Gibson RB-75 Mastertone #F5883-5
After the top-tension models were introduced in 1937, only one conventional Mastertone remained in production--style 3's price was lowered from $100 to $75, and it was renamed style 75.
RB-75 #F5883-5 was shipped to a W.M. Pentz on August 13, 1942, with the factory order number incorrectly listed in the ledger with an "E" rather than an "F" prefix. It features a one-piece flange, a high-profile twenty-hole flathead tone ring, and nickel-plated hardware. As banjo production slowed down in the late 1930s and early 1940s, features of the style 75 banjos grew less standardized, and this banjo exhibits several features often found on late 75s. The neck is maple with no handstop whereas 75s typically had mahogany necks with handstops; it has been speculated that the necks for some of these late 75s were made from blanks originally intended for low-end style 00 banjos, which were produced in greater numbers than the Mastertones and came standard with maple necks and no handstops. The inlay pattern is a somewhat simplified version of the leaves and bows pattern found on earlier style 3 and 75 banjos, with the first fret inlay placed sideways from its normal positioning. The peghead inlay is a single fleur-de-lis and the thick Gibson logo is inlaid straight across the peghead and is partially obscured by the second- and third-string tuners--some Gibson banjo experts believe these chunkier logos were originally cut for use on lap steel guitars which were in heavy production by the late 1930s. A final odd feature of the fingerboard inlay is that what would normally be the Mastertone block at the twenty-first fret is in this case simply a blank piece of mother-of-pearl. On RB-75 #F5883-1 from this same lot, a rectangle of mahogany was inlaid in place of the mother-of-pearl block.
This banjo is in excellent condition including its original peghead tuners and friction fifth-string peg, and it is housed in its original red-line #522 hardshell case by Geib. The resonator has been refinished and the original lower-model Grover tailpiece has been replaced with a period Presto. As is typical of later prewar Gibsons, the factory order number is stamped on the back of the peghead. The original owner of #F5883-5 (see Gibson banjo serial numbers vs. factory order numbers) lived in Greencastle, Pennsylvania; the banjo was later owned for forty-two years by Vince Gettel of Spring Run, Pennsylvania.
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