Gibson is debuting a new, limited edition banjo model this year, marking the 5oth anniversary of the original release of Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs’ classic recording, Foggy Mountain Jamboree. Though they had been releasing singles on a regular basis since 1951, Foggy Mountain Jamboree was their first long playing album, which some music historians say was the first bluegrass LP by any artist.
Included on that 1957 LP was Flint Hill Special, a Scruggs instrumental originally recorded in 1952 that, along with Earl’s Breakdown, Foggy Mountain Chimes and Randy Lynn Rag (all three also featured on that album), introduced the bluegrass world to what came to be known as the Scruggs tuner, a device that allowed Earl to quickly detune and retune a string.
Gibson has long marketed a banjo known as the Earl Scruggs Flint Hill Special (the name of both the song and the banjo taken from Scruggs’ birthplace in North Carolina), and their new 2008 commemorative banjo is a special edition of that model.
Only 20 Commemorative Limited Edition Earl Scruggs Flint Hill Special banjos will be made, and purchasers will receive a number of pieces of Earl Scruggs memorabilia as well.
The banjo will be made of figured maple (neck, and resonator overlay) with an ebony fingerboard inlaid with Gibson’s Hearts & Flowers pattern. The neck and resonator are bound with white/black/white trim and the peghead with mother of pearl. The heel cap is also mother of pearl, and the banjo is engraved and gold plated. Each will ship in an Earl Scruggs signature model red line case, with the head signed by the man himself, an autographed copy of Earl’s banjo book and a CD copy of Foggy Mountain Jamboree.
The first five purchasers will also get Earl’s signature on the back of the peghead, plus a signed and framed Flint Hill Special tablature from the Scruggs book.
Gibson has not responded to our requests for more details about the selling price, but similar limited edition models have carried retail prices close to
$50,000. When we hear from them with a price (and availability/ordering info), we’ll update this post. (See update below)
The Gibson folks also included this classic YouTube clip in their press release about the new Scruggs banjo. Nice!
UPDATE 4/2: A commenter indicated that the suggested retail prices were $18,499 for the first five and $11,999 for the remaining production run. We also reached Janet Davis of Janet Davis Music, a large and prominent dealer for Gibson Banjos, who told us that they are offering them for $16,665 (1-5) and $10799 (6-20).