Following the introduction of the Mastertone line in 1925, Gibson’s banjo designs continued to evolve. The tone ring changed from the ball-bearing type to a no-hole archtop tone ring to the forty-hole archtop ring seen here. The head tension hardware also made the transition from a grooved hoop with flat hooks to the notched hoop and round hooks used on this banjo.
The next step in Gibson banjo evolution, the one-piece flange, was just around the corner when this original five-string RB-3 was produced in 1929 (see Gibson banjo serial numbers vs. factory order numbers). The least expensive Gibson Mastertone banjo, style 3, was also the most popular. This example conforms to standard specifications for this model at the time with a dark-stained maple neck and resonator, a two-piece flange, nickel plating, a Presto tailpiece, a 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.
This banjo remains in original condition with its friction fifth-string peg intact and shows only normal playing wear.
Photos courtesy S. Venema/Palm Guitars.