Gibson MB-1 Mandolin Banjo (1922)

Bought this nice vintage instrument today. It’s a 1922 Gibson MB-1 mandolin banjo, manufactured in Kalamazoo, Michigan by the then-Gibson Mandolin-Guitar Company. It’s in excellent condition. All of the tuners work and hold tune well. The banjo head is an original calfskin with no tears or other damage other than dirt and wear, with “Joseph Rogers Son PIONEER” stamped on the interior. It’s open back; from the wear around the edges on the back it never had a trapdoor resonator. The brass armrest was in the wrong location so I moved it back to where it should go. It may be missing a tailpiece cover, though the one Chris Nelson has on his site doesn’t have one either (though his does have the trapdoor resonator and a mounted pickguard). It’s missing one bracket hook and hex nut; I ordered replacements today and will restring it (or have it restrung) since I have no idea how old the strings are (certainly not original, though).

Gibson factory order number (FON) is 11628-18, which dates it to 1922 per Joe Spann’s Guide to Gibson 1902-1941.

It sounds nice. I don’t really know how to play it yet, but as I mentioned, I was able to tune it and it seems to be staying in tune pretty well.

Here are a few photos:

1922 Gibson MB-1 mandolin banjo
1922 Gibson MB-1 mandolin banjo
Gibson MB-1 back view
Back view
Gibson MB-1 hard case exterior
Hard case exterior
Gibson MB-1 hard case interior
Hard case interior
Gibson MB-1 closeup of banjo head
Closeup of banjo head
Gibson MB-1 tuners
Gibson MB-1 manufacturer's label
Gibson label
Gibson MB-1 showing FON number
FON number embossed on interior
Gibson MB-1 back of tuners
Back of tuners

Author: Tom Kephart

Actor, director, writer. Social media guy. Higher ed drone. Sings for beer in karaoke bars.