Style 3 was the least expensive model in Gibson’s Mastertone line. It was introduced in 1925 and remained in production through 1937, when its price was lowered from $100 to $75 and it was renamed style 75. While the style 3 of the 1920s had a two-piece flange with maple neck and resonator, a fiddle-shaped peghead and the diamonds and squares inlay pattern, the style changed in 1929 to the configuration seen here. The flange is one-piece; the wood is mahogany with two white/black/white purfling rings on the back of the resonator, and the peghead shape is double-cut. There is single white binding on the neck and on both edges of the resonator. The tone ring is a forty-hole archtop, and the tailpiece is a Grover Presto.
While most style 3 banjos of this period have the leaves and bows inlay pattern in a rosewood fingerboard, they are also sometimes seen with the wreath pattern or the flying eagle pattern shown here. #158-11 (see Gibson banjo serial numbers vs. factory order numbers) is unusual in that its peghead inlay is that normally found on style 4 and Granada banjos of the period.
Photos courtesy of George Stahl.