Gibson TB-75 Mastertone #416-2

1937 was a year of great change in Gibson’s banjo line.  Mastertone models 4, 6, Granada, Florentine, and All American were discontinued and replaced with the new toptension styles 7, 12, and 18.   Of the previous Mastertone models, only style 3 survived; its price was lowered from $100 to $75 and, in keeping with Gibson’s new fashion for naming instruments after their prices, was renamed style 75.

With the introduction of the toptension models as the “flagship” Mastertones in the Gibson line, the retention of style 75 as a budget-model Mastertone gave the company an opportunity to use up leftover components from discontinued models.  #416-2 features the “flying eagle” inlay pattern, walnut neck, and burl walnut resonator with two rings of multicolored marquetry as seen on the recently-discontinued style 4; it differs from style 4 only in its plating, which is the nickel commonly associated with style 75 rather than the chrome plating of style 4.  A “littermate” to this banjo, TB-75 Mastertone #416-5, features the “flying eagle” inlays of #416-2 but has a plain walnut resonator as seen on the non-Mastertone style 2, another recently-discontinued model at the time.

#416-2 was shipped on December 1, 1937 to Austin Scrivener, a Gibson teacher-agent in Hartford, Connecticut.  It has now been converted to flathead five-string with an HR-30 conversion tone ring by Steve Huber and a neck by Arthur Hatfield.

Photos courtesy of an anonymous collector.