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‘Gibson Mastertone’ Banjo Clone SOLD

November 26, 2011
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Serial Number N/A
Pricing $1350 CND with case. SOLD
Neck AAA Flame maple neck with bound ebony board, mother of pearl ‘hearts and flowers’ inlay.
Frets Recently refretted: frets show zero wear
Body AAA Flame maple resonator, Maple 3 ply rim.
Authentic Gibson flat-head bonze tone ring with Gibson logo; 1 piece flange and presto tailpiece
Finish Nitrocellulose lacquer finish showing very minor wear: condition 9 out of 10
Hardware/electronics Authentic Gibson flat-head bonze tone ring with Gibson logo, Premium grade Bill Keith stainless-steel tuners
Playability/Action The banjo is fully set up, head tensioned to G#, action set standard at 5/64 but we are happy to setup to suit.
Case Standard Japanese hardshell case
Comments During the 1970s and 80s there were a number of master Luthiers building replicas of Gibson banjos. Real Gibsons were in short supply and many felt the quality was not up to standards so many of these makers made a living building these lovely handmade copies at knock down prices compared to a new Gibson Mastertone. 

I see perhaps 4 or 5 a year come through The Twelfth Fret over the past 35 years; they are surprisingly common. Most owners are aware they have a copy and not the “real thing” but sometimes they can be in for a shock; though generally these instruments are arguably better made than the production banjos from Gibson, they are worth far less that the true Mastertone banjos.

I see them as a great way for players on a limited budget to get a really fine instrument into their hands.

They retain value well and are built with only the best of materials so at the price, they make an excellent buy.

For the experienced eye, there are a number of “tells” that indicate it is a copy, namely: -the script on the Gibson logo and the Mastertone inlay is slightly off. – The binding is Ivoroid rather than plain plastic…lovely binding but not authentic. – there is no serial number and label on the rim inside the pot. – finish on the 3 ply rim is not the same gloss lacquer one normally sees.

The banjo is fully set up, head tensioned to G#, action set standard at 5/64 but we are happy to setup to suit. Tone is classic Gibson; big attack; “cluck” or “crack” with fast decay. Clear round trebles with typical Gibson bass response.


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