Gibson MB-1 Mandolin Banjo (1933)

Gibson  MB-1 Mandolin Banjo  (1933)
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Item # 9182
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Gibson MB-1 Model Mandolin Banjo (1933), made in Kalamazoo, Michigan, serial # 489-4, brown lacquer finish, maple rim and neck, rosewood fingerboard, original black hard shell case.

Gibson's MB-1 Mandolin-banjo was a fairly low grade instrument, but in the depths of the depression this sort of thing is what kept Gibson going. It still sold in 1933 for the fairly hearty sum of $50.00 *Plus* $9.50 for the case which was a lot of money at the time. The model does have many of the era's professional-grade features: the full flange and arched back resonator perfected in the 1920's and Gibson's extremely successful single coordinator rod to adjust neck angle. The rim has conventional shoes and a plate flange instead of the bluegrass-mythic one-piece cast flange of the time. The tone ring is a simple brass hoop. The headstock has a plain silkscreen Gibson logo and simple openback tuners.

Mandolin banjos were pretty much fallen out of fashion by this point, so this is a fairly rare find in this period. "an instrument full of pep, snap and personality" offered the 1934 Gibson catalog. "No banjo band is complete without this brilliant soprano instrument". That may be so, but the banjo band was itself losing pep in the early swing era, so demand for all banjos was ebbing fast. This is a very nice instrument of its type, more elaborate than many and built to Gibsons excellent pre-war standards. This is a superb example that does not seem to have seen much use at all, still waiting to add that pep to the 21st century.

 
Overall length is 25 in. (63.5 cm.), 10 1/2 in. (26.7 cm.) diameter head, and 3 1/4 in. (8.3 cm.) in depth, measured at side of rim. Scale length is 13 7/8 in. (352 mm.). Width of nut is 1 1/8 in. (29 mm.).

This is a lovely clean, original example. There is light wear to the finish and plating but no signs of heavy use. The finish has some minor scuffs and dings but for 80+ years is very well preserved. The armrest has a spot down to the brass on the inside edge. All hardware is original and complete except it is set up with a modern plastic head and older but not Gibson-style carved maple bridge. The original frets show some wear but still play fine. This is a very loud instrument, but not as shrill as some "manjos" can be. Complete in the original HSC with some old Black Diamond string packets, which are always good mojo. Excellent + Condition.