Learning about the different banjos offered by Gibson can give you an idea of which one you would be most interested in purchasing. Gibson offers several different banjos, at prices ranging from $3,665 to $55,506 (all prices at time of writing -- June, 2011). Finding out the differences between the lower priced models and the higher priced models can help you make a decision based on cost and the quality of the instrument.
Cheapest Banjos, Under $5,000
Gibson offers a few different banjos that cost less than $5,000, namely the Earl Scruggs Standard, the RB-3 Wreath and the RB-250. Gibson's RB-250 features a three-ply mahogany resonator and a three-ply maple rim. Mahogany provides a warm tone, and maple gives a brighter edge. The neck of the RB-250 is made from mahogany, and the fret-board is made from ebony. Ebony gives a bright, high-end sound. The RB-250 has a Gibson bridge and nickel hardware. The scale length of the RB-250 is 26.4 inches.
Banjos Under $10,000
The majority of Gibson's banjos cost just over $5,000 dollars, and this group includes the RB-75, the Style 1 Custom, the J.D. Crowe "Black Jack," the Earl Scruggs Golden Deluxe and the slightly more expensive Style 5 Deluxe. The Earl Scruggs Golden Deluxe features an entirely maple construction for a biting, bright tone and a standard, one-piece flange. The fret-board is made from ebony. The hardware of the instrument is gold, with a 24-karat satin gold tailpiece. The unit features a Grover bridge, heart and flower inlays and two-way adjustable truss rod. The scale length of the instrument is 26.4 inches. Other models, such as the Style 5 Deluxe, feature a rosewood fret-board, which creates a more balanced tone.
Banjos Over $10,000
Gibson has two different banjos that cost just over $10,000: the Earl Scruggs Flint Hill Special and the Christmas Banjo. The Christmas Banjo features a maple resonator, binding and neck, with an ebony fret-board. It has gold hardware and ivory tuning heads. The inlays on the instrument have a frosted "Holly and Berries" design, with two snowflakes marking the 12th fret. The Christmas Banjo has a bone nut, Mastertone tone ring and a Grover bridge. The Earl Scruggs Flint Hill Special is relatively similar, except that it features ordinary "Hearts and Flowers" inlays, Kulesh tone ring, Gibson bridge and 24-karat satin gold armrest.
Most Expensive: $55,506
The Super Earl is the most expensive banjo offered by Gibson. The resonator is made from three-ply rosewood, with a three-ply maple rim. The neck is made from Indian rosewood, and the Super Earl has a rosewood fret-board. This gives the Super Earl a more balanced tone than many of the other banjos, featuring the tonally balanced rosewood over maple and other bright materials such as ebony. The Super Earl has a Kulesh tone ring, gold hardware and a 24-karat gold armrest. The unit has a pearl nut and a Grover bridge.