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NMM 2695.  Tenor banjo by Gibson Mandolin-Guitar Manufacturing Company, Kalamazoo, ca. 1923.
Style TB-4.  Batch number 11041A-49.
Gift of Jay F. Miller, Franklin, Pennsylvania, 1980.

NMM 2695.  Tenor banjo by Gibson Mandolin-Guitar Manufacturing Company, Kalamazoo, Michigan, ca. 1923

This Gibson Mastertone tenor banjo features a short-lived resonator design that allowed the player to open a hinged door on what Gibson literature called the "tone projector." This feature led such instruments to be nicknamed "trap-door" banjos. Though the trap door allowed easy access to the interior of the instrument and permitted it to be used as an open back or a resonator banjo, the design did not catch on and was soon discontinued. This TB-4 banjo was originally sold with a pickguard, which was removed from the instrument at some point.


Front, Side, and Back Views with Tone Projector ("Trap Door") Closed

NMM 2695.  Tenor banjo by Gibson Mandolin-Guitar Manufacturing Company, Kalamazoo, Michigan, ca. 1923 Treble side view Bass side view Back view, trap door closed


Back Views with Tone Projector ("Trap Door") Open and Removed

Back view with trap door open Treble side with trap door open Bass side with trap door open Back, trap door removed


Side and Underside Views of Trap Door

View inside banjo through trap door Underside of trap door



Back of body

Back of Body with Trap Door Removed and
Signature of Banjo Head Manufacturer

Maker of banjo head


Fretboard, Front and Back of Peghead, and Back of Neck

Fretboard Front of peghead Back of peghead Back of neck


Neck Heel

Neck Heel


Lower End of Banjo

Lower end of banjo


Gibson Guarantee Label

Gibson Guarantee Label


Literature:  Joseph R. Johnson, Mandolin Clubs and Orchestras in the United States (1880-1920):  Their Origin, History and Instruments, M.M. Thesis (Vermillion: University of South Dakota, 1987), pp. 75, 107.

Joseph R. Johnson, "The Mandolin Orchestra in America, Part 3: Other Instruments," American Lutherie, No. 21 (Spring 1990), p. 52.

Joseph R. Johnson, "The Mandolin Orchestra in America," The Big Red Book of American Lutherie, Volume Two, 1988-1990 (Tacoma, Washington: Guild of American Luthiers, 2000), p. 277.

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