“There is something about the plectrum Banjo that brings to the player a feeling of complete satisfaction”, enthused an early 1930s Gibson catalog. “Warm, glowing harmony–velvety chords–brilliant tones that are smooth, round and solid as the peal of an organ.” The same catalog declared the style 3 plectrum banjo to be “an outstanding value–eminently fitted for all musical purposes.”
#9524-17 (see Gibson banjo serial numbers vs. factory order numbers) is a 1930 Mastertone plectrum which is now equipped with a five-string neck by Jim Grainger of Sparta, Tennessee. The original resonator and flange were broken at some point; the banjo is now equipped with a replacement prewar flange and a resonator from TB-3 #9465-5. The tailpiece is an original five-string prewar Presto. The original twenty-hole flathead tone ring weighs three pounds, two ounces. This banjo is one of a very small number of style 3 Mastertones from this period featuring the intricate “wreath” inlay pattern which had been standard on the gold-plated, engraved style 5 Mastertone of the 1920s; style 5 had just been discontinued and Gibson used up their surplus wreath inlays on these small runs of style 3 banjos.
Photos courtesy of an anonymous owner.