View Full Version : 1925 gibson tb-5

Aug-03-2008, 5:58pm
Hello all,
While Checking out the local listings on craigslist I saw this http://poconos.craigslist.org/msg/781200166.html I certainly dont have the money for it, but does 8000$ seem kinda high? Its located in the Delaware Water Gap(where I live) and probabaly owned by some old Jazz cat. there are alot of them around here. Let me know what you all think. Thanks!

Aug-03-2008, 6:04pm
Buy a mandolin not a b#%jo

Aug-03-2008, 6:08pm
Its a tenor!

Aug-03-2008, 6:19pm
Well, banjobuyer.com has one for sale for $10K here. (http://www.banjobuyer.com/make/Gibson) #Antiquehelper.com shows one auctioned off last year for $4K here. (http://www.antiquehelper.com/item.php?itemID=38831) #Quite a range, but of course condition etc. can't be ascertained. #The TB-5 Mastertone was the top of Gibson's line in '25; I assume it's a "ball bearing" arch-top, so not the most in-demand for conversion to a 5-string, which is what happens to most of the old tenor and plectrum Mastertones. #My own Mastertone was a GB-3 guitar-banjo from the early '20's that I had a 5-string neck built for.

I would hazard a guess (and that's all it is) that $8K would be toward the high side, but not completely unreasonable, if it's in good condition. #Seller doesn't mention a case, but that's a consideration as well.

Aug-03-2008, 6:22pm
Hey, if it snaps your cap and the table won't be bare, I say do it! Might be fun.

Aug-03-2008, 6:27pm
"Various experts tell me it's worth $8,000"

He should give it to one of them on consignment. It's a little too early to be the true holy grail that most banjo pickers are looking for. If it's later in 1925 it might have the Lloyd Loar designed ball bearing tonering (or one of the three variations of the same). The banjo folks don't hold Lloyd's work in the same esteem as the mandolin folks do. It wasn't a big hit. The person that will probably step up and pay the most for this banjo won't be looking to keep it as a tenor they'll be looking to re-neck it as a 5-string (they'll make it an RB instead of keeping it as a TB model). I'd be really surprised if it went for that much money.

Aug-04-2008, 3:38pm
The Loar era (1922-1924) TB5 are totally different then the post Loar TB5 so no association with Loar on this one.
The Loar era are worth the big bucks and the style 5 is as rare as they come. I've only seen 4 in my lifetime.

Aug-04-2008, 4:53pm
I thought Lloyd designed the ball bearing tonering.

OK, I'm not nuts, he did. (http://www.vguitar.com/features/brands/details.asp?AID=2497) However, this is a bit confusing as Gruhn shows the 1925 TB-5 starting the year without the ball bearings and then going through three different ball bearing desings (at least one would be Loars, possibly the second as well). As for the value of the Loar Era TB-5's I'll accept that they might have a higher value. I still don't think this one is going to be in that ballpark.

Aug-07-2008, 10:09am
Here are a couple more 1920s Gibson tenor banjos with head-scratch-inducing prices, especially the second one:

Tokyo (http://tokyo.craigslist.jp/msg/779624513.html)
Eugene (http://eugene.craigslist.org/msg/779416087.html)

Aug-07-2008, 1:10pm
Jeez, I paid all of $500 for my ball-bearing GB-3 Mastertone guitar-banjo a few years ago (of course, it was from a guy I knew in high school), then paid another $500 to Bernie Lehmann to make a replica diamonds-&-squares inlay RB-3 neck for it. Nice banjo (and I kept the 6-string neck in case someone wants to put it back "original"), but never thought of it being worth multi-thousands. Ball-bearing arch-tops aren't the in-demand variety of pre-war Mastertone.

Aug-07-2008, 3:55pm
But the difference is significant between a style three and a style 5. The style 5 was the forerunner of the Granada and you're talking gold plating, engraving, etc.etc.etc. I'd love to have a ball-bearing tb-5 to convert to 5 string and regret when not getting one when prices were under $3K less than 5 years ago.

Once the one-piece flange 30's eras Gibsons went significantly up in price (including the the tb-1s and 2s), the two-piece flange 20's era banjos were soon to increase as well. As it stands you can't find a good archtop two-piece flange tb-3 for under $3K. Even the ball bearing threes are fetching from in the 2Ks.


Aug-08-2008, 11:11pm
The 1925's and 26's Mastertones (TB-3, TB-4, TB-5) were all ball-bearing banjos. The early 25's tone rings had holes visible on the skirt (on the outside of the rim). The later 25's and 26's had solid skirts. They are desirable banjos, but not as desirable and the '27 and later Mastertones. As Jim and Tom said, the 5's were gold plated and I believe were made of Walnut (later ones were I know). I think the price in this banjo is high - maybe more in the 5k - 7k range depending on condition.