The Twelfth Fret ~ Since 1977 ~

Gibson RB-18 Mastertone Top Tension 5-String Banjo Sunburst, 1996

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The Gibson RB-18 Mastertone ‘Top Tension’ banjo was originally built between 1937 and 1943, but only in small numbers. Low demand for high end instruments at the end of the Depression kept the numbers low, and a high demand for war materiels brough a hard stop. Only a few reissues were made between 1995 and the devastating Nashville flooding in 2006, which ended Gibson banjo production.

Here we’re looking at a wonderfully preserved Gibson RB-18 Mastertone ‘Top Tension’ 5-string banjo, with its gold plating unworn and the finish lightly checked from age. From the serial number, it appears to have been produced during June of 1996. The number breaks down as ‘RB’ for Regular Banjo – i.e. 5-string – ’18’ for the style, followed by two digits for the year (96) and two for the month (06). The last group of digits, a single number 7 in this case, is the production number for that model in that date period.

The RB-18 features the ‘Top Tension’ flange, which as the name suggests allows easy adjustment from the top, without dismantling the instrument. The tone ring is an 11 inch flathead. The resonator and neck are very nicely flamed maple and finished with a lacquer sunburst. All the metal hardware is gold plated and much of it is engraved, and the tuners have amber buttons that go very well with the finish. On these banjos, the rosewood fingerboard has a radius, so if you’re using a capo, it must also be curved.

In general, professional grade 5-string banjos are not light, simply because of the metals used. The top-tension design adds some more weight, bringing this banjo in to the 12.5 pound range. This does add clarity, brilliance and sustain.

This banjo is in very good condition and has recently been serviced. The original hard shell case is included.


 

Price: $7699.99 CAD
  • Model: RB-18
  • Year: 1996
  • Finish Sunburst
  • Class: Used
  • Serial Number: 18-9606-7
  • Country of Origin: USA
  • Condition: Very Good
  • Date Posted: 09/04/2018

  • Consignment Item

  • Including original Hard case
  • Instrument Weight: 12.5lbs 5.7kg
  • Scale Length: 670.6mm 26.4in
  • Nut Width: 31mm 1.22in
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