Banjo makers in the 1920s and 1930s vied with one another to design ever more ornate and, in the eyes of some, ever gaudier banjos. Gold plating, engraving, carving, painting, and rhinestones adorned the top-of-the-line offerings from Gibson and its competitors; the Granada, as the lowest-priced gold-plated and engraved Gibson banjo (or “the bottom of the top of the line”) struck what many consider the optimum balance between opulence and restraint. Introduced in 1925 with the debut of Gibson’s Mastertone line, by the time this example was manufactured in 1929 the Granada featured highly figured curly maple with a sunburst finish, flying eagle (or, rarely, hearts and flowers) inlays with a double-cut peghead, a one-piece flange, and modest engraving on the armrest and tension hoop. The standard tailpiece was a Grover “clamshell”, often engraved “Granada” as on this example. The closeup photo of the back of the peghead shows a detail of prewar high-end Gibson banjo construction rarely duplicated by contemporary neck-makers; the peghead rear is veneered with curly maple so the joints of the peghead “ears” are not visible.
#9470-7 (see Gibson banjo serial numbers vs. factory order numbers) was originally sold through Levi’s Music Store in Rochester, New York.
Photos courtesy of an anonymous owner.