Tuesday, June 18, 2013
New York String Service Musurgia.com
233 Butler Street
Brooklyn, NY 11217
- Fri 12noon - 7pm
Sat 12noon - 6pm
online securely with
Gibson TB-4 Tenor Banjo (1924)
Gibson TB-4 Model Tenor Banjo (1924), made in Kalamazoo, Michigan, Cremona Brown Sunburst finish, flame maple neck and resonator, laminated maple rim,, original black hard shell case.
Here's a "Loar" that won't break the bank! This 1924 TB-4 tenor banjo is a particularly lovely instrument, although not the banjo design that Gibson would eventually be celebrated for. Nonetheless this late production "trapdoor" - built shortly before the beginning of the true Mastertone era - has many of the design and construction features that would soon distinguish that most sought-after banjo line. These pre-1925 Gibson banjos have the feel of having been designed by and for mandolin player - as indeed they were. While never very popular among orchestra tenor banjo players, they are beautifully built instruments with a uniquely attractive nouveau esthetic all their own.
The narrow short 19" 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 and finished in the striking amber brown "Cremona Brown" sunburst rarely seen on this model but famous on the Loar-era Gibson F-5 Mandolins and L-5 guitars.
The heel is a beautiful subtly shaded sunburst while the back of the headstock is black with a point faired into the neck's ebony stripe. The tuners are silver plated engraved two-on-a-plate fancy Waverly gears with real pearl buttons, usually seen on Style 5 Master Model instruments. The nut is also pearl, characteristic of top-line Gibsons of this era. All hardware is silver plated; again unusual for a Style 4 and only a feature of this model for a limited time. The rim is brown-finished maple capped with ebony and carries the Lloyd Loar-designed perforated tubular tone ring resting on ball bearings that was used for the earlier Mastertones until 1927. 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 features the then-new Gibson double co-coordinator rod system for fixing and adjusting the neck which has since become the world's standard. This early example is marked "Patent Applied for" on the lower rod.
The flat plate "trap door" resonator is finished in "Cremona Brown" with an inlaid 3-ply wood ring and celluloid bound edge and cutout. This sprung wooden plate can be locked open or closed to alter the tone and "piquancy" (Gibson's term) of the banjo; this instrument dates to the final year for this system. Most extant trapdoor banjos are of earlier manufacture and do not have the proto-Mastertone features used here. Inside the rim is a gold "Gibson Guarantee" label and impressed serial number-this particular banjo carries the very first lot of the "A Suffix" numbers documented by Spann as used only in 1924.
The original red-plush lined shaped case is included, as are the original wire armrest and ivoroid pickguard, which were optional items. This was quite an expensive ($150) instrument in its day, equivalent in price and status to the F-4 mandolin and L-4 guitar and indeed was top of the line until the short-lived Style TB-5 Master Model line was introduced-this Cremona & silver plated example actually has a number of proto-Style 5 features. This is rare and beautiful banjo in original unaltered condition, and also a fine playable piece of 1920's Gibson artistry.
Overall length is 29 in. (73.7 cm.), 10 1/2 in. (26.7 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.). All original fittings and hardware; fine old but not original skin head and a period Grover "Non-Tip" bridge of very early design. Some light wear, dings and light tarnish to the silver plate, which is worn off in some places but overall well preserved. One split in the fingerboard binding around the dot at the 15th fret, no other damage or repair. Plays excellently, good frets-a very nice example of this rare Gibson TB variant. Includes a period Littig's Tenor Banjo Chord Method in the case. Overall Excellent Condition.
Item # 5453
This item has been sold.
Click on a thumbnail above for a detailed view.