Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 25 of 42

Thread: Gibson trapdoor

  1. #1

    Default Gibson trapdoor

    I inherited this instrument from my Grandfather, he played it on steam boats up and down the Mississippi River. I am having one heck of a time figuring out exactly what it is. Any help on year and model is greatly appreciated.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

Name:	IMG_20170307_194239_716.jpg 
Views:	267 
Size:	413.7 KB 
ID:	154654   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	IMG_20170308_054845_937.jpg 
Views:	217 
Size:	1.49 MB 
ID:	154655  

  2. The following members say thank you to SK8 for this post:


  3. #2
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Va
    Posts
    2,465

    Default Re: Gibson trapdoor

    Seems to me to be a Gibson tenor banjo, a main instrument in dixeland jazz, which makes sense as this is known as riverboat music.

  4. The following members say thank you to Mandoplumb for this post:


  5. #3
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    40.1646 N, 74.2083 W
    Posts
    23,727

    Default Re: Gibson trapdoor

    It's a mid-20's Gibson tenor banjo. Do you see a serial number anyplace inside?
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  6. #4

    Default Re: Gibson trapdoor

    Yes, it's 11742-5

  7. #5
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    40.1646 N, 74.2083 W
    Posts
    23,727

    Default Re: Gibson trapdoor

    I don't have my books here at work. If anyone else can date it I'm sure they'll jump in. Otherwise I'll try and do it tonight.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  8. #6
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Rochester NY 14610
    Posts
    16,251

    Default Re: Gibson trapdoor

    Almost all the Gibson trap-doors I see have a "The Gibson" logo on the headstock. This one doesn't, which might suggest a TB-Jr model (?). The modified "snakehead" headstock suggests a later (1923-5) model, since the earlier ones had the "moccasin" shape.

    The "serial number" is actually a factory order number: the fifth instrument in the batch number 11742. This Gibson archive source assigns FON 11742 to the year 1923.
    Allen Hopkins
    Gibsn: '54 F5 3pt F2 A-N Custm K1 m'cello
    Natl Triolian Dobro mando
    Victoria b-back Merrill alumnm b-back
    H-O mandolinetto
    Stradolin Vega banjolin
    Sobell'dola Washburn b-back'dola
    Eastmn: 615'dola 805 m'cello
    Flatiron 3K OM

  9. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to allenhopkins For This Useful Post:


  10. #7
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    40.1646 N, 74.2083 W
    Posts
    23,727

    Default Re: Gibson trapdoor

    There you go. I assumed that was a FON, I just didn't get home in time . Thanks Allen.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  11. The following members say thank you to MikeEdgerton for this post:


  12. #8
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    40.1646 N, 74.2083 W
    Posts
    23,727

    Default Re: Gibson trapdoor

    Joe Spann's books say's it's a 1922 TB-1. Gruhn says it was introduced in 1922. Trap door, ebony finger board, pearl dot inlay, nearly straight peg head sides, no peghead ornamentation, nickel plated hardware, bur it's supposed to have a slanted "The Gibson" logo (missing) and have a sunburst finish on the back (unknown). It shouldn't have a tone ring and it does not have one so that's an indication. The Gibson logo is missing but that's not all that unusual. Maybe the neck was replaced or the logo was never there.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  13. The following members say thank you to MikeEdgerton for this post:


  14. #9
    Lurkist dhergert's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Blue Zone, California
    Posts
    1,407
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default Re: Gibson trapdoor

    The peghead logo wasn't consistently included among those early trapdoor models. I've seen and had some with and some without.

    Love those ivoroid head guards... I use head guards like that on all of my main playing banjos.
    -- Don

    "Music: A minor auditory irritation occasionally characterized as pleasant."
    "It is a lot more fun to make music than it is to argue about it."


    2002 Gibson F-9
    2016 MK LFSTB
    1975 Suzuki taterbug (plus many other noisemakers)
    [About how I tune my mandolins]
    [7/29/2019 -- New Arrival!!!]

  15. #10
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    40.1646 N, 74.2083 W
    Posts
    23,727

    Default Re: Gibson trapdoor

    Those pickguard things are pretty cool. That was an aftermarket item and all of them I've ever seen were built using bicycle spokes.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  16. #11
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Westchester, NY
    Posts
    27,253

    Default Re: Gibson trapdoor

    I thought it was a TB-1. I don't think they made a Junior with a trap-door resonator. I have a TB-Junior and headstock is a straight-sided snakehead whereas the OP's banjo's headstock has curved sides. Here's mine with a Vega Style M.

    I don't know about the TB-1 but my Junior has a really short scale length for a tenor: 19 inches. The Vega which is also 17 frets to the body, is 21 inches.

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	StyleM_TBJr.jpg 
Views:	126 
Size:	283.5 KB 
ID:	154701
    Jim

    My Stream on Soundcloud
    Facebook
    19th Century Tunes
    Playing lately:
    2018 Campanella A-5 -- 2007 Brentrup A4C -- 1915 Frank Merwin Ashley violin -- Huss & Dalton DS -- 1923 Gibson A2 black snakehead -- '83 Flatiron A5-2 -- 1939 Gibson L-00 -- 1936 Epiphone Deluxe -- 1928 Gibson L-5 -- ca. 1890s Fairbanks Senator Banjo -- ca. 1923 Vega Style M tenor banjo -- ca. 1920 Weymann Style 25 Mandolin-Banjo -- National RM-1

  17. #12
    Lurkist dhergert's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Blue Zone, California
    Posts
    1,407
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default Re: Gibson trapdoor

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    Those pickguard things are pretty cool. That was an aftermarket item and all of them I've ever seen were built using bicycle spokes.
    Yup...

    The ivoroid ones were actually included from Gibson with many of the pre-1925 Trapdoors (along with the classy thick wire armrests) and also with a few of the later Ballbearing Mastertones. The mounting hardware may look like spokes, but they seem to be thicker and much stiffer metal than most spokes I've seen, and they are more rectangular shaped inside the ivoroid body sizing well. These also are shown as available in the Gibson catalogs from about 1922 until the early '30s, advertised as "head guards".

    I really dislike touching the vibrating surface of the banjo head -- it noticeably reduces volume. So I have acquired a few of the nice Gibson ivoroid head guards over time and use them on all of my appropriately sized main playing banjos. And I made a large one out of acrylic sheeting and various available hardware for my 14" cello banjo.

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	RB800wHeadGuard.jpg 
Views:	79 
Size:	85.9 KB 
ID:	154715 Click image for larger version. 

Name:	CelloBanjowHeadGuard2.jpg 
Views:	65 
Size:	61.7 KB 
ID:	154716

    I feel the same way about mandolins, wanting to also let them vibrate as freely as possible, which is primarily why I use tone guards, armrests and pickguards on both of my main playing mandolins. A side benefit is that they protect the body of the instruments very nicely. This is a well covered discussion topic here in Cafe'.
    -- Don

    "Music: A minor auditory irritation occasionally characterized as pleasant."
    "It is a lot more fun to make music than it is to argue about it."


    2002 Gibson F-9
    2016 MK LFSTB
    1975 Suzuki taterbug (plus many other noisemakers)
    [About how I tune my mandolins]
    [7/29/2019 -- New Arrival!!!]

  18. #13
    Registered User Timbofood's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Kalamazoo, MI.
    Posts
    7,179

    Default Re: Gibson trapdoor

    For comparison, here's one from 1919
    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	IMG_0605.JPG 
Views:	65 
Size:	290.2 KB 
ID:	154717

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	IMG_0603.JPG 
Views:	67 
Size:	278.9 KB 
ID:	154718

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	IMG_0602.JPG 
Views:	73 
Size:	267.6 KB 
ID:	154719
    I've never looked for the FON!

    There does not appear to one in any of the normal places, I suspect this may have been a piece of "government" work by my wife's great grandfather.
    Timothy F. Lewis
    "If brains was lard, that boy couldn't grease a very big skillet" J.D. Clampett

  19. #14
    Registered User Banjo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
    Location
    Germany
    Posts
    24

    Default Re: Gibson trapdoor

    Hello
    I have the same one #11717 17 . I bought it as a 1923 tb1. I converted it with a remo head, new tension hoop , and banjo planetary tuners. The trapdoor is always removed because of a better tone.
    I also add one of my self made tube tonering like the higher level gibsons of this time. That makes the banjo alive!
    I started to make a nice 5string conversion neck, just the lacquer is missing.
    Photo comes later...

  20. #15
    Registered User Banjo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
    Location
    Germany
    Posts
    24

    Default Re: Gibson trapdoor

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	20170309_181833.jpg 
Views:	88 
Size:	364.4 KB 
ID:	154720

  21. #16
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    S.W. Wisconsin
    Posts
    5,583

    Default Re: Gibson trapdoor

    Quote Originally Posted by Banjo View Post
    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	20170309_181833.jpg 
Views:	88 
Size:	364.4 KB 
ID:	154720
    My trapdoor has two coordinator rods as opposed to one and a dowel. Is that original?
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

  22. #17
    Registered User Banjo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
    Location
    Germany
    Posts
    24

    Default Re: Gibson trapdoor

    Quote Originally Posted by pops1 View Post
    My trapdoor has two coordinator rods as opposed to one and a dowel. Is that original?
    Yes it is original. I think the double coordinator rods came later. Do you have one with tonering?

  23. #18
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    S.W. Wisconsin
    Posts
    5,583

    Default Re: Gibson trapdoor

    Yes, it has a tone ring, I should look to see the FON for the year. I think ii is a TB3. I have a Goldtone 5 string neck on it now.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

  24. #19
    Registered User Banjo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
    Location
    Germany
    Posts
    24

    Default Re: Gibson trapdoor

    Gibson changed much litle things between 1920 and 1925. I love the sound of this special tonering. I made a lot of those from 11" to 8".

  25. #20
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    S.W. Wisconsin
    Posts
    5,583

    Default Re: Gibson trapdoor

    If I remember they had a 40 hole tone ring and one with less, number escapes me at the present. The 40 hole being favored and mine has 3?, so not as favored as the 40, but sounds great non the less.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

  26. #21
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    S.W. Wisconsin
    Posts
    5,583

    Default Re: Gibson trapdoor

    Quote Originally Posted by pops1 View Post
    If I remember they had a 40 hole tone ring and one with less, number escapes me at the present. The 40 hole being favored and mine has 3?, so not as favored as the 40, but sounds great non the less.
    Well my memory was way off of this, mine has way more than 40 holes in the tone ring. Didn't count, but must be nearly 40 just in the one side. The number I see is 11039, but definitely two coordinator rods, at least my memory was right there.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

  27. #22

    Default Re: Gibson trapdoor

    Does anyone know if you have to take the neck off the 1922 TB-1 to remove the tension ring holding the head on?
    Last edited by SK8; Jun-09-2020 at 12:46pm. Reason: better description

  28. #23
    Teacher, luthier
    Join Date
    Oct 2017
    Location
    Southeast Tennessee
    Posts
    1,779

    Default Re: Gibson trapdoor

    On the one pictured at the beginning of this thread, yes.
    On one that doesn't have a fingerboard extension over the head, loosening the neck would be sufficient.

  29. #24

    Default Re: Gibson trapdoor

    Okay. Thanks rcc56. I think that will be a little over my skill level. I'll take it to someone who knows what they are doing.

  30. #25
    Teacher, luthier
    Join Date
    Oct 2017
    Location
    Southeast Tennessee
    Posts
    1,779

    Default Re: Gibson trapdoor

    If you go to banjohangout.org, they keep a database of luthiers with banjo experience. From the hangout home page, move your cursor over the word "marketplace" and you will see the luthier search option come up. You can search by state [or country].

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •