Dating gibson mastertone banjos

When I first started out collecting in the mid-1960s, it was virtually unheard of to see copies of Martin guitars, Gibson mandolins or Fender and Gibson electric guitars because the originals were readily available and relatively cheap.

The first evidence I encountered of copies was of renecked Gibson Mastertone banjos.

After World War II five-strings became popular due to bluegrass while the Dixieland music which utilized tenor and plectrum banjos went into eclipse.

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The Nashville shop, located just by the banks of the Cumberland near the Grand Ole Opry House, was completely destroyed by the flood.There were not nearly so many sources during the 1960s for replica banjo parts as there are today, but it was not uncommon by the late 1960s to see supposed pre-World War II five string Gibson Mastertones which in fact had no genuine prewar component parts at all.Fortunately for me it was not difficult at that time to determine altered or fake instruments from original since no one yet was doing workmanship which to a critical eye would truly pass for original, but some of the better craftsmen of the mid to late 1960s were doing remarkably good inlay and carving.In 1968 Mike went to work for Martin and continued to work there for many years thereafter. Unfortunately some other craftsman doing this work went as far as to alter the model number and serial number stamps on the neck block of the guitar, occasionally even copying serial numbers of known genuine D-45 guitars.Since these instruments were genuine Martin guitars which had been altered, the workmanship of the instrument could look very real, but the ornamental work to an experienced eye still differed from the pre-World War II genuine D-45 and the overall dimensions and specifications of a 1950s or 1960s D-28 altered to have ornamental specifications of a prewar D-45 still would not conform to the genuine 1930s original in exterior or interior specifications of dimensions and craftsmanship.

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