Bella Voce is Italian for “beautiful voice”; this model was introduced in 1927 and remained in the Gibson line for only three years. One of the most ornate banjos ever produced by Gibson, the Bella Voce was available with a variety of woods and trim options; the dark wood seen on this example is possibly rosewood. The Bella Voce is a tour de force of carving, painting, gold-sparkle binding, gold plating, and engraving. The flange is two-piece and the tone ring is a forty-hole archtop. The Grover two-hump clamshell tailpiece is engraved “Bella Voce”.
#0259-68 (see Gibson banjo serial numbers vs. factory order numbers) was made for Joe Ribaud, banjoist and manager of Vincent Lopez‘s Orchestra. Ribaud, with Joe Gibson and Joe Gold, also composed the song “Grieving for You” which was a sheet music million-seller performed by Eddie Cantor in the Broadway revue The Midnight Rounders of 1920 and later recorded by Rosemary Clooney. Joe Ribaud’s Bella Voce features the rhinestone-inlaid pearloid peghead overlay normally seen on the Florentine model; his name is engraved on the truss rod cover.
Photos courtesy of the family of Joe Ribaud.