Gibson TB-5 Mastertone #0404-1, the “J.M. Barber”

Style 5 was included in the original Mastertone line of 1925, one model above the Granada, and remained in production until 1928 when it was replaced by style 6.  Gibson’s 1926 banjo catalog enthusiastically described the style 5:

“The DeLuxe of the Gibson Banjos is built of choice air-seasoned black walnut selected for strength and beauty.  It has laminated and arched flange resonator with marquetry inlays and is bound with ivoroid.  There is an exquisite beauty of texture.  All metal parts are triple gold plated, satin finish, engraved and hand burnished. . . The Brazilian rosewood fingerboard is bound with iridescent ivoroid and marquetry stripings and inlaid with beautiful white pearl designs to match those in the peg head.”

#0404-1 (see Gibson banjo serial numbers vs. factory order numbers) dates to the 1927-1928 period in which Gibson produced some banjos under a sequence of factory order numbers with leading zeroes.  The truss rod cover is engraved with the name of the banjo’s longtime owner, J.M. Barber.  Mr. Barber’s son remembers that his father “took his banjo everywhere and played for anyone who wanted to hear him. . . Dad worked for J.C. Penney for 41 years and and every day at noon he would come home for lunch and to sit down to play a few tunes on that banjo.”

#0404-1 remains in fully original, excellent condition and is housed in its original plush-lined Geib and Schaefer case.

Photos courtesy of an anonymous collector.