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Gibson TB-4 Tenor Banjo (1922)

Gibson  TB-4 Tenor Banjo  (1922)

Gibson TB-4 Model Tenor Banjo (1922), made in Kalamazoo, Michigan, sunburst finish, laminated maple neck and rim, ebony fingerboard, original black hard shell case.

The Gibson "trap door" TB-4 banjo from this era is a lovely instrument, though not the banjo design the company would be remembered for. These early 1920's Gibson banjos have the feel of having been designed by and for mandolin player - as indeed they were. While never particularly popular among tenor banjo players, they are beautifully built instruments with an attractive nouveau esthetic all their own. The narrow short scale neck is a 3-way flame maple/ebony laminate with a dot-inlayed extended ebony fingerboard bound in grained ivoroid. The single-bound "moccasin" headstock is veneered with ebony and inlayed with a slanted "The Gibson" logo and slotted diamond and fleur-de-lys designs. The heel, rim and "trap door" resonator are ivoroid bound. The beautifully flamed maple trapdoor also has a ring of inlayed wood and an ivoroid bound "peephole" and is finished in a striking cherry sunburst.

The bound heel is also sunburst and the back of the head is black with a point faired into the neck's ebony stripe. The tuners are nickel two-on-a-plate with amber celluloid buttons. The nut is pearl, an unusual but very attractive characteristic of top-line Gibsons of this era. The rim is cherry-stained maple capped with ebony. The tube hook/nut bearing used on this banjo would become half of the "tube and plate" flange system when the "plate" flange was added. This banjo is one of the earliest to feature a single co-coordinator rod, mounted here below the traditional wooden dowel and marked "Patent Applied for".

The nickel-plated tailpiece cover has "The Gibson" and decorative designs impressed. The rim is solid but with no tone ring (Lloyd Loar's "ball bearing" ring would be introduced shortly after this one was built) but the flat plate "trap door" resonator can be opened or closed to alter the tone of the banjo; this instrument would have been one of the earliest to feature this system. Inside the rim is a gold "Gibson Guarantee" label and impressed serial number. The original green-plush lined shaped case is included. This was an expensive ($150) instrument in its day, equivalent to the F-4 mandolin and L-4 guitar and indeed was top of the line until the Style 5 Master Model line was introduced. A fine playable piece of 1920's Gibson history for the enthusiast or collector, and a cool instrument in its own right.
Overall length is 29 in. (73.7 cm.), 10 7/16 in. (26.5 cm.) diameter head, and 2 7/8 in. (7.3 cm.) in depth, measured at side of rim. Scale length is 19 in. (483 mm.). Width of nut is 1 3/16 in. (30 mm.). Stupendously well preserved; this 90-year-old Gibson has some slight signs of wear but appears completely original and unaltered. The original Rodgers head is present (with a few stains) and still sounds great; the sculpted Gibson bridge has had the top re-surfaced slightly but remains amazingly intact. Some light fret wear and a couple of finish rubs on the back of the neck but overall the finish still shines, the plating is bright and untarnished and it plays as well as it did when new. Includes an excellent original green-lined HSC and the original wrench; we wish all 1920's Gibsons still looked like this! Excellent + Condition.

Item # 5443
This item has been sold.

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