Gibson TB-6 Mastertone #8893-1

The November 24, 1928 issue of Music Trade Review magazine carried an article with a Philadelphia dateline announcing a “New Tenor Banjo in the Gibson, Inc., Line”:

“Following a round of the prominent musical organizations and orchestras of the Quaker City, Factory Representative E. Havenza, of Gibson, Inc., manufacturer of the Gibson banjos, has brought to the attention of the profession the latest model of tenor banjo which the firm is introducing.  It is known as Gibson tenor banjo No. 6, and is constructed with the improved attachment to the arm rest, which provides for a set or adjusted pressure of the arm, giving softened and expressive playing and when released allows for volume of tone.  The wood frame is of novel two-tone effect, making an artistic design.” 

What the article described as a “two-tone effect” was the new sunburst finish which Gibson referred to as “Argentine grey”.  #8893-1 (see Gibson banjo serial numbers vs. factory order numbers) dates to late 1927 and is the earliest known example of a TB-6; rather than the Argentine grey finish, this example features a uniform blond finish.  TB-6 Mastertone #9083-1, the “Glenn Eastham”, is the earliest known TB-6 with the Argentine grey finish.  As with some of the other early examples of the style 6, the tension hoop, tone ring, and flange on this example are engraved in the pattern used on the recently-discontinued Bella Voce model rather than the “x” engraving pattern which would become standard on the style 6.  The larger Gibson logo on the peghead is an unusual feature seen only on a few of the earliest style 6 Mastertones, and the original tuners with mother-of-pearl buttons are a type not normally used by Gibson.

#8893-1 remains in excellent, unaltered condition and is set up with a vintage calfskin head; the original “Vibrato Tone-Master” armrest-activated mute mechanism remains with the banjo.

Photos courtesy of an anonymous owner.