with the exception of any instruments advertised for sale and followed by a specific contact telephone number ***

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W. E. TEMLETT ‘APOLLO 5’ 5-String Zither Banjo (c.1900). Highly decorated in mother-of-pearl, this is a banjo from a renowned and famous maker. For all enquiries about this banjo please telephone 07847 519624. Full details from the owner.

WINDSOR ‘MONARCH’ SUPREMUS’ 5-String Banjo (1927). High-end Windsor banjo costing £22.10s (£22.50p) when new and second only to the ‘De-Luxe Monarch Supremus’ banjo. With Windsor’s ‘Patent Hollow Rim’, and geared tuning pegs. For all enquiries about this banjo please telephone 07847 519624. Full details from the owner.


GIBSON RB-4 5-String Banjo (1925). This Banjo is part of my private collection and is NOT FOR SALE, but I thought that some people would find its history interesting to read. This is a beautiful, incredibly rare and very early example of a pre-war Gibson ‘Mastertone’ RB-4 5-string banjo in gorgeous original condition. Very few pre-war Gibson RB-4’s were made but they remain a huge favourite amongst banjo players, and this one comes from their first year of manufacture in 1925. This banjo is in genuinely stunning original condition including its original Gibson 5-string neck with the ‘hearts and flowers’ inlay. Made of British Honduras mahogany with Brazilian rosewood fingerboard. Eleven inch rim. Straight neck with virtually no wear to frets or to fingerboard. Serial number 8134-2 (See information by Joe Spann below).

Original tailpiece (shown in Gibson’s original catalogue photographs and used until mid-1926), original ‘hot dog’ armrest and original Grover tuning pegs (four geared ones on the peghead plus the matching fifth string peg on the neck). Original hooks and nuts, and it comes with a selection of old picks (some tortoiseshell), old bridges and strings, plus the original ‘Gibson’ tension key and mute. Banjo players who have seen it and played it have all been amazed by its condition, its playability and the superb quality of the sound that it produces. It comes with a more recent hard shaped ‘Gibson’ banjo case.

I bought this banjo from a man whose uncle had owned it ever since purchasing it from a music shop in Croydon (near London) on the 7th of January 1948. The uncle played the 5-string banjo (often referred to in England as a ‘G’ banjo and elsewhere as a ‘Regular’ banjo) and he told his family that he had always wanted to own and play a ‘Gibson’ banjo, so when he saw this Gibson banjo in the window of the music shop in Croydon he decided to buy it whatever the cost. This he did, by paying a £5 deposit and paying off the remaining £19 pounds 19 shillings (£19.95p) by instalments. I have the original receipt from the music shop for this sale and all the details are clearly written on it in ink, including the words ‘Gibson Mastertone G Banjo’. The receipt is dated and it has the signature of the shop owner on it.

During the purchase, the uncle asked the shop owner where the banjo  had come from? He was told that in either late 1943 or early 1944 an American Serviceman had walked into his shop and asked if he would do him a great favour. Knowing that he would not be able to take his banjo with him when he was sent off to do battle in Europe, he asked the shop owner if he would be prepared to keep his banjo safely for him until at least two years after the war ended, and if he survived the conflict he would definitely return to collect his banjo and give the shop owner something for all his help. If he didn’t return by the end of this period he told the shop owner to sell his banjo and keep the money. The shop owner was happy to agreed to do this and the American Serviceman left this banjo with him.

The war ended in 1945, and the owner of the music shop kept his word over this banjo, but by the new year in 1948 the American Serviceman had still not returned to collect it. So, in January 1948, the shop owner reluctantly decided to put this Gibson banjo up for sale, and it was sold to the uncle on the 7th of January.

The uncle loved his Gibson banjo and kept it for the remainder of his life, playing it for at least a few minutes almost every day. In July 1949 he purchased some picks from Emile Grimshaw’s shop in London and the original advert and original receipt for that sale still survive with this instrument - as do the picks themselves. Upon the death of the uncle in 1983, ownership of the banjo passed to the uncle’s nephew - who couldn’t play a note, and the old Gibson got forgotten about until the nephew and his family were preparing to move house, when they found it again as they were clearing out the loft. This banjo was subsequently sold to me.

Although in many respects this is a sad story, I’m sure that the American Serviceman who owned this banjo before world war two would be very happy to know that his old Gibson banjo had survived right the way through to the present day in such wonderful original condition.

Please Note: Given the rarity of this banjo it is very easy to understand why some people will find it very hard to believe that this banjo is what it is, but I can assure everyone that this instrument is definitely a genuine ORIGINAL PRE-WAR GIBSON RB-4 (5-string) Banjo and NOT a converted Gibson tenor banjo or a converted Gibson plectrum banjo.

So, if any of you are ever in my area please contact me and I would be delighted to meet you and show you this banjo so that you can see it - and play it - for yourself. You’d be more than welcome to do so.




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Over 45 years of Experience and Expertise with Ukuleles and Banjo Ukes

Web site founded in 2001

John Croft, Glan Tanat, Llanyblodwel, Oswestry, Shropshire, SY10 8NQ, England.

Tel: (+44) 01691 828850