Gibson MB-Junior Mandolin Banjo (1925)

Gibson  MB-Junior Mandolin Banjo  (1925)
This item has been sold.
Item # 11537
Prices subject to change without notice.
Gibson MB-Junior Model Mandolin Banjo (1925), made in Kalamazoo, Michigan, serial # 11218A-38, black lacquer finish, maple rim and neck, original black hard shell case.

This raucous little twanger is an early 1925 Gibson Mastertone-era MB-Junior mandolin banjo, one of the least expensive instruments Gibson offered. This is from the transitional period between the earlier "trapdoor" banjos and the later "Mastertone" models, though this very simple creation has few of the feature of either! Indeed this ebony-finished Junior is about as simple as Gibson got, but really with a mandolin banjo it does not seem to make a lot of difference, they sound about the same at either end of the scale.

The MB-Junior is very plain in appearance but still has some "Gibson" specific features. It is finished in black overall, with no logo but a special "Gibson Junior" label inside the rim. There is no tone ring, the head rests directly on the wooden rim. It does sport the patented single coordinator rod to adjust neck angle, a very handy feature unique to Gibson at the time and still working perfectly. The rim is plain with a traditional hook/nut/shoe construction without the bearing tube seen on most Gibsons. The headstock has the curvy "snakehead" profile Gibson used just around this time. The fairly thin laminated maple rim is just over 9" in diameter so this is a handy little player, less brash than some 8-strings due to the lower metal content in the rim!

This particular MB-Junior was made early 1925 and first sold on October 2nd of that year. We can tell you this because the original hand filled-in receipt is included, signed by Emma M. Murr who was a well known Gibson teacher/agent in White Plains NY. This is itself a fantastic piece of Gibson ephemera, pre-printed with a small illustration of an F-4 Mandolin on the right side. We have never seen one of these company-issued Gibson retail receipts from this period before. This instrument cost a certain Miss Schumway $53.50 in 1925, which seems like a pretty high price for this basic model banjo-mandolin; maybe a course of lessons was included.

While probably not what Miss Schumway planned to play on it the MB-Junior is particularly suitable for jug band combos or early blues styles and a neat double for any mandolinist, just as Gibson intended. This one has survived nearly 100 years in exceptional condition so we wonder if she even got much use out of it! A nice collection of mostly period picks is included in the original case as well.
Overall length is 23 3/4 in. (60.3 cm.), 9 1/4 in. (23.5 cm.) diameter head, and 2 1/2 in. (6.4 cm.) in depth, measured at side of rim. Scale length is 14 in. (356 mm.). Width of nut is 1 1/16 in. (27 mm.).

This nearly 100 year old instrument remains in excellent original condition with just some very minor wear. The all-original finish has only very minor disturbances, as does the plating. Someone moved the tailpiece slightly upwards once long ago, leaving an extra hole in the rim now underneath the piece itself which is visible from the inside; other than this the instrument remains unaltered original. It is set up with an old skin head and the original carved two-footed maple bridge. The original frets show some divoting in the lower positions, but it still plays well. It still lives in the nice original green-lined HSC with its original receipt and picks, a cool if unpretentious Gibson time capsule. Excellent + Condition.