Gibson TB-2 #9520-2, the “J.B. George”

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.  Style 2 banjos are relatively scarce, perhaps because a player considering one could get a Mastertone for just $25 more.  As on the style 11 and Kel Kroydon banjos, Gibson added visual appeal to the style 2 through the use of a pearloid fingerboard and peghead overlay with stenciled designs.  The neck and resonator are walnut, the hardware is nickel-plated, the flange is one-piece, and the tailpiece is a Grover Presto rather than the Grover “first model” usually seen on lower-priced non-Mastertone models.

This example dates to approximately 1930 and has the thicker rim (.620″) associated with the earlier one-piece-flange models.  The flange shows considerable pulling up as is common with banjos from this period, but it remains fully intact and functional.  The burl walnut veneer on the back of the resonator is especially nice, despite finish damage done by contact with a vinyl strap.  The neck shows one spot of noticeable figure, as well as names of notes or chords scratched into it by a previous owner.  The armrest is the two-piece type more commonly seen on Gibson banjos of the 1920s.

TB-2 #9520-2 (see Gibson banjo serial numbers vs. factory order numbers) was owned for many years by James Burrell “J.B.” George, who started out with a banjo and guitar ordered from Sears-Roebuck circa 1936 (shown above with his two sons) but later in life bought the TB-2 used and played it in a polka band every Friday night at the Slovenian Club in Herminie, Pennsylvania.  After Mr. George’s death in 1978, the banjo was passed on to his son Gene who is pictured above.