Gibson TB-75 Mastertone #FG-2661, the “Florence ‘Flossie’ Miller”

1937 was a year of great change in Gibson’s banjo line.  Mastertone models 46GranadaFlorentine, and All American were discontinued and replaced with the new top-tension styles 712, 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.

By the time style 75 entered the Gibson catalogue, banjo production had declined dramatically and variations in inlay patterns became so common that it can fairly be said that there was not one standard style 75 pattern.  This banjo features a variation of the leaves and bows pattern on the Brazilian rosewood fingerboard, while the double-cut peghead is inlaid with a simple diamonds and squares pattern that had been standard (with a fiddle-shaped peghead) on the style 3 of the 1920s; the tuners are the original Klusons with amber Catalin buttons.  The banjo is housed in its original “red-line” #511 case by Geib and is accompanied by the original sheet of maintenance instructions from Gibson as well as a “Gibson Souvenir” leather pick pouch.  The current tailpiece is a replacement and the banjo has been fitted with an electric pickup and clear mylar head. 

This banjo bears a true serial number stamped on the back of the peghead (see Gibson banjo serial numbers vs. factory order numbers); original Gibson shipping records show that TB-75 #FG-2661 was shipped on April 16, 1940 to the Music Mart in Sandusky, Ohio, where it was acquired by original owner Florence “Flossie” Miller.

Photos courtesy of the family of Florence “Flossie” Miller.