After the top-tension models were introduced in 1937, only one conventional Mastertone remained in production–style 3 underwent some slight changes, its price was lowered from $100 to $75, and it was rechristened style 75. #DA-5055 is a beautiful example of an RB-75 and was shipped from the Gibson factory in 1939. It conforms to standard catalog specifications for style 75 with mahogany neck and resonator, one-piece flange, high-profile twenty-hole flathead tone ring, nickel-plated hardware, double-cut peghead, and rosewood fingerboard. A variety of inlay patterns are seen on style 75 banjos, and #DA-5055 is inlaid with the full ten-piece leaves and bows pattern; the majority of leaves-and-bows RB-75s had an abbreviated inlay set with only eight pieces.
No original shipment information for #DA-5055 appears in Gibson’s shipping ledgers, although the banjo was logged on July 27, 1949 as being returned to Freeman’s Jewelry (location unknown) after a repair. There is a decal on the back of the resonator bearing the name and phone number of, High Point Music Supply in High Point, North Carolina, likely the original seller of the banjo.
Photos courtesy of John Bowles.