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 1930s specifications for style 3 included a one-piece flange, nickel-plated hardware, mahogany neck and resonator with two concentric rings of white/black/white purfling on the back of the resonator, a double-cut peghead, and the leaves and bows inlay pattern. The tone ring was typically a forty-hole archtop.
The factory order number 405-5-A (see Gibson banjo serial numbers vs. factory order numbers) is in an unusual format for a prewar Gibson banjo. The letter “A” appears in factory order numbers on some Gibson guitars and mandolins from the 1930s and is thought to denote the year 1935. Its presence on this banjo is an example of Gibson’s somewhat mysterious production and numbering practices during the period.
#405-5-A was originally sold by Levi’s Music Store in Rochester, New York and was played for many years by Rochester resident Edward Mulroney (1890–1970). It remains in fully original, excellent condition.
Photos courtesy of an anonymous collector.