Top Tensions


Gibson came up with an ingenious improvement in banjo design in 1937, making the head-tension adjustment screws accessible from the front or top of the head, which made it possible to adjust the tension on the head of the banjo without removing the resonator. While that innovation never really caught on, there were two earlier Gibson innovations that were standard equipment on the top top-tensions - the flat-head tone ring with one-piece flange. It was that rare combination of equipment that gave Earl Scruggs' five-string Granada its power and tone. (Need we say more?)

The top tensions - Styles 7, 12 and 18 - are also unique among Gibson banjos in that their two-piece resonators are carved from solid wood rather than laminated. Gruhn Guitars has several fine examples of these highly sought Gibsons:

JA5554 Gibson top tension Mastertone banjo, original late 1930s rim, tone ring, tension hoop, brackets, and flange (a fully original genuine unaltered flat head top tension assembly obtained from a Gibson employee of 1940-70), First Quality Banjos replica neck and resonator, modern Presto tailpiece, First Quality vintage replica armrest, looks, feels, and sounds like an original pre-World War II RB-12, HC......$50,000
Full front
Body
Label
Fingerboard
Headstock
Back of neck
Resonator
Full back

JA5527 Gibson RB-7 original five-string, circa 1937, VG+, refretted, replacement modern two-band V2 Waverly tuners, replacement armrest, exceptionally fine sound, hard case, please call for price.
Full front
Fingerboard
Headstock
Back of headstock
Back of neck
Resonator
Full back

JE2808 Gibson TB-12 tenor, circa 1937, EXC, top tension, flat head, hard case......$80,000
Full front
Body
Tailpiece
Rim
Fingerboard
Headstock
Back of neck
Resonator
Full back

JE2806 Gibson TB-18 tenor, circa 1937, EXC (minor normal wear), maple neck and resonator, top tension, original flat head, original detachable mute, gold plated engraved hardware, hard case......$85,000
Full front
Body
Tailpiece
Fingerboard
Back of headstock
Back of neck
Rim at neck joint
Resonator
Full back

JE2807 Gibson TB-7 tenor, circa 1937, EXC (minor normal playing wear), maple neck and resonator, top tension, original flat head, hard case......$75,000
Full front
Body
Tailpiece
Headstock
Back of headstock
Back of neck
Resonator
Full back