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Thread: Gibson Banjolin - Info, please!

  1. #1

    Default Gibson Banjolin - Info, please!

    Any info on this banjolin would be appreciated. It has 11600-4 number stamped inside. Model number, year, original/not original parts etc. Many thanks in advance!

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  2. #2
    Teacher, repair person
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    Default Re: Gibson Banjolin - Info, please!

    It was built in 1922.
    The specs on banjos from this period often deviate from catalog descriptions, but it is closest to what is called an MB-2 or MB Melody Model.

    The interesting looking partial-disc resonator is a type that I have not encountered before. I do not know whether it came from the factory or was added later.

    All of the other hardware appears to me to be original except for the tailpiece.
    While the picture is not clear enough for me to say anything for certain about the tailpiece, I tend to believe that it is not original.

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  4. #3
    Registered User slimt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson Banjolin - Info, please!

    Thats a weird disc in the back. Does it mute the tone or project the tone differently. ?

  5. #4
    Registered User Timbofood's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson Banjolin - Info, please!

    And again, here we are in the land of “What did Gibson feel like doing different This week?” I have a trap door moccasin peg head which a member of my wife’s family made for his wife in 1919.
    Timothy F. Lewis
    "If brains was lard, that boy couldn't grease a very big skillet" J.D. Clampett

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  7. #5
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    Default Re: Gibson Banjolin - Info, please!

    It looks like a trapdoor pot, but as rcc56 says, I have not seen the "resonator" that is shown in the back shot.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

  8. #6

    Default Re: Gibson Banjolin - Info, please!

    OK, got the instrument and here are more photos. The tailpiece is certainly a home-brewed one. The resonator's wood looks exactly the same tone as the rim, so it makes me wonder if it has been there from the start? The shape might have some acoustic idea behind it perhaps? Anyway, I have cleaned the instrument, tighten up the head (thankfully the adjusting key was there) and put a fresh set of strings on. Gee, the old pal can sing. It sounds nice and crispy, just as expected from an old Gibson banjo. The action is a bit too high to my liking. I guess I need to find a lower bridge, as I don't want vandalizing the original one. There are couple of small cracks on the side of the fretboard (can be glued easily) and a couple of frets ideally to be changed, but apart from that it is in a surprisingly good condition for an exactly 100 years old instrument. If it was a proper mandolin I'd say it is a "Loar Era" one. I guess it doesn't apply to banjos though. Since I mostly play bowlback I'd be interested in a swap for a higher end bowlback mandolin potentially. PM me if interested. Thanks.
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  9. #7

    Default Re: Gibson Banjolin - Info, please!

    Re: action height. From my limited to one example experience of these things, (banjolin, not this one), the action should be easily adjusted at the tail end of the dowel, which is the wood extension of the neck, and other alignment is possible at the hardware opposite. You’d have to take the interesting resonator off to see how that works. The metal rod serves a different purpose. You’re probably right about the tailpiece, because the original was likely adjustable in height.
    The supposed resonator probably is one, and I like the concept and the execution, from appearance anyway. Tempted to stick a plate in my lathe and turn something similar using a beading chisel, and on plywood for color effects. I sometimes do things like that, and nobody thinks to stop me.

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  11. #8

    Default Re: Gibson Banjolin - Info, please!

    Just curious if the tuners are the same as on Gibson A style mandolins from the 1920's? Thanks

  12. #9
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    Default Re: Gibson Banjolin - Info, please!

    I might suggest to check to see the nut on the metal rod is tight to the neck, and the neck heel is tight to the rim. Also remember this is a banjo first and a mandolin second, don't use heavy strings. I use a 10-28 and buy two sets of tenor banjo strings. I get much better sound and it's not so stressful on the instrument. You could go up to a 32 on the G string, but no need to.

    The tuners look like they could be original to the instrument, but not the same as Gibson mandolin tuners.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

  13. #10

    Default Re: Gibson Banjolin - Info, please!

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    Last edited by MikeEdgerton; Jul-28-2022 at 5:48pm.

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