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Index to Vintage Gibson Banjo Serial Number Information


Here you will find the Pre-War serial numbers divided into 3 groups, starting with serial number 8000 in 1925.

Note: Date ranges listed here are approximate, as the batch numbers were many times used out of sequence.  You can tell a lot by noting the actual ship-dates where they are available.  If you have an old banjo and a verifiable ship-date, please contact me!  Every point of data helps progress our knowledge about this important time in banjo history.

Please send me an email if you have any comments, corrections, or if you wish to contribute any information or pictures.  Thanks!

dan "at" banjophiles. com

NOTE: The date ranges below have been updated to reflect recent documentation that points to earlier production dates for banjos in the 9000-9999 and 1-300 ranges.

 8XXX    These include the first Mastertones.... from the Ball Bearings to the 40-hole archtops. 
About 1925 to 1926, the peak of Jazz era - and peak banjo production!

9XXX     This series goes from about 1927 to 1929, where the one-piece flange and flat head tone ring originated.

1X and Up   These begin about 1931 and continue up to the end of the pre-war production. 
Most of these banjos are documented in the hand-written Gibson shipping ledgers which survive to this day.  Although these records have been kept secret since the 1940's, there is work currently being done to compile and publish this data in the near future.  This will certainly add to our understanding of the banjo production and history of the pre-war period! 












With the database of known serial-numbered banjos at hand, we can do some fun analyses! 

Here is a re-cap of all the known RB- Flatheads by style (as of 1/1/2010):

Analysis of Pre-war 5-string Flathead Banjos
Style Tonering Neck Known
3 Flathead RB 23
4 Flathead RB 12
5 Flathead RB 1
7 Flathead RB 3
12 Flathead RB 7
18 Flathead RB 2
75 Flathead RB 31
Granada Flathead RB 18
Grand Total 97


As you can see, the vast majority of these desirable vintage banjos were actually styles 3 and 75, the low-end of the 1930's Gibson Banjo Product line

Here is a listing of information on the "Bowtie Era" Gibson Banjos:

Post War Gibson Serial Numbers 

These are some interesting vintage Gibson banjos, from 1948 through the 1960's. (Let's not talk about the 1970's and early '80's, OK?)

There are many "gaps" in the batch runs, as far as the "known" banjos as of today.  If you know anything about these banjos: Looking for Banjos with Serial Number , I would be delighted to hear from you - click here: Information on Gibson Serial number.  Attach photos if you have some.