7/16/2016

1930/1960s Gibson TB-1 5-String Conversion Banjo





This is a customer's instrument and the story goes that it was hodge-podged back in the 60s! It appears to be a TB-1 (tenor banjo) rim (dated to 1930) with a replacement neck and cut-out, added-on archtop-style tonering.

The good bit? The work was done long-enough ago that all of the finish and wonk of a Frankenstein build looks rather authentic, in its bizarro-universe way. The best bit? After a quick-ish setup, it plays beautifully and has a dramatically-nice "resonator banjo" tone.


While the FiberSkyn head isn't my first choice, it does give the banjo a good fundamental, mellow tonality. I'd love to hear what this would sound like with a Renaissance head, though, to get back all those crisp highs!


The headstock veneer appears to have been borrowed from the original tenor-neck headstock. The nut is pearl and the truss cover is, obviously, a replacement.


The friction 5th peg leaves a bit to be desired -- but it works! I like the sliding, spring-loaded 5th-string capo, though -- that's a practical little add-on.


I left the missing fret for posterity, since I didn't have anything quite the right height around.


A new, compensated bridge is a nice addition, though! I like to hear things in-tune when I've got a capo on, myself...






The neck is cut very quick and thin -- sort of like what I'd expect from a 70s Iida or something like that.







The owner drilled all of the holes in the tonering himself (hee, hee).


This has a single coordinator-rod setup which makes it easy-peasy to adjust the action on-the-fly.

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