Gibson is an iconic American brand that has been crafting musical instruments since 1894. But when did Gibson stop making banjos? Banjos have been an important part of the Gibson legacy since the early days, but in recent years the company has shifted away from this instrument. In this article, I will explore the history of Gibson’s banjo making, and why the company decided to stop crafting this iconic instrument.
History of Gibson
- Gibson was founded in 1902 by Orville Gibson, who began making mandolins in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
- In 1918, Gibson was acquired by Chicago Musical Instruments, which also owned Epiphone.
- Gibson opened a factory in Nashville, Tennessee in 1984.
- In the 1990s, Gibson launched the Acoustic-Electric line of banjos.
- Gibson stopped production of its banjos in 1992 due to declining demand.
- Gibson began to focus on its electric guitar and bass lines.
Types of Gibson Banjos
- Flat Top Banjos – an open-back banjo with a flat top rim, a metal pot rim, and a resonator.
- Round Top Banjos – an open-back banjo with a round top rim, a metal pot rim, and a resonator.
- Gibson Mastertone Banjos – a higher-end banjo with a three-ply maple shell, a metal pot rim, and a resonator.
- Gibson Mastertone Special Banjos – a higher-end banjo with a three-ply maple shell, a metal pot rim, and a resonator.
- Gibson Mastertone Custom Banjos – a higher-end banjo with a three-ply maple shell, a metal pot rim, and a resonator.
- Gibson Super 400 Banjos – a top-of-the-line banjo with a three-ply maple shell, a metal pot rim, and a resonator.
- Gibson Super 400 Custom Banjos – a top-of-the-line banjo with a three-ply maple shell, a metal pot rim, and a resonator.
- Gibson Super 400 Deluxe Banjos – a top-of-the-line banjo with a three-ply maple shell, a metal pot rim, and a resonator.
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Reasons Why Gibson Stopped Making Banjos
|1962||Gibson introduced their line of electric guitars and basses, which began to dominate the market.|
|1975||Gibson stopped making banjos due to the rising cost of raw materials and changing consumer tastes.|
|1990s||Gibson stopped making banjos completely as the popularity of bluegrass and folk music began to decline.|
Gibson’s banjo production began in the 1920s and peaked in the 1940s and 1950s. By the 1960s, however, Gibson began to focus more on their electric guitar and bass lines. As a result, their banjo production suffered significantly and the company decided to stop making banjos in 1975. This was mainly due to the rising cost of raw materials and changing consumer tastes.
In the 1990s, Gibson stopped making banjos completely as the popularity of bluegrass and folk music began to decline. Gibson has since shifted its focus to producing electric guitars and basses, leaving banjo production behind.
Effects on the Banjo Market
- Decrease in production of high-quality banjos
- Less variety of models to choose from
- Rise in prices of Gibson-branded banjos
- Decline in popularity of banjos, as production is no longer supported
- Competition from other brands of banjos
- Loss of reputation for producing top-of-the-line banjos
Impact on Gibson’s Reputation
|Gibson discontinued banjo production||Gibson lost a part of its traditional sound and loyal fan base.|
|Gibson filed for bankruptcy||Gibson’s reputation for quality and reliability was damaged.|
|Gibson was accused of stealing designs||Gibson’s reputation as an innovator was tarnished.|
Gibson’s reputation for quality and reliability has been damaged by the company’s financial struggles, the discontinuation of banjo production, and accusations that it stole designs from competitors. As a result, the company’s reputation as an innovator has been tarnished. The discontinuation of banjo production also caused Gibson to lose a part of its traditional sound and loyal fan base.
Alternatives to Gibson Banjos
Gibson stopped making banjos in the late 1990s, but there are still many great banjo brands that produce quality instruments. Deering, Gold Tone, Nechville, and Recording King are a few of the most popular options. Many of these manufacturers specialize in reproducing classic designs, while also creating custom instruments with unique features. Deering produces a variety of banjos, from entry-level models to top-of-the-line professional instruments. Gold Tone is renowned for their reproduction banjos, which are based on classic pre-war designs. Nechville produces modern banjos with innovative features such as adjustable necks and planetary tuners. Recording King offers their own range of traditional instruments, as well as modern models with modern features. All of these brands offer a great selection of banjos, so you’re sure to find something that meets your needs.
Gibson’s Reemergence in the Banjo Market
|1939||Gibson stops producing banjos.|
|1989||Gibson re-enters the banjo market with the Mastertone model.|
|1999||Gibson introduces the Earl Scruggs Standard model.|
|2003||Gibson begins manufacturing the Mastertone line of banjos.|
|2006||Gibson begins producing the Earl Scruggs Gold Star banjo.|
|2008||Gibson releases the Earl Scruggs banjo line.|
|2015||Gibson releases the Earl Scruggs Mastertone banjo.|
After a 50-year absence from the banjo market, Gibson re-entered it in 1989 with the release of the Mastertone model. This model was followed in 1999 by the Earl Scruggs Standard model and in 2003 by the Mastertone line. In 2006, Gibson began producing the Earl Scruggs Gold Star banjo, and in 2008 they released the Earl Scruggs banjo line. The most recent release was the Earl Scruggs Mastertone banjo in 2015.
Frequently Asked Questions
How many years has Gibson been crafting banjos?
Gibson has been crafting banjos since the late 1800s, and their banjos have been highly sought after since their inception. Their banjos have been used by some of the most influential musicians of all time, and they remain a staple of bluegrass and folk music today. Gibson stopped producing banjos in 2018 after 120 years of production, but the legacy of their banjos lives on.
What iconic banjos did Gibson make?
Gibson made several iconic banjos from the early 1900s to the late 1970s, such as the RB-1, RB-2, RB-3, RB-4, RB-100, RB-250, and the Granada. These models featured many improvements over earlier banjos and had a wide appeal for bluegrass, jazz, and country music. The RB-1 was one of the most popular models, with a mahogany neck, rosewood fingerboard, and a flathead tone ring. The RB-3 was the first Gibson banjo to incorporate a Mastertone tone ring, which was later used on many of the company’s later models. The RB-4 was one of the most expensive models, featuring a maple neck and resonator, and a carved tone ring. The Granada was a top-of-the-line model, with a hand-engraved metal flange and a one-piece flange.
What other instruments does Gibson currently make?
Gibson currently manufactures a wide variety of stringed instruments, including electric and acoustic guitars, basses, mandolins, banjos, and ukuleles. Gibson also produces amplifiers, pro audio equipment, and accessories. In addition, Gibson also manufactures a range of lifestyle products such as apparel, barware, and related items.
What Materials Are Used in Gibson’s Banjos?
Gibson’s banjos are renowned for their quality craftsmanship and use of premium materials. The majority of the banjos are crafted with a combination of maple and ebony wood, with some models featuring mahogany and rosewood. The neck is usually maple with an ebony fingerboard. The tone ring is typically hardwood and the head is usually calfskin or plastic. The tension hoop is often made of cast zinc or brass and the tailpiece is usually nickel-plated.
Does Gibson still provide repairs for banjos it has stopped making?
Gibson ceased production of banjos in the early 1980s, however they still offer repair services for their discontinued banjos. Gibson’s repair services are available through authorized Gibson dealers. Customers can also contact Gibson directly to inquire about repair services.
Gibson’s iconic banjos were crafted until the 1940s when they began to shift focus to other instruments, such as the acoustic guitar and electric guitar. The banjo line was discontinued by the company in the late 1970s, but the instruments remain popular today with vintage and custom models still available.