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Is this real? Pre Mastertone RB 4 with pyralin reso?

Nov 29, 2023 - 1:42:27 PM
15584 posts since 10/30/2008

I know there was a recent discussion about an "original" RB 5 string open back style 4.

I found today on Reverb what is called an all original RB 4 pre Mastertone with the pyralin resonator. With a geared 5th. But I must admit, the rest of it looks plausible at least.

Anyone care to weight on possibility of it being authentic?

Nov 29, 2023 - 1:45:48 PM

15584 posts since 10/30/2008

For instance, that fingerboard binding is mighty white.

Nov 29, 2023 - 2:12:48 PM

2330 posts since 5/19/2018

Looks real enough to me…via internet pictures.

May think different seeing it in hand. Does look like the neck binding was redone.

Nice instrument. Price kind of surprises me. I guess inflation is hitting everything, but considering what post 1925 Gibson banjos go for, probably a fair price.

Nov 29, 2023 - 3:49 PM
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5005 posts since 2/20/2016

Spann's Guide to Gibson does document that factory order number to a batch of RB-4's.
I agree, the neck does look genuine except for the whiteness of the binding.
Perhaps the bindings were replaced or scraped clean. No way to tell without the instrument in hand.

But other than that, it looks like the real thing to me.
$4000? Who knows.  An genuine early '20's RB-4 is a truly rare instrument.

Edited by - rcc56 on 11/29/2023 15:54:43

Nov 29, 2023 - 3:57:31 PM
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2339 posts since 2/9/2007

Looks all original except the tuning pegs (and bridge). Way cool banjo.

Nov 29, 2023 - 6:23:42 PM

Bill Rogers (Moderator)


27757 posts since 6/25/2005

That’s a collector’s price, and presumably a collectible banjo.

Nov 29, 2023 - 7:22:27 PM

15584 posts since 10/30/2008

Thanks for the comments and the Spann's reference!

Nov 29, 2023 - 9:02:51 PM



853 posts since 5/17/2007

I believe the binding on the side of the neck has been replaced.

Nov 30, 2023 - 1:03:14 AM

2749 posts since 1/4/2009

I think the resonator is aftermarket , it looks like others I have seen and can't find anywhere that Gibson offered that. Also isn't 1924 a little early for that style?

Nov 30, 2023 - 5:46:15 AM
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466 posts since 2/11/2009

The resonator is an original Gibson piece. It can be found on Gibsons from that era and is pictured in at least one catalog.

Edited by - OldFrets on 11/30/2023 05:46:57

Nov 30, 2023 - 7:27:57 AM

5516 posts since 5/29/2011

Gibson offered that style resonator in at least two colors, black and tortoise shell.

Nov 30, 2023 - 12:25:37 PM



2576 posts since 11/29/2005

Notice the advertisement posted references “ball bearing tone tube”.

Dec 1, 2023 - 8:30:05 AM



933 posts since 3/3/2007

Cool! It appears to be authentic in all details and appointments. The FON photo appears as 11053A-2? (the ? is an unreadable number). It is indeed from the first known batch of RB4s from 1924. My database shows 6 banjos in that batch, the first being -3. There is one (-29) that had a pyralin reso that was originally posted on the old Biggs list, and might be the same banjo. Grisman's was also in that batch, and another from that batch sold on Ebay for $4277 in 2014.
For reference, the first Gibson RB's were RB-Jr, batch 11051A.

Dec 1, 2023 - 11:06:42 AM
Players Union Member



10396 posts since 1/22/2003

Originally posted by Brett

Notice the advertisement posted references “ball bearing tone tube”.

The advertisement also calls this banjo a Mastertone, unlike what we do today (see the title of this thread: "pre Mastertone"). The tonering is a ball-bearing, the early one that does not produce a raised head. There may be no springs.

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