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Aug 16, 2022 - 7:12:42 AM
5 posts since 7/30/2022

I see an old dissembled Gibson banjo is up for auction on the Shop Goodwill website. Looks like it has most of the parts except top and resonator. Not having ever done it before, and being a relative newby I was wondering about how much effort/cost would be required to build a working banjo from this, maybe one good for open back old time playing. Or is this a crazy idea?

Thanks

Aug 16, 2022 - 7:15:58 AM

509 posts since 4/14/2014

Have a link?

Aug 16, 2022 - 7:32:51 AM

2489 posts since 2/4/2013

shopgoodwill.com/item/149832928

Is that a tubaphone? Would a that tone ring fit that rim as it is cut?

Aug 16, 2022 - 7:42:10 AM
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KCJones

USA

1778 posts since 8/30/2012

This is a good question, but common sense dictates that you generally don't advertise this type of thing on a forum of enthusiasts. Any chance at getting a good deal or economically feasible restoration project is gone now that you've advertised it here.

One word of caution when buying instruments on ShopGoodwill: They don't put any type of effort into their shipment packaging, and take no real measures to protect the instrument being shipped. So the chances of receiving a damaged product are significantly higher than other retailers. They also have a strict 'No Returns' policy, so once you buy something you're stuck with it regardless of the condition it arrives in. 

Edited by - KCJones on 08/16/2022 07:44:30

Aug 16, 2022 - 7:49:44 AM
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Eric A

USA

1602 posts since 10/15/2019

Not a tubaphone. Early 20's Gibson something. Someone on here will know.

I have no skills, so I'd be afraid of getting into a money pit.

Aug 16, 2022 - 8:51:13 AM
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Players Union Member

RioStat

USA

5881 posts since 10/12/2009

quote:
Originally posted by GrahamHawker

shopgoodwill.com/item/149832928

Is that a tubaphone? Would a that tone ring fit that rim as it is cut?


Not a Tubaphone, it's a predecessor to the Gibson ball-bearing tone ring.

Also.....it would take me about 45 minutes to put that thing back together, string it up, and be picking it, providing all the parts are correct, present, and accounted for

Aug 16, 2022 - 8:59:07 AM

10009 posts since 8/28/2013

Looks like an early 1920's RB4, mostly complete (hard to tell with hooks, nuts, tailpiece parts, etc. all jumbled together. The tailpiece cover doesn't look original, but that could also be a bad photo., and the tuners may be replacements. (the entire neck may be new--I've yet to see one of these with a hole in the heel: maybe a truss rod which these didn't have. Ones I've seen used an ebony fretboard, not rosewood).

10 1/2 inch head. Not a Tubaphone (some early Gibsons used a hollow tone tube,' and this pot has one.

All in all, I'd guess it would make a decent banjo, although not completely oroginal. Due to the small pot, the odd "tone tube" and probably other construction ideas, these do not make ideal bluegrass instruments, though.

Right now, the price is okay, but I don't expect it to stay that way.

Aug 16, 2022 - 9:35:11 AM
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2460 posts since 9/25/2006

I like that old jo--big ball bearing Gibson fan here but they made better banjos for OT music than this one. Agreed that it could be "restored" in 45 mins. I doubt the originality of the neck however. What are those numbers on the inside of the neck? Also, I don't think the fingerboards were that thick. Also the color seems a bit off but I could be entirely wrong.

Aug 16, 2022 - 10:18:36 AM

4590 posts since 5/29/2011

It would make a decent Old-Time banjo if someone wanted to put it together but as mentioned earlier, there are better banjos for Old-Time music. If it could be had for its current price it would be a reasonably good deal, but I don't see it staying there for another day and a half.
One thing I notice is that the neck heel seems to be cut wrong for this rim. It looks like it has a cut for a one-piece flange. The hole in the heel looks like someone was monkeying around with it trying to fit it to the pot and couldn't figure out how. The number stamped in the heel doesn't look like anything I have ever seen on a Gibson. The red finish on the rim bead and the neck heel doesn't look original either.
Some of the parts may be mismatched but this banjo is not going to fetch the price of a prewar Mastertone anyway. Mismatched parts on a hundred-year-old banjo is nothing out of the ordinary.

Edited by - Culloden on 08/16/2022 10:23:25

Aug 16, 2022 - 10:41:08 AM
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5 posts since 7/30/2022

Thanks everyone - really appreciate the information.

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Aug 16, 2022 - 11:28:42 AM
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10009 posts since 8/28/2013

Looked again. The neck is a repro, not cut right for this rim, wrong fingerboard wood'

In my opinion, this is very restorable, but not restorable to original condition. Also, there are no bearing for the tone tube to rest upon. If this had a trap door, I might bid. I am looking for a door for a PB 3 from the same period.

Aug 16, 2022 - 11:34:33 AM
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3072 posts since 4/7/2010

No one has noticed the several flags that indicate this instrument has a conversion neck. The first thing I noticed was that this era of Gibson banjos usually had two on a plate guitar style tuners. This neck has banjo tuners. Unfortunately the knobs of the 2nd and 3rd strings with straight through banjo tuners on a moccasin peghead usually collide, or come close. The other detail is IG+B stamped in the tension hoop cut out area of the neck. That stands for Intermountain Guitar and Banjo. a well known vintage shop formerly of Salt Lake City, Utah.

Hopefully my observations help potential bidders offer an appropriate price.

Bob Smakula

Aug 16, 2022 - 11:42:08 AM
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1969 posts since 5/19/2018
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This banjo is most likely an old Gibson pot matched to a later conversion neck made by Leo at Inter Mountain Guitar and banjo. From what I can see, it has some aspects of a style 4 from 1924 or so.

For some reason it was taken apart and it looks like a number of the parts were lost. Definitely a project. Current price seems fair. I would not go a dime over 500 as is as one can get one of the pre 1925 conversions, all together in top playing condition from a reputable dealer in great shape for around 1500 or so.

I do like these pre- Mastertone models for some styles of playing. Nice instruments to get your inner Buell Kazee on if you so desire. Nice over all players when set up,right for traditional styles, though it seems most old time players pass these over.

Aug 16, 2022 - 12:30:33 PM

12346 posts since 10/27/2006

Yes, it's a parts banjo, possibly on a 12" 1918–21 TB pot, with a '23–24 RB-4 copy neck. IGB could have used the original inlays.

The big clue for me: No ball bearings, eliminating a Style 3 conversion. No balls and springs means it's not a conversion from a 4 or 5.

The tailpiece cover may or may not be original but the tailpiece appears to be and the bracket, what of it I can see, appears to be intact. Many Waverly 'piece covers can be made to fit. Minor issue. 

My '23–24 RB 3 had friction pegs like Buell Kazee's. There's a YouTube of him showing us how to tune one up (see pt 2 below). Speaking of the good preacher, a 10 1/2" RB3 or 4 is a great old time banjo.

Buell Kazee pt 1  Buell Kazee pt 2

Red flag alert:

A 12" conversion? You pays your money and takes your chances. If IGB did it right, the bridge should go in the right location but, if they copied a neck without taking that into account, it will be closer to center than most of us would consider ideal. This has 22 frets clear—so did the originals with a 2 fret extension over the 10.5" pot. That makes me think the bridge will be near the center when done.

I know that, if I still played, I'd have a bid in but it wouldn't be more than $8oo.

Aug 16, 2022 - 12:33:10 PM
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rcc56

USA

4425 posts since 2/20/2016

I'm glad Bob S. contributed about the neck. I've known about Intermountain for ages, and know that they've made hundreds, perhaps thousands of necks for the old banjos, but for some reason didn't make the connection with the IG & B stamp.

I suspect Mike is right that this neck was probably originally intended for an early 10 1/2" Gibson rim.  The heel cap radius is a little tight for this rim, and Intermountain generally did pretty clean work.  Since early style 4's were built with both 10 1/2" and 12" rims, I think Mike's assessment is on the money.

Original RB-4's from the pre-Mastertone era are exceedingly rare, so when I see something like this, I automatically assume the neck to be a repro unless there's compelling evidence to the contrary. Too bad someone slapped that red paint on it. Gibson didn't do it and I doubt that Intermountain did either.

If anyone's thinking of buying this and re-doing the finish so it's close to the original color, varnish and brown aniline dye should do the trick. Since there's been a thread going on French polish, that would be one way to do it. I'd add about 10% sandarac to the shellac for the build coats, or lay down 2 or 3 coats of oil varnish and finish with a couple of coats of French polished shellac. If you do a good job and let it age 30 or 40 years, no one will be able to tell it was redone wink.

Didn't Charlie Poole also play a pre-Mastertone RB?

Edited by - rcc56 on 08/16/2022 12:41:49

Aug 16, 2022 - 7:43:08 PM
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10009 posts since 8/28/2013

yes, tuners are wrong, but how many other banjos have replaced tuners, especially those that started out w9th friction models. ( don't see those as a major red flag, but there are other aspects here that do indicate a conversion, and I mentioned a couple of them like incorect wood for this era Gibson.

The photos are too small to determine the number of hooks, but I don't really doubt it's a 12 inch rim. The scale on the 10 1/2 inch pots were the same as is the same as later Mastertones so unless this one is totally wonky, bridge placement probably won't matter much. I also won't make assumptions about exact model because of missing springs and balls--there are simply too many other parts that have flown the coup, and those balls have a tendency to roll away rather easily. I also note one spring, although it looks to be from something else. The rim looks too thin to be from an early "hollow rim" Gibson but photos can be deceptive. Mike is correct on the tailpiece body, although measuring my own, it's just a bit different size than the Waverly models seen on lesser Gibson models and hoards of old mandolins. I m not that person, though.

This is definitely a project, but thses were well made banjos and if someone put in the work, it may sound rather good.

Aug 17, 2022 - 8:02:17 AM

12346 posts since 10/27/2006

quote:
Originally posted by G Edward Porgie

yes, tuners are wrong, but how many other banjos have replaced tuners, especially those that started out w9th friction models. ( don't see those as a major red flag, but there are other aspects here that do indicate a conversion, and I mentioned a couple of them like incorect wood for this era Gibson.

 I also won't make assumptions about exact model because of missing springs and balls--there are simply too many other parts that have flown the coup, and those balls have a tendency to roll away rather easily. …
This is definitely a project, but these were well made banjos and if someone put in the work, it may sound rather good.


There are no holes in the rim where balls (3 has shallow holes) or springs (4 has deeper holes) could have gone.

Aug 17, 2022 - 9:02:03 AM
Players Union Member

Helix

USA

15841 posts since 8/30/2006

Everyone. Thank you. I learned so much so far. I opine Mike Halloran is making observations

uspto. There are even era parts available
from people here
Great Thread!


 

Edited by - Helix on 08/17/2022 09:03:33

Aug 17, 2022 - 10:11:35 AM
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10009 posts since 8/28/2013

Thanks for pointing out the lack of holes, Mike.

I only have one halfway decent eye these days (macular degeneration) and I haven't yet learned to use that one very well. You ought to see me trying to hit certain letters with my keyboard!

Old age can be miserable. They tell you about "dust to dust" but not about all the dirt in between.

Aug 17, 2022 - 11:28:32 AM

12346 posts since 10/27/2006

quote:
Originally posted by G Edward Porgie

Thanks for pointing out the lack of holes, Mike.

I only have one halfway decent eye these days (macular degeneration) and I haven't yet learned to use that one very well. You ought to see me trying to hit certain letters with my keyboard!

Old age can be miserable. They tell you about "dust to dust" but not about all the dirt in between.


As a recent retiree a couple years ago, dealing with many of the same eye issues, filling out forms, waiting on hold for hours with this agency or that insurance co. or pharmacy etc. …

When Pete Thownsend wrote, "Hope I die before I grow old.", he didn't have a freakin' clue.

Aug 17, 2022 - 11:36:56 AM

Fathand

Canada

12028 posts since 2/7/2008

quote:
Originally posted by GrahamHawker

shopgoodwill.com/item/149832928

Is that a tubaphone? Would a that tone ring fit that rim as it is cut?


That comes with a Gibson Tone ring already. 

Edited by - Fathand on 08/17/2022 11:40:03

Aug 17, 2022 - 2:07:08 PM
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10009 posts since 8/28/2013

quote:
Originally posted by mikehalloran
quote:
Originally posted by G Edward Porgie

Thanks for pointing out the lack of holes, Mike.

I only have one halfway decent eye these days (macular degeneration) and I haven't yet learned to use that one very well. You ought to see me trying to hit certain letters with my keyboard!

Old age can be miserable. They tell you about "dust to dust" but not about all the dirt in between.


As a recent retiree a couple years ago, dealing with many of the same eye issues, filling out forms, waiting on hold for hours with this agency or that insurance co. or pharmacy etc. …

When Pete Thownsend wrote, "Hope I die before I grow old.", he didn't have a freakin' clue.


I doubt if anybody has a "freakin' clue"--or any other clue type about what to expect. I think the most accurate description of age came from Igor Stravinsky, who said that old age was "a long series of humiliations." Some people say age is just a number: those are the ones who are really clueless. They seem never to have heard of heart attacks, strokes, hearing issues, etc. and maybe haven't encountered those with false teeth, oxygen tanks, white canes, and think that a walker is something they'll never need. 

 I am familiar with the telephone hold.  i have nearly fallen, exhausted, from my chair waiting for some person with only a cursory knowledge of English to cut into the horrendous "music", and attempt to mislead me. I am also aware of the young pigs who park their cars in handicapped spaces so they don't have to walk an extra ten feet.

Another thing I've discovered is that medicines can be packed with two seals, wads of cotton, and childproof tops (many of those tops can only be opened by children; kids use unconventional procedures, like hammer blows). 

At least we can still speak of banjos, although if I live much longer, I'll probably forget them and only recall humming into a comb wrapped in wax paper back when I was six.

Aug 18, 2022 - 3:45:44 AM
Players Union Member

Helix

USA

15841 posts since 8/30/2006

My mother used to say, "It's a great life if you don't weaken."

I have maybe misunderstood your attitude, George.

When I was a contractor for the State of Arizona, I had a referral with macular to both eyes. I was able to place this person typing their 60 wpm using only their peripheral vision.

Voc Rehab provided a computer screen magnifier and a window curtain that blocked the sun coming into the work station. Work Station modifications were one of my favorite things about that work. Usually the company came back and said, "Do you have 12 more people." I did, however, each person is different and doesn't get collected into middle management's idea of how to hire the "handicapped." "We got some."

We had a cashier at Glendale Community College cafeteria who needed a draftsman's stool with footrest.  With the stool she could cashier two lines at once, increasing group productivity.  Middle Management immediately wanted to use "her" stool all the time, that way, they didn't have to provide a stool for everyone to use, we refused,  they saw their error. They stored the chair every night.  No one else used this work station modification.  

 

This isn't much, but I want you take more from the community here.  Other people don't really get it.

"I ain't dyin', I'm getting ready to fly"  is the name of a song written by a granddaughter.

We all catch the westbound.  I'm good with Van Gogh's "Boats on the Beach."  One of the boats is named "Amitie"  friendship.  It's hard to find and hard to kill.  That's why I use the nature photos, it keeps me better grounded.

No patronization here, or at least not intended.  

Aug 19, 2022 - 7:30:14 AM

Ybanjo

USA

806 posts since 11/15/2009

Noone mentioned that the wood looks too good to be original 20's. Or did I miss something?? To me, that's a red flag.

Aug 20, 2022 - 11:19:39 AM

10009 posts since 8/28/2013

New or old doesn't matter so much when it's the wrong wood to begin with. These early Gibsons did not use rosewood fingerboards. The pot wood looks okay, at least in the photos. It shouldn't be red, though. The 3's I've seen were maple throughout with a sunburst finish going from reddish to yellowish. I think some of the other models were walnut.

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