Gibson TB-4 Mastertone #9521-14, the “Joseph Mihalek”

Gibson’s 1930 catalog described the TB-4 as “the materialization of the dreams of the most distinguished artist”, yet “not too costly.”  The model’s specifications included what the catalog described as “beautiful, compelling Burl Walnut” and chrome (or “Chromium”) plating, “the best wearing plate known to science.”  As is the case with most surviving style 4 banjos from the period, the plating on this 1930 example (see Gibson banjo serial numbers vs. factory order numbers) has indeed held up well over the decades; the whole instrument remains in excellent original condition in a newer hardshell case.  The peghead and fingerboard inlays are in the catalog-specified “flying eagle” pattern, although 1930s style 4 banjos are also seen with the “hearts and flowers” pattern as used on TB-4 Mastertone #9553-34.

Gibson’s shipping ledger for February 13, 1936 shows that #9521-14 was repaired for a Joseph Mihalek, location unknown.  Although the nature of the repair was not recorded, it could well have involved the replacement of a failed first-generation die-cast one-piece flange.

Photos courtesy of Joel Kadarauch