Gibson TB-3 Mastertone #9489-72

Style 3, the least expensive model in Gibson’s prewar Mastertone line, was revamped in 1929.  The model’s straight-grained maple changed to mahogany, two concentric rings of white/black/white purfling were added to the back of the resonator, the brass tube-and-plate flange was replaced by a one-piece cast metal flange, and the headstock shape and inlay patterns also changed.  #9489-72 (see Gibson banjo serial numbers vs. factory order numbers) is from one of the first lots of style 3 instruments made in this “new” configuration; it remains in original condition with the exception of a neck repair, replaced frets, and an old overspray on the resonator.  The banjo is equipped with a “Vibrato Tone-Master” mute-type armrest; the internal mute mechanics have been removed but there is a corresponding hole in the rim.

Gibson’s factory shipping ledgers record the return of this banjo to the “Music Shop” (location unknown) on January 22, 1948 following an unspecified repair.

Photos courtesy of an anonymous owner.