The style 2 of the 1930s was the highest-priced non-Mastertone model, selling for $75 when the entry-level Mastertone, style 3, was $100. Lot #824 (see Gibson banjo serial numbers vs. factory order numbers) is one of the last documented batches of style 2 banjos, and for unknown reasons the banjos from this lot feature the forty-hole archtop tone ring normally reserved for the Mastertone models. A close look at the inside of the rim reveals that it was originally drilled for two coordinator rods, another feature of the Mastertone line; the hole for the upper rod was plugged at the factory and the single rod typical of the non-Mastertone models was installed. The rim serial number was stamped in the larger font seen on some Gibson banjos from the period, again for unknown reasons.
In other respects, this example is a typical 1930s style 2 with walnut neck and resonator, stenciled designs on the pearloid fingerboard and peghead overlay, nickel-plated hardware, and a one-piece flange. The tuners are the Grovers typically used on the lower-priced Mastertone models; the tailpiece is an inexpensive design referred to in Gibson catalogs as the “Grover first model”. The case is the original “red line” hardshell.
Photos courtesy of Tom Kostensky.