Gibson RB-75 Mastertone #DA-5055
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 rechristened style 75. #DA-5055 is a beautiful example of an RB-75 and was shipped from the Gibson factory in 1939. It conforms to standard catalog specifications for style 75 with mahogany neck and resonator, one-piece flange, high-profile twenty-hole flathead tone ring, nickel-plated hardware, double-cut peghead, and rosewood fingerboard. A variety of inlay patterns are seen on style 75 banjos, and #DA-5055 is inlaid with the full ten-piece leaves and bows pattern; the majority of leaves-and-bows RB-75s had an abbreviated inlay set with only eight pieces.
No original shipment information for #DA-5055 appears in Gibson's shipping ledgers, although the banjo was logged on July 27, 1949 as being returned to Freeman's Jewelry (location unknown) after a repair. There is a decal on the back of the resonator bearing the name and phone number of, High Point Music Supply in High Point, North Carolina, likely the original seller of the banjo.
#DA-5055, pictured above with owner John Bowles, is one of the best-sounding prewar banjos I have ever encountered and I was fortunate to be able to record some sound clips of it at Banjothon 2009 in Maryville, Tennessee:
Banks of the Ohio
Cora Is Gone
Green Mountain Hop
Photos courtesy of John Bowles.