1923 Gibson TB-4 Tenor Banjo

This customer's Gibson tenor really does pump-out classiness, huh? It's bound all-over (including the heel) and even has the fleur-de-lis in the headstock. A ruddy sunburst finish on the neck and "black-brown" on the side of the rim complete the snazzy look.

This instrument is identical to other average early TB-4s save that it doesn't have the trap-door resonator and -- considering that there are no holes on the back of the rim -- never did. It's a short-scale instrument with a slim-to-medium C-shaped neck, flat board, and a quick feel. The archtop-style tonering build gives it a cleaner sound than one expects. Even with its funky old original skin head, it still sounds poppy and fun.

Work on this was just a setup and a replacement bridge. Some of the frets needed reseating, but it was otherwise in good order. I wish I'd had a slightly-nicer bridge on hand, but the all-maple '50s one I stuck on there was the right size and string spacing so it won the position. It appears to be all-original save the bridge and the nut.

A coordinator rod is a nice friend to have when setup-time comes around.

These geared banjo tuners yielded to guitar-style tuners for a few years on the TBs before going back to different banjo-style geared tuners again later-on.

Gibson's hollow-hoop bracket band and retaining "bump" at the side of the rim is an exceedingly well-thought-out piece of engineering. Every time one of these old guys is in I appreciate the design aesthetic. I get tired of the chore of tightening-up banjo shoes and adding washers when they've dug into the inside of the rim when I'm fixing old banjos.