Gibson TB-18 Mastertone #E2753-1

#E2753-1 Gibson Mastertone banjo TB-18 peghead    #E2753-1 Gibson Mastertone banjo TB-18 factory order number on peghead    #E2753-1 Gibson Mastertone banjo TB-18 factory order number on peghead    #E2753-1 Gibson Mastertone banjo TB-18 neck    #E2753-1 Gibson Mastertone banjo TB-18 neck    #E2753-1 Gibson Mastertone banjo TB-18 tailpiece    #E2753-1 Gibson Mastertone banjo TB-18 armrest    #E2753-1 Gibson Mastertone banjo TB-18 stretcher band

#E2753-1 Gibson Mastertone banjo TB-18 stretcher band and five-string neck    #E2753-1 Gibson Mastertone banjo TB-18 Mastertone decal    #E2753-1 Gibson Mastertone banjo TB-18 tone ring    #E2753-1 Gibson Mastertone banjo TB-18 pot    #E2753-1 Gibson Mastertone banjo TB-18 pot    #E2753-1 Gibson Mastertone banjo TB-18 resonator back    #E2753-1 Gibson Mastertone banjo TB-18 resonator inside    #E2753-1 Gibson Mastertone banjo TB-18 neck notch in resonator

#E2753-1 Gibson Mastertone banjo TB-18 with five-string neck    #E2753-1 Gibson Mastertone banjo TB-18 five-string neck back    #E2753-1 Gibson Mastertone banjo TB-18 with five-string neck    #E2753-1 Gibson Mastertone banjo TB-18 with five-string neck back    #E2753-1 Gibson Mastertone banjo TB-18 with tenor and five-string necks    #E2753-1 Gibson Mastertone banjo TB-18 five-string neck detail    #E2753-1 Gibson Mastertone banjo TB-18 case

Gibson described the TB-18 as "the headliner of all modern tenor banjos" in its Catalog BB of 1942.  "Modern" seems to have been the operative word in Gibson's conception of their new line of top-tension banjos, introduced in 1937.  Art Deco styling, flathead tone rings, radiused fingerboards, and solid carved resonator backs, along with the new and more convenient head-tensioning system, were clearly meant to help the banjo shed its old-fashioned image and regain popularity in a popular music world that was increasingly dominated by the guitar.  As the top model in Gibson's new banjo line, style 18 was the only gold-plated Mastertone in production from the late 1930s until banjo production was suspended during World War II.

#E2753-1 (see Gibson banjo serial numbers vs. factory order numbers) dates to 1941 and although catalog descriptions of the model specified curly maple, this example is one of a number of style 18 banjos produced with "bird's-eye" maple; the fleur-de-lis peghead inlay is another frequently observed non-standard variation.  #E2753-1 is accompanied by its original #509 Geib and Schaefer plush-lined case and has been set up with a five-string conversion neck by Robin Smith.

Photos courtesy of Craig Korth.

 


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