Gibson GB-3 Mastertone #8448-1

Gibson enjoyed great success in its earlier years by promoting mandolin orchestras composed of mandolins, mandolas, mando-cellos, and mando-basses; the company attempted to replicate this feat in the 1920s by offering an entire line of banjo-family instruments.  “Sopranos, altos, baritones and basses are essential to every well-balanced musical organization,” one prewar Gibson catalog noted.  “This is what Gibson now offers the banjo band.  A complete choir, consisting of Mandolin Banjo, Tenor Banjo, Plectrum Banjo, Cello Banjo, Guitar Banjo and Bass Banjo.”  #8448-1 is a style 3 guitar-banjo dating to 1926 (see Gibson banjo serial numbers vs. factory order numbers) and featuring a ball-bearing tone ring.  The pot conforms for the most part to standard specifications for the style 3 Mastertone of the period, although the dot-inlay fingerboard and peghead inlaid with the old-style “The Gibson” logo differ from those seen on tenor, plectrum, and five-string style 3 Mastertones of the time.

This GB-3 surfaced in a Kansas City pawn shop in the early 1960s. It remains in its original plush-lined hard case; the outlines of the letters “LJC” are still visible on the peghead where they were placed by a previous owner. The original Grover “two-tab” tuners have been replaced but remain with the banjo.

Photos courtesy of an anonymous owner.