The Twelfth Fret ~ Since 1977 ~

❌SOLD❌ Gibson TB 3 Mastertone Tenor Banjo, 1927-28


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Built from 1925 to 1937, the Gibson TB 3 Mastertone tenor banjo was a popular though relatively unadorned instrument, used in jazz and banjo orchestras. As the popularity of tenor instruments waned, many of these banjos were converted with 5-string necks. This example is in largely original condition, save for the tuners and tailpiece.

The Gibson TB 3 Mastertone tenor banjo – the TB actually stands for Tenor Banjo – features a plain Maple rim and resonator, with Mahogany for the neck and Rosewood, likely Brazilian given the date, for the fingerboard. The tone ring and flange designs changed at least three times during the TB 3’s production. Initial 1925 and early 1926 models used a classic ball-bearing tone ring, then for later 1926-1928 a solid archtop tone ring, and finally the flathead tone ring for 1929. The flange for the 1925-1928 models is two piece, with the one piece flange appearing in 1929.

At this point, Gibson often did not use serial numbers. On this banjo, the FON or Factory Order Number is 9478-159; the 9478 indicates a particular lot of instruments, and the 159 is the position of this instrument in that lot. With those numbers and the characteristics of the tone ring and flange, this banjo dates to the 1927 or 1928 period.   It was naturally built at the historic Gibson Parsons Street plant in Kalamazoo, Michigan.  

This banjo is in good working order and has been recently set up by Anne Hartman. Fret wear is moderate and the neck is straight. The finish is in good shape, though there are some indications that it was oversprayed at some point. On the back of the resonator, the lacquer appears to have reacted with something it rested against, leading to a ‘stippled’ effect. The tailpiece and tuners are modern replacements for worn-out original parts.

This instrument is sold without case.


Price: $4,700.00 CAD
  • Model: TB 3 Mastertone
  • Year: 1927 | Approximate year
  • Finish Gloss
  • Class: Vintage
  • Serial Number: 9478-159
  • Country of Origin: USA
  • Condition: Good
  • Date Posted: 12/07/2019

  • This instrument has been sold
  • Consignment Item

  • Required CITES documentation
  • Instrument Weight: 10.45lbs 4.75kg
  • Scale Length: 22.75in 577.8mm
  • Nut Width: 1.18in 30mm
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