Gibson introduced its new Mastertone banjo line with convex resonators and perforated metal flanges in 1925, establishing the basic look of the Mastertone banjo which has remained to the present day. The least-expensive banjo in the new Mastertone line was style 3 with cordovan-stained straight-grain maple and nickel-plated hardware. Like the other early Mastertone models, style 3 banjos featured a tubular tone ring suspended by an elaborate system of ball-bearings and springs sunk into the wooden rim. Mastertones from 1925 are readily indentifiable by two features unique to that year: The ball-bearing tone ring has holes on the outside skirt and the Mastertone logo appears on the peghead inlaid in small individual letters rather than on the fingerboard engraved in a mother of pearl block.
The original owner of TB-3 #8116-31 was Erving Schneider (1901-1976). The banjo remains in Mr. Schneider’s family in excellent, unaltered condition with its original plush-lined #509 Geib and Schaefer case.
Photos courtesy of the family of Erving Schneider.