Gibson (used, 1963) Style 180 long-neck 5-string open-back

Tag No 58-9137 Used

#117984, formerly owned and played by noted folk musician Hedy West, in very good condition with apparently original hard shell case.

Gibson for some reason named their immediately post-war series of banjos with the word “Style” instead of “RB” as they did the prewar line. This model was produced, during the period of the great folk boom, in order to directly compete with Vega’s extremely popular “Pete Seeger.” The Gibson version has the center detent guitar-style headstock with the “Gibson” postwar script logo inlaid in mother-of-pearl, having the Gibson crown or flower thereunder. Below that is the black bell-shaped truss rod cover held in place by twin Phillips screws. The comely Brazilian rosewood fingerboard is inlaid with 10 pearl dotmarkers in 7 positions starting at the 6th fret (interestingly) and the fifth string is introduced at the 7th fret with the fifth string nut positioned at the 8th. The double dot appears at the 10th fret, then again at the `15th and lastly at the last fret which is the 25th. This extremely long neck (scale length around 32 1/8”) is bound in crème on two sides. The Style 180 is essentially the same as the Style 175 long-neck but with the addition of the fully nickel-plated Mastertone 20-hole flathead tone ring. The pot has 24 brackets and the head diameter is the standard 11”. It has a Gibson banjo armrest and flip-open unsigned tailpiece, both nickel-plated. The head is Fiberskyn type and is stained, in the normal fashion, with Ms. West’s DNA. The instrument shows normal signs of use and playing wear – small chips here and there including the edges of the headstock, finish checking, string changing marks, nicks and scratches overall, some rust on the brackets, some minor cloudiness on the nickel-plated parts. The neck is dead straight and the frets are low but quite playable. The instrument is suitable for professional use and the person that gets to own it would be in possession of an extremely important piece of American musical history since Hedy West is a beloved constituent of the fabric of the folk revival.

Here, in part, is what Wikipedia says (but the entire article is worth reading): “Hedy West (April 6, 1938 - July 3, 2005) was an American folksinger and songwriter. West was of the same generation as Joan Baez, Judy Collins, and others of the American folk music revival. Her most famous song "500 Miles" is one of America's best loved and best known folk songs. She was described by the English folk musician AL Lloyd as "far and away the best of American girl singers in the [folk] revival.” She was born Hedwig Grace West in the mountains of northern Georgia in 1938. Her father, Don West, was a coal mine labor organizer in the 1930s; his bitter experiences included seeing a close friend machine-gunned on the street by company goons in the presence of a young daughter. Later, he operated the Appalachian South Folklife Center in Pipestem, West Virginia. Many of Hedy's songs, including the raw materials for "500 Miles," came from her paternal grandmother, Lily West, who passed on the songs she had learned as a child.”

This banjo features replaced unsigned Planetary-style matching geared tuners on the headstock, each with a large pearloid button and an adjustable large screw at the back of the button; the fifth style peg is “Kroll” type with pearloid large button. The back of the neck is maple stained a see-through dark brown, and the rim is finished in black. There are small scratches on the treble side of the neck heel where a strap once hung, and Ms. West apparently scratched the following enigmatic numerical series lightly into the rim: “12433.” The interior of the rim has one coordinator rod. Although this model was made with a standard volute (hand stop) carved into the back of the neck behind the nut, because it was manufactured only from 1961 to 1967 the serial number can be interpreted only as 1963. The description of the model is usually said to be based on a Style 175 (RB-175) Gibson plus the addition of that esteemed tone ring. The difference derived from having a Mastertone 20-hole flathead tone ring in a long-neck open back is enormous: it provisions the banjo punch, power and plectral pulchritude. You probably know that Gibson had called its tone ring (this flathead version first emerged around 1933) “Mastertone” in order to compete with Vega’s “Tubaphone” (originally spelled with dashes). For many players, the hyper-masculine, testosteronic, muscular, mesomorphic brawn turns this into a Pete Seeger on steroids if such a concept can even be imagined. And it was Hedy West’s banjo! Playing it will make your day; owning it can change your life.

Our Discount Price is $2,056.00 and Our Cash Discount Price is $1,995.00.

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