Gibson TB-2 #20-2

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.

#20-6 (see Gibson banjo serial numbers vs. factory order numbers) dates to 1931 and retains its original finish and hardware with the exception of a postwar tension hoop and one replacement prewar bracket nut. This banjo appears in Gibson’s factory shipping ledgers being returned to Wittich’s Music in Reading, Pennsylvania on April 27, 1949 following an unspecified repair. The repair likely consisted of the installation of this early postwar tension hoop as a replacement for the original pot-metal tension hoop which had broken or disintegrated due to “zinc pest“.

#20-2 conforms to standard specifications for the model at the time with the exception of the brass tone hoop; while non-Mastertone models of this period typically featured a tone hoop which sat on the outside edge of the wooden rim (resulting in a “flathead” appearance) and non-Mastertones of the late 1930s and early 1940s typically featured a smaller-diameter tone hoop which sat on the inside edge of the rim (resulting in an “archtop” appearance), #20-2 features a hoop of intermediate diameter which sits in the middle of the wooden rim. Additionally, this tone hoop is held in place on top of the rim by four small pins, whereas such tone hoops are typically held in place only by head tension. It is unknown whether these anomalies related to the tone hoop are Gibson factory work or if they date to the 1949 repair.