6/21/2018

1923 Gibson TB-Jr Tenor Banjo (Banjo-Uke Setup)




A customer of mine was initially looking for a concert banjo uke and after back-and-forthing about what he was sort-of after and sending long lists of eBay and Reverb ads for him to check-out, he grabbed this lovely old, lived-in Gibson TB-Jr (tenor banjo junior model) and had it sent here for sprucing-up. I'm a fan of these trap-door Gibsons because they're a little more compact and woody-sounding than a lot of tenor banjos and they work very well as adaptations to "baritone banjo ukes" and have the benefit of factory geared tuners, too.

Work included a fret level/dress, cleaning, regluing one "ear" at the headstock, resoldering the string downpressure bar of the tailpiece, side dots install, fitting a new bridge, getting the coordinator rod working like it's supposed to (someone had mis-installed it at some point), replacing the "trap door latch" gizmo, and setting it up. I'm happy with the results and I have it strung in low-G GCEA uke tuning at the moment, though I've supplied the owner with strings to take it to high-G as well as a backup set, too. Said strings are Aquila Nylgut and their "regular/light" 5-string set.

Specs are: 19" scale, 1 1/8" nut width, 31/32" string spacing at the nut, 1 3/8" spacing at the bridge, 10 1/2" head, 2 7/8" depth. The neck is straight and action is dialed to 1/16" at the 12th fret, though coordinator rod adjustments (or a taller bridge -- this one is a standard 1/2" height) make it easy to dial it up or down. It's all-original except for my new trap door latch and the bridge.



Random micro-paint-speckles tell me this probably lived in a garage at some point!


This has pearl dots in the board. Said board is ebony and the neck seems to be maple.


Gotta love having an extension of the board!





Note the moved-over tuner screw at the bottom-right: the headstock "ear" on that side had separated due to the screwhole mount being located directly on its seam. Since installing the screw there again would just split the seam again down the road, I moved it over. Perhaps it's a crime, but it's a necessary one.


I love how much wear that neck has!



Hee's my ungainly, scrap-brass trap door latch gizmo. With it turned this way it has a "scissors-grip" to hold  the door away from the body via grabbing the coordinator rod. If you turn it the other way (after disengaging it and closing the door) it'll latch the resonator door shut.

I like the mellower sound in the "shut" position, but it can be nice to have the extra oomph with it open from time to time.



The factory order number places this at 1923.



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