Gibson TB-11, The “William G. Proctor”

“This model is alive with flash and color and yet is not gaudy”, proclaimed Gibson’s Catalog X of 1936 in describing the TB-11.  Introduced in 1931, style 11 used pearloid, blue paint, and silkscreened designs to dress up what was one of the company’s less-expensive banjo offerings.  Selling for $50, half the price of the least expensive Mastertone model, the style 11 proved to be quite popular and remained in production through the early 1940s.  Besides lending “color” and “flash”, the pearloid and paint provided Gibson with a way to use cosmetically flawed wood which might not have been suitable for more expensive models.

Like most style 11 banjos, this example is not marked with a factory order number or serial number.  Its remains in fully original, excellent condition and features a Grover Presto tailpiece rather than the cheaper Grover “first model” normally used on Gibson’s non-Mastertone banjos.

The original owner of this banjo was William G. Proctor, a native of Hillsboro, New Hampshire who graduated from West Point in the class of 1935 and served as a Lieutenant Colonel during World War II.

Photos courtesy of Joel Snow.