Gibson RB-170 5 String Banjo (1964)

Gibson  RB-170 5 String Banjo  (1964)
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Item # 9906
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Gibson RB-170 Model 5 String Banjo (1964), made in Kalamazoo, Michigan, serial # 156722, brown lacquer finish, laminated maple rim, mahogany neck with rosewood fingerboard, gig bag case.

The unadorned openback RB-170 was Gibson's "folk" banjo for the 1960's. It was introduced in 1960 quickly followed by a long-necked Seeger-style sister, the RB-175. With a plain brass tone ring in its openback rim, The RB-170 is more powerful than the "folk" banjos offered by Harmony or Kay popular at the time, but nowhere near as heavy or bright as a Bluegrass-approved Mastertone. This particular banjo dates to 1964, the peak production year when 322 were shipped from Kalamazoo. This model would have been a prime choice in a 5-string banjo for someone joining a folk group, but with a standard fingerboard, not the extended range neck popularized by Pete Seeger.

With an unbound dot inlaid neck and simple rim, the RB-170 is fairly austere instrument but classically Gibson in looks. It employs the simpler single co-ordinator rod system and is fitted with geared "pancake" tuning pegs and an adjustable tailpiece. This one has the 1960's style peghead, replaced by 1970 with a re-introduced version of the old 1920's "Fiddle Head". It offers a more rounded and mellow tone than a flat-head Mastertone, and so makes an excellent choice for upbeat old-time picking, folk styles and in a pinch bluegrass at polite volume levels! This is a very clean example, a very nice player and a fine all-around vintage Gibson banjo.
Overall length is 36 3/4 in. (93.3 cm.), 11 1/8 in. (28.3 cm.) diameter head, and 3 in. (7.6 cm.) in depth, measured at side of rim. Scale length is 26 1/4 in. (667 mm.). Width of nut is 1 1/4 in. (32 mm.).

This is a very clean and nicely original banjo, showing not too much play time since the folk boom! The head and bridge are newer, but everything else is original. There is only minor play wear overall, mostly to the nickel plating on the armrest. This is a great sounding and surprisingly underrated folk and old-time banjo from Gibson, not a Mastertone but still an excellent instrument for its intended purpose! Includes a more modern gig bag. Excellent + Condition.