The banjo is a unique and beloved instrument that has a long and storied history in American music. While there are many affordable options available for those who want to learn to play, there are also some banjos that can fetch incredibly high prices. In this article, we will explore the most expensive banjo ever sold and what makes it so valuable.
The Most Expensive Banjos
Gibson RB-3 – $420,000
The most expensive banjo ever sold is the Gibson RB-3, which was owned by the legendary Earl Scruggs. Scruggs was a pioneer of the “three-finger” style of banjo playing and is widely regarded as one of the greatest banjo players of all time. He played the Gibson RB-3 throughout much of his career and it became a symbol of his unique style and sound.
So, how much did the Gibson RB-3 sell for? In 2004, the banjo was put up for auction by Christie’s and was expected to fetch between $150,000 and $250,000. However, it ended up selling for an incredible $420,000, making it the most expensive banjo ever sold.
There are several factors that contributed to the high value of the Gibson RB-3. Firstly, it was owned and played by Earl Scruggs, who is considered a legend in the world of bluegrass music. The banjo was used on many of his most famous recordings, including “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” and “The Ballad of Jed Clampett”. This makes the Gibson RB-3 a piece of music history that is highly sought after by collectors and fans alike.
In addition to its association with Earl Scruggs, the Gibson RB-3 is also a highly prized instrument in its own right. It was made by the Gibson company, which is widely regarded as one of the finest makers of banjos in the world. The RB-3 model was introduced in the 1930s and is considered one of the most desirable banjos ever produced by Gibson.
The Gibson RB-3 is also a visually striking instrument, with its resonator back and mother-of-pearl inlays. It’s a banjo that looks as good as it sounds, and its combination of style and substance is part of what makes it so valuable.
1939 Gibson RB-7 – $100,000
The rarest and most expensive banjo in the world. Only a few remain in the world, and are usually housed in museums and collections. One of the first ‘top tension’ banjos, which featured an arched fretboard, allowing easier playing; a solid, carved resonator, helping to increase projection; and a tension hoop allowing the tightening or loosening of the banjo’s head from the top of the instrument.
While the Gibson RB-3 is the most expensive banjo ever sold, there are other banjos that can also command high prices. For example, the Gibson Mastertone is another highly sought-after model that can sell for tens of thousands of dollars. Similarly, vintage banjos from makers like Vega and Bacon can also fetch high prices at auction.
Deering Banjosaurus™ Long Neck – $63,999
An amazing banjo from an amazing manufacturer, the Deering Banjosaurus™ Long Neck was designed for the legendary George Grove of the San Fransisco group, the Kingston Trio. featuring a mural inlay of the dinosaur age, made of mother of pearl in white, gold and black, coral, turquoise, cactus, abalone, malachite, several kinds of soap-stones, koa, taugua nut, and rosewood are set into the ebony fingerboard. Currently sold out, you can put your name on the waiting list at the Deering website.
Gibson Super Earl Banjo – $55,000
Only 5 still remain of these legendary banjos that feature a signed picture of Earl Scruggs on the back.
Deering Gabriella 5-String Banjo – $32,999
The Deering Banjo Company was founded by Greg and Janet Deering in Spring Valley, California in 1975. They are renowned through-out the world for their top quality hand made banjos.
The Gabriella 5-String is their most expensive banjo. Make sure you check out the specs from Deering website.