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. The changeover from style 3 to style 75 was still some time away when this fine example was made. It conforms to standard catalog specifications for a late style 3, with mahogany neck and resonator with two inlaid rings of white/black/white purfling, single white binding on the neck and resonator, a one-piece flange, Presto tailpiece, forty-hole archtop tone ring, nickel plating, and a double-cut peghead and Brazilian rosewood fingerboard with leaves and bows inlays. The sideways first-fret inlay is a variation more commonly seen on style 75 banjos. #312-3 (see Gibson banjo serial numbers vs. factory order numbers) remains in fully original, excellent condition including its metal pickguard, which was likely an aftermarket addition.
Photos courtesy of Melvin Cumbee.