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Dec 6, 2022 - 7:31:03 AM
378 posts since 11/10/2022

Having seen many posts on bho and reddit "looking for Granada Style Banjo"

I have done a lot of searching to figure out what that means to folks. I read Joe Spanns book and his posts as well as many other posts. So i somewhat understand the numbers of prewar Granadas, rings that came with them, Prewar and Modern years made etc. I have seen it suggested that Granadas were meant to be on the cheap end of pro banjos...between a 3 and 4. Yet some Granadas are priced higher than 4s and 5s.

But i still havent figured out what makes a Granada a Granada? And what do modern luthiers think when they hear "I want a granada style banjo"

Thanks in advance

Dec 6, 2022 - 7:53:13 AM
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176 posts since 7/24/2021

In a nut shell . Maple wood with gold plating, engraved, tail piece has Granada engraved also. A bit more fancy than a style 3. They are coveted by man banjo players . I hope this kinda helps

Dec 6, 2022 - 7:58:38 AM
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2428 posts since 1/4/2009

Granada is a style of banjo, Gibson created it in the 20s. Just as style 1, 2,3 ect. The style is a combo of the wood, the inlays, the plating and the engraving. Here are some examples of prewar gibson granadas, look at them and the style becomes quicly apparenent.

 

http://earnestbanjo.com/wp/gibson-granada-mastertone-banjos/

Dec 6, 2022 - 8:25:44 AM

Jbo1

USA

1212 posts since 5/19/2007

Will Frady , and some woman banjo players as well. ;)

Dec 6, 2022 - 8:29:45 AM
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176 posts since 7/24/2021

Yes indeed! It appears I forgot to ad a “y” to complete the word many. My bad! Especially women, they love bling.

Dec 6, 2022 - 8:41:03 AM

378 posts since 11/10/2022

quote:
Originally posted by Will Frady

In a nut shell . Maple wood with gold plating, engraved, tail piece has Granada engraved also. A bit more fancy than a style 3. They are coveted by man banjo players . I hope this kinda helps


I think it just hit me that the curley maple was a Granada thing (for Gibson).  It gets confusing because some "Granada style" clones arent curly maple.  I also uderstand the gold plating which isnt unique to Granada.  Granada engraved....boy I hope thats not what makes a Granada, but Ive seen smaller things make antiques valuable lol

 

I think it helped.

Dec 6, 2022 - 9:34:57 AM

5082 posts since 11/20/2004

Granada style to me is nice curly maple neck and reso, rosewood fingerboard, and engraved gold plating with a Mastertone style tone ring.

Dec 6, 2022 - 9:54:35 AM
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2087 posts since 5/19/2018

Granada = $$$$

Not Granada = less $$$

Sub Mastertone = $$

Dec 6, 2022 - 10:22:05 AM

176 posts since 7/24/2021

I’ve always wanted a Granada but it seems I wanted something else first.I also wanted a style 11 “Sub mastertone”. Which I was able to obtain, all original. I bought at a decent price. It got shipped in a cheap cardboard case inside a cardboard box with the heel broken out of the 5 string neck. I had Clancy Mullins make a pearloid 5 string neck for it, now I’m into it about as deep as a “mastertone” . I just don’t have the heart to cut it . Banjos are expensive especially those old Granadas !

Dec 6, 2022 - 10:24:48 AM
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176 posts since 7/24/2021

It was a tb 11. Not an original 5 string.

Dec 6, 2022 - 11:34:27 AM

ChunoTheDog

Canada

2038 posts since 8/9/2019

Granada was one of the highest trim levels. Not an in between style 3 and 4.

Granada style just means an all maple, gold plated and engraved banjo in the style of a Mastertone Granada. Usually with rosewood fingerboard.

I guess the name "Granada-style" really sums itself up.

Dec 6, 2022 - 11:37:56 AM

ChunoTheDog

Canada

2038 posts since 8/9/2019

quote:
Originally posted by NotABanjoYoda
quote:
Originally posted by Will Frady

In a nut shell . Maple wood with gold plating, engraved, tail piece has Granada engraved also. A bit more fancy than a style 3. They are coveted by man banjo players . I hope this kinda helps


I think it just hit me that the curley maple was a Granada thing (for Gibson).  It gets confusing because some "Granada style" clones arent curly maple.  I also uderstand the gold plating which isnt unique to Granada.  Granada engraved....boy I hope thats not what makes a Granada, but Ive seen smaller things make antiques valuable lol

 

I think it helped.


Granda style clones would have highly figured maple, yes. For both resonator and neck.

It's important to note that the only difference between all the masterone styles and versions are the woods used for neck and reso, plating type and ornamentation like engraving, purfling, pearl tuner buttons etc.

Underneath all that all mastertones are built essentially the same.

Dec 6, 2022 - 1:36:20 PM

378 posts since 11/10/2022

While on the subject, do all Granadas have "Granada" on the tailpiece?

Thanks

Dec 6, 2022 - 1:42:46 PM

ChunoTheDog

Canada

2038 posts since 8/9/2019

Nothing was absolute with Gibson at the Kalamazoo plant. Especially during the great depression.

Dec 6, 2022 - 2:45:52 PM

15129 posts since 10/30/2008

Granada engraving was a specific pattern of long "arches" on the tension hoop, between the tension hooks. Usually the tailpiece had the word Granada engraved in it, but Gibson stopped doing that on every Granada sometime in 1929 or so. From then on the tailpiece might be unengraved, or engraved. Also, the Granada armrest was engraved with a specific pattern. On the top surface it was a really elongated diamond shape with a big ellipse in the center. On the side it was a series of arches again not as wide as the arches on the tension hoop.

The wood was curly maple in a rich warm reddish-brown until the switch to one piece flanges, at which time the resonator while still curly maple, had a nice warm sunburst in the center. The earlier Granadas had tan/black/tan blocks inlaid in two concentric circles in the back of the resonator, and the tan/black/tan marquetry also run up the side of the fingerboard just beneath the white binding.

Nut was usually mother of pearl. Rosewood fingerboard. In earlier years only hearts and flowers inlay with a fiddle shaped peghead was cataloged. Starting in the 1929 with the switch to one piece flange construction, the peghead changed to the double cut shape, and Flying Eagles inlay was cataloged (but H&F also continued).

Granadas are more sought after by bluegrassers because Earl, Sonny and JD cherished and played them (although Earl's was heavily modified by Gibson with new nickel plated unengraved metal parts, except for the tone ring.

Granada was the entry level GOLD PLATED Mastertone. The lowest price cataloged gold banjo. Next in expense, and I daresay at the top of the heap in glowering oriental grandeur was the Style 5 Deluxe, offered only until 1929. Known today as the Ralph Stanley banjo, or "wreath" inlay style. ALL metal parts were engraved gold. The wood was dark stained walnut. About 1928 the Style 6 began to be offered. This was when banjo sales were still hot and Gibson was really broadening the offering into higher grade, wildly more expensive models. Style 6 (no other name) had wild grained maple "excrescence" veneer on the resonator, cut from maple burls (big knobs of growth that stuck out from the side of the tree like a tumor). This had slightly more and fancier engraving than the Style 5, including on the narrow top surface of the tension hoop! The catalog standard was large "X"es on the metal parts. It came in two flashy bindings, either black and white "checkerboard", or long strips of plastic "gold sparkle. Almost all of these were two piece flanges with all fiddle shaped pegheads. The peghead inlay was unique, but the fingerboard inlay in ebony board was a slight variant of hearts & flowers. The Style 6 is also unique for Gibson trying out their new concept flat head tone rings in perhaps 3 different variations, in addition to the tried and true arch top. The Style 6 was cataloged for the shortest time, as the arrival of the Depression reduced super-expensive gold banjos sales so low that Gibson just used up parts already on hand.

Again pursuing the competitors' super flashy VERY expensive gold plated engraved models, Gibson also cataloged the Bella Voce, Florentine and All Americans in the very late 1920s. Each had unique engraving in the gold plated metal (although pieces/parts crossed models a fair amount as the years went by and Gibson tried to use up parts on hand. Bella Voce (Beautiful Voice) was offered in 4 kinds of wood and stain. What was in common (theoretically) was the pressed wood design of a harp/lyre/clarinet, all painted in Technicolor, on the back and side of the resonator and the back/sides of the peghead (usually fiddle shaped). These were introduced to the market in 1927-28 when banjos sales were still hot. Almost all were arch tops.

The Florentine introduced painted mother of toilet seat plastic fingerboards and peghead veneers. The painted scenery was actually of Venetian scenes. Peghead featured RHINESTONES!!! The pressed wood design in the resonator and peghead back/sides featured big swag curtains and heraldic crowns. A specific Florentine engraving pattern was cataloged. Same 4 choices of wood and stain as Bella Voce. Again, parts got all mixed up in the later 1930s.

All American was the most expensive, most lavish banjo Gibson offered. Painted mother of toilet seat fingerboard with American history scenes. Peghead was made in the outline of the US Federal Eagle and Shield, and carved or press wood design to make it somewhat 3-D. Back of the resonator had a huge eagle with olive branches and arrows, etc like on US money. It was wildly expensive even for its day, and it's said less than 10 were made. Arrived on banjo market just as it began to collapse into the Depression. Again in the later 1930s different All American pieces got mixed up into Bella Voces, Florentines and even Floor-Sweep Style 6s!

In the world of Bella Voces, Florentines and All American Mastertones, almost no RB 5 strings were made. On the other hand, several dozen or score 5 string Granadas WERE sold. Thus you see more original Granada 5 strings than the higher models. Even more than original 5 string Style 5 DeLuxes and Style 6s.

The bluegrass "lust" for old Granadas (and even Gibson's reissues since 1987) is significantly higher than for Styles 5, 6, Bella Voce, Florentine and All American. Even the lovely Style 6 is not immune to the slang name of "whorehouse banjo".

The models higher than Granada like B.V., Florentine and All American, don't pull their weight in market value for bluegrassers. Too "over the top", perhaps.

An old Granada usually gets "snapped up". Right now there is a very nice Bella Voce languishing in a Nashville shop's inventory. Likewise Florentines, and even a PB FLAT HEAD All American!! One issue is the expense of getting a "correct" 5 string neck made for these extravagant instruments. Also, they weren't played by the bluegrass icons.

Yes, Doug Dillard played a converted Bella Voce. Yes John McCuen plays a converted Florentine. Yes there's a photo of Don Reno playing an All American.

Granada seems to be the "tasteful" gold plated Mastertone unofficially "endorsed" by the big bluegrass banjo heroes. Made in the greatest number of gold plated 5 string flat head Mastertones. Although that number is not huge.

Dec 6, 2022 - 3:34:51 PM

378 posts since 11/10/2022

The Old Timer

At the risk of catching your keyboard on fire. My understanding is mastertones\granadas came with bb tonerings, nonbb archtops, flatheads. In addition there was one and two piece flanges.

In order of desirability (most to least without exhausting all possibilities)
flathead+one : flathead+two : bbs and archtops

Two questions.
Why is flathead+one more sought after than flathead + two?

For a Granada 4 string tb or pb, how much less in cost would a two flange, bb ring be to a flathead + one flange? (least to most desirable granada config)

Feel free to correct me before answering.

Dec 6, 2022 - 4:50:42 PM

ChunoTheDog

Canada

2038 posts since 8/9/2019

Rule of thumb 1pf flathead is the most sought after always.

Dec 6, 2022 - 4:55:48 PM

ChunoTheDog

Canada

2038 posts since 8/9/2019

quote:
Originally posted by NotABanjoYoda

The Old Timer

At the risk of catching your keyboard on fire. My understanding is mastertones\granadas came with bb tonerings, nonbb archtops, flatheads. In addition there was one and two piece flanges.

In order of desirability (most to least without exhausting all possibilities)
flathead+one : flathead+two : bbs and archtops

Two questions.
Why is flathead+one more sought after than flathead + two?

For a Granada 4 string tb or pb, how much less in cost would a two flange, bb ring be to a flathead + one flange? (least to most desirable granada config)

Feel free to correct me before answering.


Pre war? A PW original Granada in 1pf with original flathead tone ring is like 90k usd +++ no matter the neck.

Edited by - ChunoTheDog on 12/06/2022 16:56:05

Dec 6, 2022 - 5:28:26 PM

378 posts since 11/10/2022

Guess I better sell an nft cat drawing! lol

Dec 6, 2022 - 5:48:40 PM

15129 posts since 10/30/2008

Chuno the dog makes the main point; an original pre-war Granada one piece flange heavy weight flat head is the top of the list. If in good condition (presuming it's unaltered and not "put together" from orphan or found parts) think $100K.

Next comes a one piece flange pre war cast arch top Granada, original or equipped with an after market "no cut" conversion flat head tone ring, or even one with a "cut" rim and a full heavyweight after market flat head tone ring, think in excess of $20K. Upper value estimate depends a lot on who made the flat head tone ring, who (if anyone) cut the rim, condition of all ORIGINAL metal parts. One piece flanges in 1929 banjos have a nasty habit of crackling and falling apart, or little piece breaking off around the decorative holes. Common to see a banjo with a replacement one piece flange made POST-war. Could be from a 1950s or 60s Gibson Mastertone in which case it's at least the same maker as the pre-war flange. Could also be an after market flange made quite recently. These banjos require careful consideration by a shopper. Tension hoops from 1929 sometimes have this same disintegration issue, and have been replaced. A tension hoop or a flange from a 1955 RB 100 can be stripped, gold plated and engraved to make a fine Granada out of a disintegrated one, but it's not ORIGINAL, so that affects value.  Oh, a "virgin" TB or PB Granada with original arch top tone ring that no one has yet touched, is a major find, but remember you have to pay for a 5 string neck and any tone ring work if you want it.

Next comes the big happy family of two piece flange Granadas with arch top tone rings. These are much more plentiful than one piece flange Granadas.  These are generally great for those trying to "step up", but not necessarily to top shelf. These are usually structurally sound, with no need to have replaced any failed metal parts. Be aware though that they might have had tensions hoops cannibalized to fix up a disintegrated one piece flange banjo whose tension hoop broke up. Usually you can buy these with arch top tone ring and tenor neck included, sometimes with the rim cut for an after market flat head tone ring. Now, who made the tone ring and neck has a larger influence (percentage wise) on the value. If the rim has been cut and a flat head after market tone ring installed, the quality of the rim cut can be worth a lot. The best will have EXCELLENT custom fitting of the tone ring to the rim. These are fine banjos played by many pros. The rim wood is heavier than in a one piece flange banjo. That change in ratio of rim wood to tone ring/flange metal weight has some sort of effect on sound. But it's not a ruinous difference. Generally think around $10K for these banjos -- more for EXCELLENT conversion neck and rim cut and tone ring fit. Less for not so excellent necks, or rim/tone ring fit, or if you are going to have pay your own money to buy an after market flat head ring and get the rim cut (or buy a no-cut conversion flat head ring). The lowest cost is a virgin tenor banjo where you have to spend $1500+ for a real good conversion neck, etc.

The bargain Granada is a ball bearing. A nice Tenor Granada is going to be $5K to $7K range depending on whether you buy the conversion neck and conversion flat head ring (they make no-cut conversion flat head rings for both 1925 and 1926 ball bearings). One of the most famous bluegrass banjoists did most of his recorded work on a converted ball bearing Granada. My first pre war banjo was a 1926 BB Granada and I love that old beauty. I've had a no cut flat head ring in it, but once I got some Gibson reissue flat heads, I put that old Granada back to ball bearing configuration. BBs are solidly built and make great sounding flat heads if you take care.

There are two visual giveaways for a 1925 or 1926 flat head conversion Granada. First is the tension hoop; BBs have a split or grooved tension hoop with flattened tension hooks. All later tension hoops are notched with round hooks. Also, BBs have hex head resonator "thumbscrews". All later banjos have knurled round thumbscrews. (There are a few exceptions to these two points, from very late 1926 banjos, and some floor sweeps from the mid to late 30s.)

Just an aesthetic note: a two piece flange Granada should have a fiddle shaped peghead for a really "proper" job. A one piece flange Granada should have a double cut peghead shape.

If you're gonna spend $7K or more on a Granada, you have better have CONFIDENCE in your ability to inspect the instrument. Take your time and look over every old Granada you see. Ask questions. If it's not a selling/buying situation, most owners will be very forthcoming to help you get educated.

One other thing -- old Granadas should have mother of pearl tuner knobs, if the tuners are original.

I won't even comment on sub Mastertones or sub Granadas that have been "converted" to Granadas by gold plating, engraving, "re-skinning" the resonator, changing the neck, new tailpiece, new tuners, etc. Basically altering or replacing everything. There is an increasing number of this type of conversion showing up nowadays.

My thoughts anyway. Perhaps you can tell I value originality and TOP quality work.

Edited by - The Old Timer on 12/06/2022 17:54:34

Dec 6, 2022 - 8:44:27 PM

378 posts since 11/10/2022

Most informative. Luckily, I want a BB in some form because I already have a nice sounding rb but find the overly thought out bb and springs fascinating.

Dec 7, 2022 - 7:16:14 AM
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4442 posts since 3/28/2008

quote:
Originally posted by NotABanjoYoda



Two questions.
Why is flathead+one more sought after than flathead + two?

 


Two words: "Earl Scruggs".

Two of the nicest PW FHs I've ever tried are Randy Barrett's sparkle 6 and Dick Smith's Florentine--both of them 2PF banjos.

Dec 7, 2022 - 7:45:40 AM
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13797 posts since 1/15/2005

quote:
Originally posted by Ira Gitlin
quote:
Originally posted by NotABanjoYoda



Two questions.
Why is flathead+one more sought after than flathead + two?

 


Two words: "Earl Scruggs".

Two of the nicest PW FHs I've ever tried are Randy Barrett's sparkle 6 and Dick Smith's Florentine--both of them 2PF banjos.


Ira, you are exactly right, but very few will admit that some two-piece flatheads sound as good or better than a lot of one-piece flatheads for one reason ........... they are TWO-PIECE FLATHEADS!

Dec 7, 2022 - 9:08:21 AM

378 posts since 11/10/2022

BanjoLink

I think your dead on. It isnt lost to my fresh set of eyes that the rareist banjos just happen to sound better. I collect other things and that narrative is the same in those hobbies as well. Not to say the rare items dont do their job well ...

Dec 7, 2022 - 3:04:26 PM

15129 posts since 10/30/2008

Granadas were NOT the most rare gold Gibson Mastertones -- not even one piece flange ones. There are some fascinating one-offs or two-offs in the Bella Voce, Florentine, All American family, whether one piece flanged, heavy weight flat head tone ring, or both.

Granadas, while not plentiful, were the most numerous gold pre-war one piece flange flat heads, and yes, even the most numerous gold flat head RB 5 strings.

If you're shopping for a ball bearing Granada you should have a lot of fun, and many examples to look at.  Naturally they don't all hit the market at the same time, so take your time to learn to appreciate the fine details and pick one that doesn't disappoint down the road if you see one that's nicer.

I advise against posting a Want Ad.  Scammers jump on those pretty quick and send you photos of a BB Granada.  Sometimes if you pay them, all you end up with is the photos of somebody else's banjo.  Caveat Emptor.

Edited by - The Old Timer on 12/07/2022 15:08:10

Dec 8, 2022 - 7:14:54 AM

15129 posts since 10/30/2008

A BHO member just posted in the Swap Shop Forum a 1925 Granada spotted in a Facebook ad in Pennsylvania. Link is in that Forum. Take care!

Edited by - The Old Timer on 12/08/2022 07:16:07

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