Vintage Instruments: Gibson Guitars

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1924 Gibson RB-3

An unbelievably rare banjo, this original 5-string RB-3 is a model we’ve only heard rumour of in the two decades since we opened. Original 5 string Gibson banjos from before WWII are beyond uncommon; and finding one that’s as complete and original as this RB-3 is particularly exciting. That it was a local find makes it even more special.

Apart from a replaced skin head this pre-war Gibson RB-3 is completely factory stock. The neck and frets are fairly unworn, the tuners work well, and the neck angle works perfectly with the instrument’s original tall bridge. It’s properly set-up and playable, but there are fret-buzzes in the first position due some back bow in the neck. We’ve not refretted the instrument in the name of originality, but would suggest some fretwork to eliminate the buzzes apparent on the bass-side of the first 5 frets.

The rim is 10.5” maple with ball-bearing tone-ring and trap-door resonator. Original five string maple neck with ebony fingerboard and original friction tuners. All hardware is original and in excellent condition, with the exception of the pickguard’s mounting nuts, which are new.

The instrument is with its original 5 string case, and in the case pocket you’ll find the original wrench, and an ancient photo of the instrument’s purported first owner.

A very special and unique banjo.

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