Gibson, Inc.

Page Two

The second type of UB-3, pictured below, is maple with mahogany finish, and has a flange and a full resonator, similar to those used on Gibson's regular banjos. Some examples are found with dot inlays on the fingerboard; this one has inlays similar to the first type UB-3. sold

Next we have the UB-4, a walnut instrument which has a flange and full resonator. Examples are found with either nickel or gold parts, and this is a source of some confusion. The gold plated model is usually referred to as the UB-5. However, the UB-4 is described in the 1934 catalog as having "figured walnut with dark brown finish. Metal parts gold plated. Rosewood FB. 8" rim with "professional extension resonator -- bound on bottom with white ivoroid." The 1928 catalog also describes the UB-4 as having gold plated parts.

The 1934 Gibson catalog gives the following prices for banjo ukes: UB-1, $10.00; UB-2, $18.00; UB-3, $30.00, and UB-4, $45.00. A hardshell case cost $8.50 and a canvas case was priced $2.00 (or $1.75 for the UB-1 canvas case).

The only model listed in the 1937 catalog was the UB-1, which was described as "made of northern maple finished in light mahogany; 6" rim; amplifying resonator; strong friction pegs; pearl position dots; adjustable head. Price $12.50. Canvas end-opening case, $1.80."

A word about Gibson serial numbers on banjo ukes is in order here. Generally, the UB, UB-1, UB-2, and UB-3 models have no numbers (I do know of a couple of late 1930s UB-3s, and a UB-2, that have F2046 batch numbers, and some UBs have numbers.) The batch number consists of the first four numbers; the number(s) following the dash indicates which instrument it is in the batch. Thus, the serial number 8457-5 on the UB-4 pictured below tells us that it is the fifth banjo uke in batch 8457. Further, the batch number tells us that it was made in 1926. The numbers are impressed into the wooden rim (some instruments from the late 1930s and early 1940s have the number on the back of the peghead). And, they were written in chalk inside the resonator. Click here to see a list of those serial numbers I am aware of.

Collectors should bear in mind the fact that with Gibson there are no "rules." The descriptions given above are only intended to serve as an introduction to the series. Variations can be found. And, Gibson also would produce custom instruments to the customer's specifications. A banjo uke exists with Bella Voce inlay, and pictured on the next page is one with a vine inlay.

A 1926 Gibson UB-4

Click Here to see a fancy Gibson banjo uke with vine inlay.

Click Here to see a list of Gibson banjo ukulele serial numbers

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