Gibson RB-3 Mastertone #8127-12

In 1925 Gibson introduced the flange and resonator arrangement which is still used in their banjos today.  This year also saw the introduction of the “Mastertone” designation for the higher-end banjo models which featured Gibson’s new ball-bearing tone ring. 

The least expensive Gibson Mastertone banjo, style 3, was also the most popular.  This example is a rare original five-string RB-3.  In most respects it conforms to standard specifications for this model at the time with a dark-stained maple neck and resonator, a two-piece flange, a grooved tension hoop with flat hooks, nickel plating, a Presto tailpiece, a fiddle-shaped peghead, and a Brazilian rosewood fingerboard with diamonds and squares inlays.  Although most style 3 banjos from this period had single white binding only on the back of the resonator, this instrument has binding on both resonator edges.  The tailpiece on this example is a replacement prewar Presto and the original tuners have been put in storage and replaced with modern tuners for ease of use.  The banjo retains its original case.

In 1925 only, the Mastertone designation was inlaid on the peghead, under the Gibson logo, rather than in a block on the fingerboard.  Another feature unique to that year is the presence of holes in the outer skirt of the ball-bearing tone ring.

Photos courtesy of an anonymous collector.