“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.”
#9580-5 (see Gibson banjo serial numbers vs. factory order numbers) is a previously undocumented 1930 Mastertone plectrum which, until early in 2010, had spent its entire life in the small town of Liscomb, Iowa. 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.
I’ve created a separate page documenting the disassembly, cleaning, and reassembly of this banjo by luthier Mark Bramlett.
“As-found” photos courtesy of Tom Barnwell.