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. Style 2 banjos were not Mastertones and had no true tone ring, but did have the same three-ply maple rim and one-piece flange as the Mastertone models of the period.
The longtime owner of #9739-43 (see Gibson banjo serial numbers vs. factory order numbers) was Donald Hall (1922-1986), a native of Adams County, Pennsylvania. Mr. Hall is shown above in 1930s photographs with his bands The Buchanan Valley Boys and The Stoney Mountain Boys, although in these photographs he appears with a 1926 TB-3 Mastertone.
#9739-43 remains in excellent original condition with its “red-line” #511 case by Geib and Schaefer. The tailpiece, of a kind seen on some Gibson banjos of the later 1930s and early 1940s, is likely a replacement for the original Grover “first model” or “window” tailpiece.
An unusual feature of this banjo is the chalked date “9-23-30” just under the large factory order number inside the resonator. Factory-written dates on prewar Gibson banjos are extremely rare; a 1930 date for this banjo also coincides perfectly with the revised chronology established by Gibson historian Joe Spann in Spann’s Guide to Gibson 1902-1941 (the previously accepted date for this banjo would have been closer to 1935).
Photos courtesy of Brenda S. Hall and Sheila Hall Holm.