Dating gibson ukuleles
Thus a TB-5 was a tenor banjo with -5 grade fancy trimmings.
From 1925 to 1930, several fancy modes made their debut; the style -6 with fancy black-and-white binding (or sometimes gold-speckled binding); the TF or Florentine; the TG or Granada; the Bella Voce (which means “beautiful voice” in Italian); and the All American — an elaborate instrument with a carved eagle on the peghead.
(For a glimpse at the sequential development, see Chronology of Gibson Banjos.) Following are details of construction features that occurred during this period: Model designations: The banjo models were given letter codings to indicate the type of stringing: TB referred to a tenor banjo, PB stood for plectrum banjo, GB described a guitar banjo, MB was applied to a mandolin banjo, UB denoted a ukulele banjo, and RB indicate a regular (5-string) banjo.
The letters were followed by a number indicating the grade or quality of the instrument: -00 (double zero) was bottom of the line (although there was a short-lived “Jr.” model which was the least expensive); -0 was next; -1 was slightly better, and usually meant nickel plating and plain-colored finish; -11 (double 1) was a secondary inexpensive version; -2 followed with fancier inlays and extra binding; -3 was fancier; -4 fancier yet; and -5 (for a brief period) was the fanciest model boasting gold plating, choice curly maple, and elaborate inlay designs.
By selectively tightening the nuts at the tailpiece-end of the rods, the angle of the neck could be changed to adjust the neck’s angle.
Gibson’s first banjos had a nut on the top neck screw and only one rod on the lower neck screw.
If you’re lucky enough to have an old Gibson guitar tucked away and would like to know how to tell when it was built, here are some guidelines.
At one point, the lesser models had hex-shaped openings in the flange compared to the classic Mastertone arched opening with rounded ends.
The added mass of the fourth ply on tube-and plate rims contributed to the brightness and amplitude of these banjo models.
To the inexperienced observer, some rims appear to have been made of five thinner plies; but this is a misconception caused by a practice still in use today.
For detailed descriptions of banjo models, see Gibson Banjo Models Rims: Except for the very first Gibson banjos, all of the rims for this period have been made of steamed, rolled, and laminated maple.
Maple was selected for its superior bending qualities compared to other woods in it’s weight/mass class (cherry, oak, etc.) at approx 35-40 pounds per cubic foot.