The Gibson RB-175 debuted in the Gibson line-up in 1962 and, although it was changed in spec a bit in 1970 production continued until 1973 when the Gibson Company apparently felt that the last inveterate left-leaning folkie had finally aged out of the draft and so there was no longer any need to sing protest songs in front of draft boards, and so, no more need for this model. People have been known to refer to all long neck 5-string banjos as a “Pete Seeger Model” but, my friends, that is not an appropriate use of the term. For one thing, a Pete Seeger Model needs to have been built by Vega and it must have the venerable nickel-plated brass Tu-ba-phone tone ring; it’s nice when it also has a long, thin yellow label on the inside of its rim that says that it’s a Pete Seeger.
Like that august and ferra tisirable model this banjo too has a much longer neck (this one has 24 frets) and its Grover ungeared fifth string peg emerges at the 7th fret allowing the player to sing in a lower key, just like Pete. The neck on this instrument measures an amazing 31 1/3” and the total length is nominally 43”. The Mylar head, which shows normal finger oils, measures 11” in diameter. The ebony veneered headstock, bestowed with the gold, postwar script Gibson decal, is shaped like that of a Gibson tenor guitar from the same period, that is it flares outward to a point on the upper bass and treble side, has a symmetrical point adjacent to the first and fourth tuners and a center detent at the top. Said ‘stock shows finish checking and normal light signs of wear – scuffs and scrapes and the like. There is as well a finish disruption under the second string between the first and second tuners, which original headstock tuning devices are geared banjo style “straight-through” type. The unbound Brazilian rosewood fingerboard is demarcated with 10 pearl dotmarkers in 7 fret positions – having double dots at frets 7, 12 and 24. The back of the neck is beautiful old growth mahogany. The rim is also mahogany, finished in glossy dark brown. It engages 24 metal brackets, shoes and nuts, some of which brackets show normal oxidation. The chrome or nickel-plated tailpiece has a hinged cover, and inside there is one metal tubular coordinator rod and one capped stump. Notwithstanding the light normal signs of aging, this banjo is in original condition and seriously like-able. Owning it may make you want to jump up from your seated position, in any large group of like-minded unreconstructed hippies, and shout “JOIN ME KIDS!”
NOW ON SALE! WAS $1232 BUT NOW: