L. B. Gatcomb “Gatcomb’s Award” model 75, 5-string banjo, S/N 4471, Circa 1890
Gatcomb was a prominent Boston banjo maker and music publisher who competed head-to-head with Stewart, Fairbanks and Cole in the 1880’s and 1890’s. This is a high-end Gatcomb banjo with a 12" head and, like other Gatcomb banjos I have seen, a bridge which is located closer to the tailpiece than is usually seen. Most manufacturers designed their banjos so that the bridge was located about 1/3 of the diameter of the head from the tailpiece, but not Gatcomb. Whether this was supposed to result in finer tone or higher volume or whatever I am not sure, but this banjo does have a beautiful and clear tone. Note the beautiful saw-cut pearl inlays all over, and the interesting interior to the rim which includes an ebony band with pearl and brass inlays.
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