Gibson TB-00 #F1159-25, the “Harold K. Fisher”

Style 00 was introduced in 1935 as the least-expensive banjo in the Gibson line.  An initial price of $30 was lowered to $27.50 by 1937, and the model proved to be quite popular; after the company had discontinued many of its higher-end banjo styles, the humble 00 remained in the Gibson catalog into the World War II years.

#F1159-25 (see Gibson banjo serial numbers vs. factory order numbers) was shipped on December 13, 1940 to the Muncie, Indiana location of Pearson Music.  Another TB-00 from the same lot was shipped on the same day to Pearson’s Anderson, Indiana location; the banjo going to Anderson was shipped in a #120 “Challenge” case but the banjo seen here was shipped with no case.  #F1159-25 differs in a few respects from standard catalog specifications for style 00; while the resonator is straight-grain maple as is typical for the model, the neck is highly-figured maple which would normally be seen on a style 18 top-tension banjo of the period.  On close inspection of the back of the peghead, the “ears” appear to be mahogany.  The neck’s sunburst finish is also more in keeping with style 18 than with the yellow-to-black sunburst typical of style 00.  Another unusual feature of this example is the presence of a brass tone hoop on top of the rim as normally seen on styles 1, 2, and 11.

The Kluson tuners with amber Catalin buttons, Phillips-head screws, and short bracket nuts are all features common to Gibson banjos of the early 1940s.  The original owner of #F1159-25 was Harold K. “Hod” Fisher of Muncie, Indiana, who is believed to have been given the banjo by his wife.