Gibson TB-5 Mastertone #9029-28

Style 5 was included in the original Mastertone line of 1925, one model above the Granada, and remained in production until about 1929 when it was replaced by style 6.  Style 5 banjos were gold-plated and heavily engraved, with two-piece flanges and normally either ball-bearing or archtop tone rings.  Ornamentation included multicolored wood purfling, multicolored wood inlay on the back of the peghead, and “smoky pearl” binding.  The peghead was fiddle-shaped, the inlays were wreath pattern and the neck and resonator were walnut.

#9029-28 (see Gibson banjo serial numbers vs. factory order numbers) is a rare example of a style 5 tenor with a factory original twenty-hole high-profile flathead tone ring.  Although a cut Mastertone label is often an indicator that a ball-bearing or archtop banjo has been converted to a flathead, there are a number of documented original flatheads whose rims were cut down at the factory, and this is one such example.

Photos courtesy of Melvin Cumbee.