1925 Gibson MB-JR Banjo Mandolin

Gibson's "Junior" series of banjos are all great-sounding, rugged, practical, and low-on-the-radar instruments. This MB-Jr fits that description and it's cute as well -- with a 9" rim, longer 14" scale, and heavy-duty hardware (including single coordinator-rod construction). It's no-frills and gets the job done.

A customer sent this in for repair a while ago and it got a new head, new bridge, fret level/dress, and general setup (with GHS A240 32w-9 strings). It's playing spot-on and the coordinator rod design means action is adjustable on-the-fly (something useful to have with a skin head installed).

I had to use a new skin head because at this rim size, Remo custom heads are the only option and it takes forever to order and receive one -- not to mention the cost component of that. I like to use thicker skin heads on banjo mandos as they tend to hold the tension a bit better and bring down the ringiness of the instrument.

The "paddle teardrop" headstock is a fun touch. The ebony board and nut are both in good shape.

I'm guessing that because of the instrument's size and 12th-fret neck joint choice, there are only 15 frets on it.

The mellow sound of the instrument and the low bridge placement meant that I could get away with a standard banjo-style bridge re-slotted and compensated for mandolin tuning.

Here you can see that multi-ply maple rim and single coordinator-rod setup.

A period case (probably non-original?) came with it to the shop.