Gibson GB-1 Guitar Banjo (1927)

Gibson  GB-1 Guitar Banjo  (1927)

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Item # 8102
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Gibson GB-1 Model Guitar Banjo (1927), made in Kalamazoo, Michigan, serial # 8848-4, brown lacquer finish, laminated maple rim; maple neck with ebony fingerboard, original black hard shell case.

Here is a nice example of one of the Gibson company's more elusive creations: a six-string Mastertone-era banjo. This is a fairly rare instrument, even more so than the company's earlier "trap door"-style large-rim guitar banjos built prior to 1925. This one carries a factory order number from 8848-4 stamped in the rim and marked on the resonator internally in white paint, indicating it was the 4th one in a batch built in mid-1927.

Very few batches of these were assembled in any given year, as the tenor banjo was by far the best seller. The GB-1 six-string banjo is built on the standard 11" Mastertone-style rim but without any of Gibson's elaborate tone rings, just a simple solid metal hoop-like ring sitting atop the rim. The model is basically equivalent to the TB-1 tenor from the same year. It carries the older-style two-piece tube-and-plate flange that would be superseded in a couple of years by the cast one-piece unit. The sound on this banjo is mellower than a Mastertone, still fairly loud but with less overring and snap.

The neck is a substantial round-backed affair with a bound dot inlaid ebony fingerboard and a guitar-shaped headstock with "The Gibson" in silver paint script. The headstock carries six Grover Simplex non-geared tuners and the typical Gibson truss rod. This GB-I was the less expensive sister to the Mastertone GB-3 that early country fingerpicker Sam McGee used to back Uncle Dave Macon and record several of his most famous pieces, and is basically the same instrument minus the elaborate tone ring.

In more recent times, the Gibson six-string banjo is most often associated with Neil Young. The GB-1 is a cool Gibson rarity and still one of the best Banjo-guitars extant. This is a good playing example and makes a fine "Git-jo" for a variety of styles.
Overall length is 36 3/8 in. (92.4 cm.), 11 in. (27.9 cm.) diameter head, and 3 1/2 in. (8.9 cm.) in depth, measured at side of rim. Scale length is 25 in. (635 mm.). Width of nut is 1 13/16 in. (46 mm.).

This GB shows some wear but overall remains a nicely original piece. The first three frets have been replaced with matching wire but some previous work in that area left some light scarring on the fretboard which has been filled in. There is finish wear overall, most notably to the back of the neck in several spots. All the hardware is original, including the Kersher tailpiece and non-geared tuners. The bridge is a nicely made oddity with a bone saddle, but the instrument sounds good so we left it in place. Set up with a fiberskyn head; plays great with a nice old-timey plunk very different from its Mastertone cousins. Includes a nice if well-worn original HSC. Excellent - Condition.