The way it is presently set-up this banjo has a newer maple resonator – however it comes with the original worn resonator as well. The back of the resonator that’s on the five-string conversion is highly figured maple, which is not the standard wood on a TB-3. Since the person who made the replacement neck made it in flame maple he probably figured “what the heck, let’s replace the resonator.” The first configuration of the Gibson Mastertone tone ring, which debuted in 1925, was the ball bearing. The idea was that the rim was channeled with series of cylindrical holes in which were provided springs, washers and ball bearings – the notion was that on humid days the springs would push up on the skin and keep it taut. Good theory, but it didn’t work. In that initial year the tone ring (and the rim) had a continuous pattern of holes drilled through it on the side of the pot. This banjo started as a tenor but along the way a five-string neck was made for it, by a now-anonymous neck maker, who chose to retain the original inlay pattern from the tenor, which includes a fiddle-cut headstock with the standard diamond above the script Gibson logo, then a four point flower made up of triangles and an etched diamond, then the two stylized lower case “f”s facing left and right and then the original bell-shaped black plastic truss rod cover that had come on the tenor neck. The fingerboard inlays are the standard “diamonds and etched squares” starting on the third fret, and there is a Mastertone block at the 21st. Headstock tuners are geared, nickel-plated, with large pearloid buttons that have large recessed screws at the back of each button; and the Kroll-style geared fifth peg has a slightly differently shaped large pearloid button with a smaller and more conventional screw. The ebony fingerboard is bound in crème and there’s a volute carved on back of neck. We have and will provide the buyer some of the components including original tenor neck, some of (but not apparently all of) the original ball bearing parts for this banjo including the tone ring with the 60 holes, the baggie with springs, washers and ball bearings, and some other components.
Being that this was a ball bearing, it has the “single trough” style stretcher band, and the slimmer hooks with the little bend in each hook that were used on this style banjo of this period. It has a tube-and-plate flange, an added 20-hole flathead tone ring of unknown source, a newer shiny armrest and Presto brand tailpiece, the original twin coordinator rods running through the maple rim, whose finish is worn, especially on the back edge where half the finish is chipped off. It has its original Gibson Mastertone gold oval label which comes up to but is not cut by the tone ring, and, lastly, the rim has its “Pat. Appl. For” pressure stamp and stamped serial number. The new five-string neck is just slightly larger in profile than the expected; it shows tiger-stripe in the maple on the back, but the finish work could have been better and there some dings and signs of wear on the neck. The frets are acceptable for playing but not perfect. It has railroad nails at 7, 9 and 10th frets. It has a newer (but not brand new) white Mylar head. As a conversion to flathead five-string, utilizing a mostly prewar rim, it is more than suitable for use in a bluegrass band that seeks an instrument that has both the guts and the gusto. With two necks, some original parts, and a newer hard shell 5-string case, this is:
THIS WAS PRICED AT $5670 BUT IS NOW ON SALE FOR: