Gibson Tenor Resonator Banjo, circa 1970
We had a hard time pinning this model down, but our friends at Gibson Customer Service believe it’s most likely a late sixties to early seventies Gibson ‘varsity model’, which would have been supplied to an American college or university music faculty, as part of the company’s long-standing tradition of supporting music in schools.
Possibly a more economical version of the TB-100 model, with a Rosewood armrest in place of metal, metal-foil inlays on the Rosewood board, and a more cost-efficient Melody Maker-style headstock shape, it’s also feasible the banjo was made for Gibson by another manufacturer – the partial-flange mounting system is very reminiscent of that used on some older Ludwig models, as well as certain Kay models from the fifties and early sixties. Kay are known to have made instruments for both Ludwig and Gibson, so perhaps this top quality instrument ties in there somewhere…
At 5.6lb, (2.55kg), it has a good, solid heft to it, and plays extremely comfortably. It’s also VERY loud and tuneful, (very Gibson-like). Similar instruments were often set up in ukulele tuning, and used as a banjo-uke, although we suspect this particular model might be too loud for that – it really projects!
The resonator seems to be a solid Mahogany back on a laminated Maple and Mahogany rim; the tone-ring is nickel-plated; and as mentioned above, the arm-rest is Rosewood. As with so many old banjos, there’s been a hairline stress crack in the resonator rim, (barely visible in pic # 5), but it’s been professionally bonded some time ago, and is probably stronger now than when it left the factory.
A tenor banjo is usually 17 to 19 frets, while a plectrum model generally has 22. This one has 20 frets – BUT, just to be difficult, Gibson (and others, including Gretsch) made resonator plectrum-tenor models, such as the PB-100, varying from 19 to 21 frets. Whatever, it sounds fantastic, is an absolute pleasure to play, and ships in a near new hard shell case. “Get ya some banjo!”
Price: AUD$1075.00 GST Included