1/08/2012

c.1925 Gibson PB-JR Plectrum Banjo





This is a Gibson plectrum banjo from around 1927-ish. I don't have specific date but I believe these were made around 1927 or so. At any rate, it's built just like the MB-Jr ("mandolin banjo junior") and TB-Jr ("tenor banjo junior") models from around the same time, so my assumption is that this is the "plectrum banjo junior" model. Very few of these were built at the time (since tenor banjo was so popular) so there's not all that much information on them on the net.

My work on this instrument included a cleaning, installation of some replacement (in this case, expensive vintage 4:1 pancake tuners), new Remo Renaissance head, a new taller bridge, and setup.

The banjo itself is made from hard maple and painted black all over. The fretboard is a good solid slab of Brazilian rosewood with pearl dots in it, though, and features a full 2-octave scale for each string.




Original ebony nut, shimmed up. Note the filled hole in the middle of the headstock. I had converted this to a 5-string for a time but reconverted it back to a plectrum just recently (I enjoy it more as a plec but the conversion played and sounded nice, too!).


This has the distinctive Gibson "snakehead" shaped headstock.


The Remo head looks gorgeous and sounds even better.




Note the double coordinator rods. This makes neck adjustment really easy and the overall construction very sturdy.


Here are those prized 4:1 vintage '20s tuners. These make tuning far easier and more stable than the traditional 1:1 friction pegs.



There's the Gib label.







Note the super-nice armrest.

Also note that all the hardware is original and in good shape save the tuners, bridge, and head.



This banjo plays beautifully, sounds wonderful, and is a really interesting find. There are a number of ways to tune plectrum within the standard plectrum stringing -- CGBD (standard), DGBE ("Chicago" or guitar-style), CGCE (open C which is pretty), DGBD (like 5-string banjo minus the drone) -- which means there are a lot of good choices just right there.

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