Gibson TB-3 Mastertone #9259-37, the “Bill Umeck”

#9259-37 dates to 1929 and is a catalog-standard example of the least-expensive banjo in Gibson’s Mastertone line shortly before the model was redesigned later that 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 TB-3 remains in original condition with the exception of replaced tuners and is housed in its original plush-lined #509 Geib and Schaefer case.  The longtime owner of #9259-37 was Bill Umeck (February 14, 1919–August 18, 2002) of Niles, Ohio.  Mr. Umeck’s son reports that his father played in Slovenian polka bands in the 1930s and 1940s in Ohio and Pennsylvania; he is belived to have bought this banjo used shortly after World War II.

Photos courtesy of Anthony Sprino.