|1955 Gibson Mastertone "Bowtie"
The Gibson Banjo styles 150, 250, and 500 that were made from 1949 until the late 1960's sported art-deco "bowtie" inlays and a "Flyswatter" headstock shape. This look seems to be a love-it or hate-it styling.
Here is a database of "bowtie-era" serial numbers that I have collected over the years:
Here is a chart of the yearly shipments of Gibson Banjos from 1948 to 1979:
|Note the location of the
Mastertone Block and the thin
bowtie inlay at the 22nd fret.
Compare this to the one from
the mid-1960's at the bottom
of the page.
|Ahhhh... Old Brazilian Rosewood.
Beautiful stuff. The friction
5th-string tuner... well, no so
beautiful when it comes to
function. What a pain!
Sometimes older is NOT better.
Same for calf skin heads:
|Here is a nice RB250 from about 1963
|Interesting things to note about this "Bowtie" are the Brazilian Rosewood fingerboard, and the full-thickness rim.
The rim has the appearance of 5 plies, but it actually is a 3-ply rim that has been "touched-up" with filler strips
to cover up the glue joints. This tactic was also used on many Pre-war gibson rims to cover up cosmetic flaws
in the glue joints. The guitar-like wide frets are also indicative of the late 50's and early 60's Mastertones.
|1966 Gibson RB250 Bowtie
|Here are some pictures of a Mid-1960's bowtie that I once owned. This was a nicely made banjo, with a
full-thickness rim. Most of the bowties of that period had the thin 1/2" rims, and the flathead tonering hung over the
iniside edge of the rim! This one was also unusual because it had four resonator thumscrews instead of the usual
three, and two coordinator rods instead of the usual one. The hardware is all chrome, the board is ebony, and it
has the factory Kluson D-tuners.