Gibson TB-Granada Mastertone #8104-17, the “Gene Wilhelm”

Gibson described its new Granada model in 1925 as “a distinguished Gibson model of beautiful flamed curly maple with triple gold-plated metal parts, satin finish, hand burnished.  It has a slender, hand-shaped neck built with the Gibson patented truss-rod which prevents warping; 21 or 23-inch scale as requested.  11-inch rim.  The fingerboard is of Brazilian rosewood, bound with white and black ivoroid and marquetry stripings and inlaid with original designs of white pearl to match the peg head design.  It has laminated and arched flange resonator with marquetry inlays and bound with white and black ivoroid, and is equipped with gold plated (4 to 1) geared pegs, Kershner tailpiece and Gibson adjustable arm-rest; best quality Rogers white calf-skin head, pearl nut, maple bridge with ebony saddle and specially gauged strings.”

This first-year example conforms to all the catalog specifications and is in fully original excellent condition.  Both the “Mastertone” inlay on the peghead and the holes in the external skirt of the ball-bearing tone ring are unique to Mastertones produced in 1925.

#8107-17 (see Gibson banjo serial numbers vs. factory order numbers) was owned and played for many years by Gene L. Wilhelm of Portland, Oregon, who is pictured above with the banjo.  Mr. Wilhelm’s daughter tells us, “As far as we know, he owned it all of his life, but there is no way to verify this that I know of. Dad was born in 1914. . . he never played the banjo much when we were around, but keep in mind we didn’t arrive on the scene until dad was in his late 40s to mid 50s, and that was in the sixtiesDad was on a destroyer in World War II and survived being bombed. He married my Mom who was twenty years younger and had four girls. Dad passed away in 1997. . . he left a wonderful legacy.

Photos courtesy of the family of Gene Wilhelm.