Gibson TB-4 Mastertone Conversion with Frank Neat Neck 5 String Resonator Banjo (1928)

Gibson  TB-4 Mastertone Conversion with Frank Neat Neck 5 String Resonator Banjo  (1928)

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Item # 7586
Prices subject to change without notice.
Gibson TB-4 Mastertone Conversion with Frank Neat Neck Model 5 String Resonator Banjo (1928), made in Kalamazoo, Michigan, serial # 9114-22, dark mahogany lacquer finish, laminated maple/mahogany resonator, laminated maple rim; mahogany neck with rosewood fingerboard, black hard shell case.

This is a very fine Gibson conversion 5-string banjo, with a complete original 1928 TB-4 rim fitted with a very expertly made replica 5-string neck by renowned builder Frank Neat. As original Gibson Mastertone 5-string banjos from this period are almost unobtainable, most of the examples in use today are similarly converted.

The Mastertone TB-4 was a midline banjo, fairly fancy and considered a Gibson classic. The original resonator edge is multi-bound and the back has two circles of wood marquetry inlaid. The rim hardware is chrome-plated, a feature specific to the TB-4 in this period. The tone ring is the 40-hole arch-top Mastertone style, coupled with the earlier two-piece tube-and-plate flange. While this hardware combination is not absolutely favored by modern bluegrass players, it still makes for a very fine-sounding instrument at a price that is a small fraction of what an original flat-head Mastertone rim alone would command.

The mahogany neck is a perfect replica of what a period RB-4 would have carried; the fingerboard and headstock face have a delicate "hearts and flowers" pattern pearl inlay, with side-line binding on the rosewood board. The tuners are later Planets with pearloid buttons, and the tailpiece is a modern Kersher style 5-string piece.

The workmanship on the neck is extremely fine; the original tenor neck is included, and upon comparison the reproduction inlay work is considerably neater than the original! Frank Neat has a sterling reputation for this, and here is a very fine testament to that. This package includes the original receipt from Frank Neat for the neck dated July 1998, along with the tenor case and neck.
Overall length is 37 3/4 in. (95.9 cm.), 11 in. (27.9 cm.) diameter head, and 3 3/4 in. (9.5 cm.) in depth, measured at side of rim. Scale length is 26 1/2 in. (673 mm.). Width of nut is 1 1/4 in. (32 mm.).

This banjo is in fine-playing condition overall, with just some finish wear mostly to the resonator, which after all is 70 years older than the neck! The lacquer there shows numerous dings, dents, and scrapes into the finish and a spot where it looks like perhaps a strap was left in contact with it for some time. The chrome plating on the rim hardware is largely intact, with some small areas of dirt and wear but no major loss. The neck finish is cleaner than the rim but had small dings and chips to the finish, and several added railroad spikes to the fingerboard, with a few holes remaining from previous spike positions.

Overall a great-sounding and playing banjo, one of the nicest tube-and-plate conversions we have heard. Includes the original HSC and Tenor neck, with a newer 5-string HSC. Excellent - Condition.