Gibson’s 1930 catalog described the TB-2, the highest-priced non-Mastertone tenor banjo offered by the company at the time, as “a real ‘pal’ for the banjo lover”, providing “a snappy, brilliant tone, powerful volume, reliable trueness and a world of ‘good looks'”. The style 2 of the 1930s was, like style 11, a lower-priced model which dressed itself up through the use of a pearloid fingerboard and peghead overlay with stenciled designs. Unlike style 11, however, style 2 limited its pearloid veneers to the neck; the resonator was walnut with single white binding on both edges. The hardware was nickel-plated.
#160-3 (see Gibson banjo serial numbers vs. factory order numbers) was shipped to the New York Band Instrument Company on December 11, 1935. It was bought new for Peter P. Piccirillo of Newark, New Jersey, who was born on March 28, 1926 and is pictured above in 1934 with the banjo he played prior to acquiring the TB-2. Mr. Piccirillo’s son Tom gives us more information:
“In the 1930’s, Pete Piccirillo lived on Elizabeth Avenue in Newark, New Jersey, with his parents and sister. They owned a grocery store two doors west of Sears-Roebuck’s. He walked several blocks each week to Bergen Street to take classical tenor banjo lessons. His sister, Martha, later joined him; she took guitar lessons, and their parents bought her a Gibson Kalamazoo KG-31. This guitar is still in our collection. They performed some duets while in grammar school. She used to freeze up while on stage, and Pete would give her a slap on the arm to get her going again amidst a bunch of tears . . . much to the delight of the audience, who thought it was part of the act. A few years later, Martha quit the guitar, and Pete started taking guitar lessons also. The name of the teacher cannot be recalled at this time. Pete played both guitar and banjo throughout his music career, which encompassed all of eighty years!
I’ve attached a 1953 picture of me holding the TB-2 (I was less than a year old). I’ve also included pictures of Dad playing the KG-31 with the band in the early 1950s and in 1960.”
#160-3 remains in excellent original condition. Mr. Piccirillo installed a pickup which required no alterations to the banjo; the original case had disintegrated by the 1990s and was replaced with a new hardshell case. The last two photos above show Mr. Piccirillo playing the the KG-31 in April 1957 and playing the TB-2 at Christmas 1990 with his son Tom and wife Trudy.
Photos courtesy of Tom Piccirillo.