Gibson TB-3 Mastertone #9478-155
At the time this banjo was made circa 1929 style 3, along with styles 4 and Granada, was making the transition from the two-piece brass flange to the one-piece cast metal flange. For style 3, other specifications changes included a switch from dark-stained maple to brownish-orange stained mahogany, the addition of two purfling rings on the back of the resonator, a change from the fiddle-shaped peghead to the double-cut shape, and a new inlay pattern, leaves and bows, replacing the earlier diamonds and squares. This example is from the last known lot of style 3 banjos to be made to the old specifications; at least one large lot of "new" style 3 banjos, #9465, had already been produced, and indeed a Gibson factory worker made the special note "old TB-3" in chalk just under the factory order number inside the resonator of this banjo.
This banjo retains its original forty-hole archtop tone ring; the tenor neck is unusual in that it is walnut rather than the typical maple. The five-string conversion neck is by Ronnie Bales.
Photos courtesy of Jason Bales.