldn't say. I've never had a thick rimmed one in my hands. I think they are harder to find because many of those thick rims have been taken and modified to add tone rings and flanges and make bluegrass banjos out of them. They seem to bring more $$ when you can find one.
Steve Martin is probably the player most famous for having an RB-170 (thick rim). It was his main banjo for many years. Still has it as far as I know, but now is more often pictured with super fancy custom made Deerings. I guess he can afford it.
Edited by - Eric A on 07/06/2022 05:08:27
Below is a link to a web site that provides pdf files of a large number of Gibson catalogs. The web site includes catalogs from the Fifties and Sixties when the "folk music scare" was at its peak. These catalogs have some descriptive information on the "RB-170 5-String Folk Banjo" that may be helpful to you.
Thank you for the catalog references. I only found the RB170 listed in the 1962 catalog. Best regards. Steve
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