Gibson TB-75 Mastertone #664-7, the "Richard Harter"

#664-7 Gibson Mastertone banjo TB-75 front    #664-7 Gibson Mastertone banjo TB-75 back    #664-7 Gibson Mastertone banjo TB-75 peghead front    #664-7 Gibson Mastertone banjo TB-75 peghead back

#664-7 Gibson Mastertone banjo TB-75 first fret inlay    #664-7 Gibson Mastertone banjo TB-75 third fret inlay    #664-7 Gibson Mastertone banjo TB-75 fifth fret inlay    #664-7 Gibson Mastertone banjo TB-75 seventh fret inlay    #664-7 Gibson Mastertone banjo TB-75 tenth fret inlay    #664-7 Gibson Mastertone banjo TB-75 twelfth fret inlay    #664-7 Gibson Mastertone banjo TB-75 fifteenth fret inlay    #664-7 Gibson Mastertone banjo TB-75 seventeenth fret inlay    #664-7 Gibson Mastertone banjo TB-75 Mastertone block

#664-7 Gibson Mastertone banjo TB-75 peghead logo    #664-7 Gibson Mastertone banjo TB-75 serial number on peghead    #664-7 Gibson Mastertone banjo TB-75 Grover tuner    #664-7 Gibson Mastertone banjo TB-75 pot    #664-7 Gibson Mastertone banjo TB-75 pot    #664-7 Gibson Mastertone banjo TB-75 pot    #664-7 Gibson Mastertone banjo TB-75 armrest

#664-7 Gibson Mastertone banjo TB-75 #401-N head guard    #664-7 Gibson Mastertone banjo TB-75 hardware    #664-7 Gibson Mastertone banjo TB-75 Presto tailpiece    #664-7 Gibson Mastertone banjo TB-75 resonator    #664-7 Gibson Mastertone banjo TB-75 resonator detail    #664-7 Gibson Mastertone banjo TB-75 side dots    #664-7 Gibson Mastertone banjo TB-75 pot inside

#664-7 Gibson Mastertone banjo TB-75 resonator bracket    #664-7 Gibson Mastertone banjo TB-75 neck heel and rim    #664-7 Gibson Mastertone banjo TB-75 Mastertone decal    #664-7 Gibson Mastertone banjo TB-75 factory order number in rim    #664-7 Gibson Mastertone banjo TB-75 factory order numbers in resonator    #664-7 Gibson Mastertone banjo TB-75 large factory order number in resonator    #664-7 Gibson Mastertone banjo TB-75 small factory order number in resonator    #664-7 Gibson Mastertone banjo TB-75 resonator screws

#664-7 Gibson Mastertone banjo TB-75 #509 case closed    #664-7 Gibson Mastertone banjo TB-75 #509 case open    #664-7 Gibson Mastertone banjo TB-75 in #509 case    #664-7 Gibson Mastertone banjo TB-75 peghead in #509 case    #664-7 Gibson Mastertone banjo TB-75 pot in #509 case    #664-7 Gibson Mastertone banjo TB-75 #509 case top eagle    #664-7 Gibson Mastertone banjo TB-75 #509 case bottom eagle    #664-7 Gibson Mastertone banjo TB-75 #509 case lock    #664-7 Gibson Mastertone banjo TB-75 #509 case latch

#664-7 Gibson Mastertone banjo TB-75 shipping 16 May 1938

#664-7 Gibson Mastertone banjo TB-75 shipping 1 August 1939

#664-7 Gibson Mastertone banjo TB-75 shipping 26 June 1941
 

1937 was a year of great change in Gibson's banjo line; Mastertone models 4, 6, Granada, Florentine, and All American were discontinued and replaced with the new top-tension styles 7, 12, and 18.   Of the previous Mastertone models, only style 3 survived; its price was lowered from $100 to $75 and, in keeping with Gibson's new fashion for naming instruments after their prices, was renamed style 75.

TB-75 #664-7 was shipped on May 16, 1938 to Loser's Music Store in Lebanon, Pennsylvania.  Gibson's factory shipping ledgers also record the return of this banjo to Loser’s Music Store on August 1, 1939 following an unspecified repair; this repair evidently consisted of a neck replacement, as the neck currently on the banjo bears the serial number #EG-3110, dating to 1939, on the back of the peghead.  A third ledger entry records the return of the banjo to Loser’s Music Store following another unspecified repair on June 26, 1941 (on this occasion the banjo was identified in the ledger by its peghead serial number). 

#664-7 remains in excellent original condition with mahogany neck and resonator, nickel-plated hardware, forty-hole raised-head tone ring, and a variation of the “leaves and bows” inlay pattern with the first-fret inlay turned ninety degrees from its typical orientation.  The banjo retains its original #401-N factory head guard and is housed in its original #509 plush-lined case by Geib, Inc. which has been embellished with two large bald eagle decals.  The original Grover “pancake” tuners were installed on the 1939 replacement neck; close examination reveals that the Gibson factory plugged the eight small screw holes in the back of the peghead which had previously been drilled for installation of the then-current “two-tab” Kluson tuners.  There is an old crack in the resonator sidewall and a repaired break at the neck heel.

The longtime owner of #664-7 was Richard Harter of Lebanon, Pennsylvania, who is said to have bought the banjo in a pawn shop.  The lid of the banjo case bears a gash which, according to family lore, was caused by Mr. Harter’s axe-wielding wife when he returned home late one night after an evening of playing the banjo in a local “joint”.  The banjo remained in Mr. Harter’s family until February 2017.

Photos courtesy of Rock Bartley.




Home