#117984, formerly owned and played by noted folk musician Hedy West, in very good condition with apparently original hard shell case.
Gibson for some reason named their immediately post-war series of banjos with
the word “Style” instead of “RB” as they did the prewar line. This model was
produced, during the period of the great folk boom, in order to directly compete
with Vega’s extremely popular “Pete Seeger.” The Gibson version has the center
detent guitar-style headstock with the “Gibson” postwar script logo inlaid in
mother-of-pearl, having the Gibson crown or flower thereunder. Below that is
the black bell-shaped truss rod cover held in place by twin Phillips screws.
The comely Brazilian rosewood fingerboard is inlaid with 10 pearl dotmarkers in
7 positions starting at the 6th fret (interestingly) and the fifth
string is introduced at the 7th fret with the fifth string nut
positioned at the 8th. The double dot appears at the
10th fret, then again at the `15th and lastly at the last
fret which is the 25th. This extremely long neck (scale length
around 32 1/8”) is bound in crème on two sides. The Style 180 is essentially
the same as the Style 175 long-neck but with the addition of the fully
nickel-plated Mastertone 20-hole flathead tone ring. The pot has 24 brackets
and the head diameter is the standard 11”. It has a Gibson banjo armrest and
flip-open unsigned tailpiece, both nickel-plated. The head is Fiberskyn type
and is stained, in the normal fashion, with Ms. West’s DNA. The instrument
shows normal signs of use and playing wear – small chips here and there
including the edges of the headstock, finish checking, string changing marks,
nicks and scratches overall, some rust on the brackets, some minor cloudiness on
the nickel-plated parts. The neck is dead straight and the frets are low but
quite playable. The instrument is suitable for professional use and the person
that gets to own it would be in possession of an extremely important piece of
American musical history since Hedy West is a beloved constituent of the fabric
of the folk revival.
Here, in part, is what
Wikipedia says (but the entire article is worth reading): “Hedy West
(April 6, 1938 - July 3, 2005) was an American folksinger and songwriter. West
was of the same generation as Joan Baez, Judy Collins, and others of the
American folk music revival. Her most famous song "500 Miles" is one of
America's best loved and best known
folk songs. She was described by the English folk musician AL Lloyd as "far and
away the best of American girl singers in the [folk] revival.” She was born
Hedwig Grace West in the mountains of northern Georgia in 1938.
Her father, Don West, was a coal mine labor organizer in the 1930s; his bitter
experiences included seeing a close friend machine-gunned on the street by
company goons in the presence of a young daughter. Later, he operated the
Appalachian South Folklife Center in Pipestem, West
Virginia. Many of Hedy's songs, including the raw
materials for "500 Miles," came from her paternal grandmother, Lily West, who
passed on the songs she had learned as a child.”
This banjo features
replaced unsigned Planetary-style matching geared tuners on the headstock, each
with a large pearloid button and an adjustable large screw at the back of the
button; the fifth style peg is “Kroll” type with pearloid large button. The
back of the neck is maple stained a see-through dark brown, and the rim is
finished in black. There are small scratches on the treble side of the neck
heel where a strap once hung, and Ms. West apparently scratched the following
enigmatic numerical series lightly into the rim: “12433.” The interior of the
rim has one coordinator rod. Although this model was made with a standard
volute (hand stop) carved into the back of the neck behind the nut, because it
was manufactured only from 1961 to 1967 the serial number can be interpreted
only as 1963. The description of the model is usually said to be based on a
Style 175 (RB-175) Gibson plus the addition of that esteemed tone ring. The
difference derived from having a Mastertone 20-hole flathead tone ring in a
long-neck open back is enormous: it provisions the banjo punch, power and
plectral pulchritude. You probably know that Gibson had called its tone ring
(this flathead version first emerged around 1933) “Mastertone” in order to
compete with Vega’s “Tubaphone” (originally spelled with dashes). For many
players, the hyper-masculine, testosteronic, muscular, mesomorphic brawn turns
this into a Pete Seeger on steroids if such a concept can even be imagined.
And it was Hedy West’s banjo! Playing it will make your day; owning it can
change your life.
Our Discount Price is $2,056.00 and Our Cash Discount Price is $1,995.00.
Sorry, this item has been sold.
You may still add it to your want list, and we will contact you if your desired
instrument comes in!
Additional Photos (click for expanded view)