Style 3 was the entry-level model in Gibson’s Mastertone banjo line from 1925 until the model’s designation was changed to style 75 in 1937. This original five-string RB-3 dates to the first year of production (see Gibson banjo serial numbers vs. factory order numbers) and conforms for the most part to standard specifications for this model at the time with a dark-stained maple neck and resonator, a two-piece flange, nickel plating, fiddle-shaped peghead, Grover tuners, and white binding on the back edge of the resonator only. The inlay pattern is the standard “diamonds and squares” pattern although this example features a rare ebony fingerboard rather than the typical rosewood.
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. The tailpiece and case seen here are later replacements.
Photos courtesy of Jack Dubow.