Gibson TB-4 Mastertone #9553-8

#9553-8 Gibson Mastertone banjo TB-4 neck    #9553-8 Gibson Mastertone banjo TB-4 fingerboard    #9553-8 Gibson Mastertone banjo TB-4 peghead    #9553-8 Gibson Mastertone banjo TB-4 peghead back

#9553-8 Gibson Mastertone banjo TB-4 resonator back    #9553-8 Gibson Mastertone banjo TB-4 neck and pot    #9553-8 Gibson Mastertone banjo TB-4 Mastertone block    #9553-8 Gibson Mastertone banjo TB-4 hardware    #9553-8 Gibson Mastertone banjo TB-4 hardware

#9553-8 Gibson Mastertone banjo TB-4 clamshell tailpiece    #9553-8 Gibson Mastertone banjo TB-4 Mastertone decal    #9553-8 Gibson Mastertone banjo TB-4 factory order number in rim    #9553-8 Gibson Mastertone banjo TB-4 factory order number in resonator    #9553-8 Gibson Mastertone banjo TB-4 factory order number at neck cutout

Gibson's 1930 catalog described the TB-4 as "the materialization of the dreams of the most distinguished artist", yet "not too costly."  The model's specifications included what the catalog described as "beautiful, compelling Burl Walnut" and chrome (or "Chromium") plating, "the best wearing plate known to science."  The plating on this particular example has indeed held up well over the last seventy years, and the whole instrument remains in remarkably excellent, original condition, with only the tuners having been replaced.  Some areas of birds-eye figure are noticeable inside the rim.  While the catalog illustration showed the style 4 with flying eagle inlays, a small number were produced with the hearts and flowers pattern.  Lots 9553 and 9554 (see Gibson banjo serial numbers vs. factory order numbers) are two of the larger lots of style 4 banjos from this period; lot 9553 banjos are hearts and flowers while those from lot 9554 are flying eagle.

Photos by Mark Bramlett; Courtesy of Chuck Wallace.
 


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