The banjo pictured above is an original five-string RB-3 Mastertone with ball bearing tone ring, made in 1926 (see Gibson banjo serial numbers vs. factory order numbers). It conforms to standard catalog specifications for style 3 for this period with red-stained maple neck and resonator, two-piece flange, grooved tension hoop with flat hooks, nickel plating, Presto tailpiece, fiddle-shaped peghead, diamonds and squares inlay, and Brazilian rosewood fingerboard. The factory order number #8447-2 is stamped inside the wooden rim; the “bin number” 2 is stamped on the end of the neck heel and on the outside of the wooden rim at the neck junction. While Mastertone banjos from the first year of production, 1925, typically featured the word “Mastertone” inlaid in small individual letters in the peghead just under the Gibson logo (see RB-3 #8127-12), this example features an engraved Mastertone block at the twenty-first fret.
The neck and resonator were refinished by Mark Simon at Mandolin Brothers, Ltd. in 1979. The Presto tailpiece appears to have been replated, the tuners and frets have been replaced, and a slot-head screw has been inserted into the top of one of the hex-head resonator screws.
Photos courtesy of an anonymous owner.