Gibson TB-3 Mastertone #8824-47, the "Lee Mayo"

#8824-47 Gibson Mastertone banjo TB-3 front

#8824-47 Gibson Mastertone banjo TB-3 peghead    #8824-47 Gibson Mastertone banjo TB-3 Mastertone block    #8824-47 Gibson Mastertone banjo TB-3 back

#8824-47 Gibson Mastertone banjo TB-3 hardware    #8824-47 Gibson Mastertone banjo TB-3 factory order number in rim    #8824-47 Gibson Mastertone banjo TB-3 factory order number in resonator    #8824-47 Gibson Mastertone banjo TB-3 case    #8824-47 Gibson Mastertone banjo TB-3 case open

#8824-47 Gibson Mastertone banjo TB-3 Lee Mayo

A number of Gibson's Mastertone banjos manufactured circa 1927 featured a raised-head tone ring with no holes, as opposed to the forty-hole raised-head ring which would become the standard in the later 1920s.  #8824-47 is a TB-3 equipped with one of these no-hole tone rings along with the catalog-standard two-piece flange, notched tension hoop, and fiddle-shaped peghead; the wood is straight-grain maple with a reddish-brown finish and binding on both edges of the resonator.

The previous owner of #8824-47 was Lee Mayo (August 15, 1915--October 18, 2006), a lifelong resident of Corsica, Pennsylvania, who is pictured above with the banjo while stationed in the Philippines during World War II.  Mr. Mayo's grandson relates, "several of his siblings were also musicians, and I believe they were in at least two bands. . . he bought a fancy Kay with his war bonus, but it disappeared, although I have the case.  He played daily until arthritis forced him to stop when he was in his eighties." Mr. Mayo's grandson also reports that his grandfather sent this TB-3 back to Gibson at least once for refretting; Gibson's standard operating procedure in past decades was to simply replace the fingerboard once frets became too worn, thus explaining the banjo's current fingerboard featuring postwar "bowtie" inlays.  Mr. Mayo owned a number of other Gibson banjos, including PB-00 #FG-2539.

Photos courtesy of the family of Lee Mayo.
 


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