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 1927 (see Gibson banjo serial numbers vs. factory order numbers) and conforms to standard specifications for this model at the time with a dark-stained maple neck and resonator, a two-piece flange, nickel plating, Presto tailpiece, fiddle-shaped peghead, Grover tuners, white binding on the neck and both edges of the resonator, and a Brazilian rosewood fingerboard with diamonds and squares inlays. The tone ring is the no-hole raised-head type frequently seen on 1927 and 1928 Mastertones before the forty-hole raised-head tone ring became standard.
#8705-9 remains in excellent original condition in its original #521 hard case by Geib and Schaefer. The “Made in the U.S.A.” stamp on the back of the peghead and the “Made in U.S.A.” sticker inside the resonator are typical of prewar Gibson banjos originally shipped outside the United States, but the original destination of this banjo is not known.
Photos courtesy of Dr. Jonathan Finder.