Gibson RB-3 Mastertone #8910-2, the “Mrs. Powell Newman”

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 1928 (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 archtop type seen in the transitional period between the earlier ball-bearing tone ring and the later forty-hole archtop ring.

Former owner John Bowles, tells us a little more about this beautiful original five-string Mastertone:

“Here are the only four photos I have of this banjo.  It belonged to Mrs. Powell Newman of Salisbury, North Carolina.  I found out about the banjo through someone at work at the Salisbury office where I worked two days a week for the bank I worked for at the time.  It was her dad’s banjo, and I didn’t get her maiden name. . . she probably mentioned it, but my memory won’t dig it out just now.  The photos were taken October 1975.”

Photos courtesy of John Bowles.