Gibson TB-3 Mastertone #9150-8, the “Ezekiel Walder”

#9150-8 dates to 1928 and is a catalog-standard example of the least-expensive banjo in Gibson’s Mastertone line shortly before the model was redesigned the following year; style 3 remained the lowest-priced, and best-selling, Mastertone from its introduction in 1925 until it was renamed style 75 in 1937.  This example’s only departure from standard specifications is the presence of a mother-of-pearl inlay at the first fret, usually left blank in the “diamonds and squares” pattern.

This TB-3 remains in excellent original condition; removal of the forty-hole raised-head tone ring reveals fingerprints left by the Gibson employee who stained the rim.  The original owner of #9150-8 was Ezekiel Walder (December 1, 1909–July 7, 1985); Mr. Walder’s grandson reports that “during the 1930s and 1940s when the Depression and then war were going on there was not much money, but lots of time to play.  My dad also told me that the family lost their farm (they lived in Kansas), his dad refused to sell the banjo, and the family made its way to California.”

#9150-8 is now housed in a circa 1950s hard case; the banjo remained in the family of Ezekiel Walder until October 2013.