Gibson TB-3 Mastertone #9550-40



Style 3 was the least expensive model in Gibson's Mastertone line.   It was introduced in 1925 and remained in production through 1937, when its price was lowered from $100 to $75 and it was renamed style 75By 1929, the forty-hole archtop tone ring was standard on the style 3 tenor, or TB-3, while the PB-3 plectrum and RB-3 five-string were typically seen with the twenty-hole flathead ring.  This example is a rare original flathead tenor with an uncut Mastertone label, and is the only known original flathead from lot #9550.  The tenor neck is no longer with the banjo and it is not known what inlay pattern it had.  The wreath inlay five-string neck is by Ronnie Bales and the resonator was reskinned in the 1980s by Jimmy Cox.

Style 3 banjos from lot 9550 (see Gibson banjo serial numbers vs. factory order numbers) have been seen with a number of unusual features, indicating that Gibson may have used this lot as an opportunity to clear out some leftover parts.  #9550-13 is equipped with a mute-style armrest but no internal mute mechanics are present; #9550-33 lacks a Mastertone block; #9550-36 features an unusual inlay combination; and #9550-47 has full wreath inlays.

Photos courtesy of an anonymous collector.