Gibson MB-3 Mastertone #9204-37

Prewar Gibson literature promised that the mandolin-banjo combined “a certain portion of the mandolin sweetness with brilliancy, volume and tone quality of the banjo into one marvelous instrument.”  Gibson had heavily promoted mandolin orchestras in its earlier years, and with the increased popularity of banjo ensembles in the 1920s the mandolin-banjo was touted as providing an essential “sweet soprano voice in the banjo band.”

This 1928 (see Gibson banjo serial numbers vs. factory order numbers) MB-3 features the same pot construction found on other style 3 Mastertone banjos of the period, with a two-piece flange and forty-hole raised-head tone ring.  The mandolin neck has fifteen frets and is inlaid with the “diamonds and squares” pattern which was standard on style 3 Mastertones at the time.  A look underneath the mandolin neck’s extended fingerboard shows that Gibson’s fingerboard were cut all the way through for inlaying, with the mother-of-pearl pieces being inserted from the back.  The banjo is accompanied by its original #393 plush-lined case and has been converted to five-string with a neck by First Quality Music.

Photos courtesy of Steve Jones.