While the tenor banjo was designed to be more accessible to players already familiar with the mandolin, the mandolin-banjo went one step further and combined the tuning, short scale, and doubled strings of the mandolin with a banjo body. #8594-1 dates to circa 1927 (see Gibson banjo serial numbers vs. factory order numbers) and is made of dark-finished maple with bracket shoes and a flange with diamond-shaped openings. The rim is ten and a half inches in diameter and the tone ring is a simple tubular design. Gibson’s prewar literature described the mandolin-banjo as “the essential soprano voice in the Banjo Band” and claimed that it combined “a certain portion of the mandolin sweetness with brilliancy, volume and tone quality of the banjo into one marvelous instrument.” As banjo ensembles fell out of favor beginning in the early 1930s, production of mandolin-banjos declined sharply.
Photos courtesy of Sean Needham.