A bluegrasser's holy grail
1933 RB-3

© Frank Ford, 2006; Photos by FF

Pretty much all hands agree that the original Gibson "flathead" is the epitome of the classic bluegrass tone. At a time when the Great Depression had the economy in a stranglehold, and the tenor banjo ruled the roost, Gibson made precious few five string banjos. This example is straight out of the time machine, having seen professional use and a good deal of wear decades ago. The finish is completely worn from the back of the neck, and the banjo sports its third set of frets.

Looking at the peghead, you'll notice a prominent 1/4" hole drilled by the banjo's original owner who stuck a nice big eye bolt in there to use as a strap holder. In those days, most players did not fasten straps to the bodies of their instruments, but hung them on the peghead. Body-mounted straps didn't come into general use until after World War II, when both Gibson and Fender started supplying electric guitars with strap buttons installed.

Please click the small images

Back to Museum Main Page

Back to Index Page