Gibson RB-75 Mastertone #2758
After the top-tension models were introduced in 1937, only one conventional Mastertone remained in production--style 3 underwent some slight changes, its price was lowered from $100 to $75, and it was renamed style 75. As a few banjos continued to be produced into the early 1940s, wartime material shortages led Gibson to sometimes use whatever remaining parts were available to fill the few orders that came in, even if the resulting instruments were a mismatch of various models. #2758 is a very interesting example of such a "floor-sweep" banjo, and is one of the lasts RB-75s shipped from the Gibson factory.
The banjo's neck is straight-grain maple rather than style 75's standard mahogany, and has no handstop. The budget-model RB-00 five-string had a maple neck with no handstop, and it has been speculated that RB-00 neck blanks may have been used to build necks for some of these late RB-75s. The rosewood fingerboard is inlaid with the leaves and bows pattern but the nineteenth and twenty-first frets feature dot inlays reminiscent of those found on the non-Mastertone style 1. The peghead is inlaid with the fleur-de-lis and thick, horizontal Gibson logo common to late prewar production and widely believed to have been intended for use on lap steel guitars. The resonator is curly maple rather than mahogany, and is finished in a uniform reddish-brown color without the concentric rings of purfling normally found on style 75.
The pot features a twenty-hole flathead tone ring and one-piece flange. This banjo lacks a Mastertone label and has no factory order number stamped on the back of the peghead or inside the rim; instead there is a paper label glued inside the rim with the typed order number 2758 (see Gibson banjo serial numbers vs. factory order numbers) and the date 1-24-44. While the number 2758 does not appear in Gibson's shipping ledgers, the ledgers do show a shipment of an RB-75 to the Music and Model Shop (location unknown) on January 24, 1944.
Photos courtesy of Don Sojka.