Locating Your Banjo’s Serial Number

For questions about your banjo’s serial number, please send me an e-mail.

Most prewar and wartime Gibson banjos are actually marked with factory order numbers rather than serial numbers, but for right now you don’t need to be worried about the distinction unless you’re just especially interested!  If your banjo has a wooden back, or resonator, you’ll need to remove it to get to the factory order number.  Don’t worry. . . removing the resonator is no more invasive than raising the hood on a car.  The resonator will be held in place by three or four large screws that look like the one circled in this photo:

The red circle indicates one of the thumb screws which hold the wooden back, or resonator, onto the body of a Gibson banjo.

On some earlier Gibson banjos, the screws will have small hex-shaped heads instead of the large round heads. These screws can just be undone with your fingers and once the back is removed, you will likely see a factory order number in three places…stamped into the wooden rim:

This is a factory order number stamped inside the wooden rim of a Gibson banjo.

and written inside the resonator, both in large chalk numbers in the center, and in smaller red or brownish numbers near the edge:

The factory order number will be written inside the wooden back, or resonator, of a Gibson banjo.

You can also look for one of two types of decals inside the wooden rim. . .

the “Mastertone” guarantee label:

Gibson Mastertone banjos feature a guarantee label or decal inside the wooden rim.

or the smaller “The Gibson” label:

Non-Mastertone Gibson banjos feature an oval "The Gibson" label or decal inside the wooden rim.

If there is no factory order number inside the rim or resonator, there could be a factory order number or serial number hiding on the back of the peghead, above the tuners:

Some Gibson banjos have a serial number or factory order number stamped on the back of the peghead.