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Identify a Gibson Mastertone

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Jun 15, 2019 - 4:52:10 AM
4 posts since 6/15/2019

Need help to identify a Gibson Mastertone that I recently inherited. Anything would be greatly appreciated. See attached photos. Thank you in advance.




 

Edited by - sam706 on 06/15/2019 04:58:58

Jun 15, 2019 - 5:23:34 AM

Fathand

Canada

11375 posts since 2/7/2008

Really hard to tell from these undetailed pics. Need closeup of more parts. Might be a 27 RB3?

What is the ser # inside the rim?

Edited by - Fathand on 06/15/2019 05:25:23

Jun 15, 2019 - 5:31:29 AM

400 posts since 5/19/2018

Please post detailed pictures.

Inside, with a clear picture of the serial number.
Picture of the back.
Picture of the side
Close up of the peg head. Front and back

This could be a RB-3. Or TB-3 conversion. 1926- early 1929

Pictures will help to tell.

Jun 15, 2019 - 5:33:23 AM

4 posts since 6/15/2019

Ser.# 8762-30

Jun 15, 2019 - 5:51:34 AM

4 posts since 6/15/2019

More photos




 

Jun 15, 2019 - 5:59:26 AM

4 posts since 6/15/2019

More photos




 

Jun 15, 2019 - 7:04:47 AM
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2636 posts since 5/29/2011

This is a 1927 style 3. The FON is from a large batch of tenor banjos. Someone has made a conversion neck for this one and it looks like they did a very nice job. The Diamonds and Squares inlay was typical of the style 3 from that era. The forty hole tone ring is common in banjos of that vintage as well.

Jun 15, 2019 - 7:05:26 AM

72 posts since 9/2/2014

#8762-31 is a 1927 TB3 with an archtop no hole tonering

Jun 15, 2019 - 7:05:58 AM
Players Union Member

RioStat

USA

4896 posts since 10/12/2009

1927 style 3

Archtop tone ring, tube and plate flange

Probably was originally a TB (tenor banjo, 4 string) and has had a conversion, 5 string neck put on it., although there were some RB's in the 8762 batch

Nice, vintage Bluegrass banjo

What history do you know about it?

Edited by - RioStat on 06/15/2019 07:06:54

Jun 15, 2019 - 7:07:18 AM
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1017 posts since 7/12/2004

The pictures show a 40 hole ring.

Jun 15, 2019 - 9:28:47 AM

2636 posts since 5/29/2011

The banjo after it has a no hole tone ring as does the one after it but this one has holes. The first two banjos in this batch that are listed are five strings. One has Diamonds and Squares inlay with the Mastertone on the peghead, the other has Wreath inlay. Nothing about Gibson banjos is absolute.

Sam, if you are wondering where our information comes from, this is it.

http://banjophiles.com

Edited by - Culloden on 06/15/2019 09:31:00

Jun 16, 2019 - 2:48:19 PM

2316 posts since 4/16/2003

1927's are particularly known for NOT having holes in the rings (perhaps some made later in the year did, as holes became standard in 1928).

My guess:
a. Ring is original, but somebody drilled holes in it after it left the factory
b. Ring got swapped for a 40-hole ring (for reasons unknown)
c. Ring IS a factory-original 40-hole ring that somehow got installed into this instrument (would probably require close examination by someone "who knows").

Jun 16, 2019 - 7:02:23 PM

12038 posts since 10/30/2008

I am not at all surprised to find a 40 hole tone ring in a 1927. MANY 1927s had 40 hole tone rings. Just because the rim was stamped with a 1927 FON doesn't mean it perhaps wasn't ASSEMBLED and shipped at a later date.

Knowing nothing more about this banjo, I am totally willing to believe the tone ring is original to the banjo.

Check out Banjophiles to see 40 holes rings scattered throughout 1926 and 1927 and 1928 Mastertones.

http://www.banjophiles.com/SerNumData/8XXX.htm

Edited by - The Old Timer on 06/16/2019 19:04:12

Jun 16, 2019 - 7:06:23 PM
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1017 posts since 7/12/2004

You shouldn't draw conclusions from the list. Gibson was completely unpredictable about the way they configured their banjos, and just because -29 and -31 were solid archtops doesn't mean -30 was too. The Banjophiles list is full of batches that have both solid and 40 hole rings, throughout the production run of archtops. Gibson simply didn't care, and would send out banjos with whatever parts were on the shelf. Batch 8532 from 1926 has both solid and 40 hole rings. Batch 8977, from which I owned -94 (a 40 hole), had both types of rings in 1928. Solid archtop rings seem to phase out after 1929, but the idea that Gibson progressed from solid archtop to 40-hole is refuted by the production records.

Even though it's reasonable to guess that batches are all the same, every Gibson banjo should be taken as an individual. About the only thing that seems totally consistent is the flange type - I don't think there are any batches with mixed one and two piece flanges. Makes sense since everything from the rim profile to the heel cut is incompatible between the two flange types. But everything else can vary within a batch - inlay, tone ring, neck type (obviously), even banjo style and wood. The Banjophiles list is a good clue and a mismatch there is a red flag, but almost nothing is impossible.

Jun 17, 2019 - 5:13:38 AM
like this

1279 posts since 10/5/2006

quote:
Originally posted by waystation

You shouldn't draw conclusions from the list. Gibson was completely unpredictable about the way they configured their banjos, and just because -29 and -31 were solid archtops doesn't mean -30 was too. The Banjophiles list is full of batches that have both solid and 40 hole rings, throughout the production run of archtops. Gibson simply didn't care, and would send out banjos with whatever parts were on the shelf. Batch 8532 from 1926 has both solid and 40 hole rings. Batch 8977, from which I owned -94 (a 40 hole), had both types of rings in 1928. Solid archtop rings seem to phase out after 1929, but the idea that Gibson progressed from solid archtop to 40-hole is refuted by the production records......
________________________________________________________________________

Tone rings – holes or no holes………..

In the early twenties, Gibson hired Lloyd Loar, as an audio engineer, to improve on the design of their products. One such improvement was the “tone-tube” which led to the ball-bearing tone system and ultimately the raised head and flat head cast tone rings.

In the August 1923 issue of “The Gibsonite”, Lloyd described the tone tube as follows:

The head is stretched over a tone-tube in place of the usual bearing band. This tube is comparatively large, containing almost 30 cubic inches and being over 1 ½ inches in circumference. It is pierced at regular and carefully determined intervals with holes which regulate its sensitiveness and tune the contained air to a pitch in proper proportion to the average pitch of the instrument, the pitch of the head and that of the tone-projector-formed air chamber under the head. These small tone-tube sound-holes are moreover planned so that they are in the same plane as the lines of force from the pull of the head on the tone-tube. The material of this tube, its size, the number, size and position of the sound-holes were all planned carefully so that in addition to the efficient air chamber mentioned above, the resistance of this tube to the pull of the head is so exactly adjusted (when the head is the correct tightness) that unless impeded by friction with the rim, this tone-tube more than doubles the vibratory activity of the head by adding its own responsiveness to string vibration. All this, mind you, in addition to the auxiliary air chamber which it furnishes.”

The Ball Bearing tone ring system was without question a major step forward, but it proved to be prohibitively expensive to produce, as well as a nightmare for head replacement in the field. I would not be surprised if this issue alone was the cause of heated discussions between Loar and Gibson management resulting in his departure in 1925.

It would appear that immediately after Loar’s departure, Gibson was hard at work redesigning the Mastertone rim assembly to achieve the results comparable to the ball-bearing system, but at much lower production cost while also simplifying field maintenance. These engineering efforts produced the cast raised head tone ring design.

Now this is what I think happened. There probably were those at Gibson who doubted the need for the expense of drilling all those holes in the casting in spite of Loar’s persuasive language, while others undoubtedly saw the need to retain them. My observations point to a decision to manufacture a large enough quantity of both types, holes and no holes, to randomly install in production for definitive testing and feedback from the field. Evidently that testing and feedback pointed to the retention of the holes, despite the higher production cost. The 40-hole ring became the standard by 1929 as the no-hole rings were used up and not replenished.

The same thing seems to have occurred in late 1928 and early 1929 with the introduction of the flat head tone ring design, and early versions of both 20-hole and no-hole rings were produced concurrently and used randomly. Again, the results from the 20-hole ring edged out the lower cost no-hole version and became the standard flat ring through the thirties and forties.

 

Jun 17, 2019 - 9:20:16 AM

9959 posts since 6/2/2008

quote:
Originally posted by Oldtwanger

In the August 1923 issue of “The Gibsonite”, Lloyd described the tone tube as follows:

The head is stretched over a tone-tube in place of the usual bearing band. This tube is comparatively large, containing almost 30 cubic inches and being over 1 ½ inches in circumference. It is pierced at regular and carefully determined intervals with holes which regulate its sensitiveness and tune the contained air to a pitch in proper proportion to the average pitch of the instrument, the pitch of the head and that of the tone-projector-formed air chamber under the head. These small tone-tube sound-holes are moreover planned so that they are in the same plane as the lines of force from the pull of the head on the tone-tube. The material of this tube, its size, the number, size and position of the sound-holes were all planned carefully so that in addition to the efficient air chamber mentioned above, the resistance of this tube to the pull of the head is so exactly adjusted (when the head is the correct tightness) that unless impeded by friction with the rim, this tone-tube more than doubles the vibratory activity of the head by adding its own responsiveness to string vibration. All this, mind you, in addition to the auxiliary air chamber which it furnishes.”


I wonder whether anyone has ever discovered records or actual evidence of Loar's self-described careful planning and the calculations that support claims such as the holes tuned the tube to a particular pitch, were placed in the same plane as the line of pull force from the head and that the tube "more than doubles the vibratory activity of the head."   How did he measure these things? Did he actually conduct experiments on iterative designs until reaching the final production version?

Edited by - Old Hickory on 06/17/2019 09:20:55

Jun 17, 2019 - 10:20:36 AM

1279 posts since 10/5/2006

quote:
Originally posted by Old Hickory
quote:
Originally posted by Oldtwanger

In the August 1923 issue of “The Gibsonite”, Lloyd described the tone tube as follows:

The head is stretched over a tone-tube in place of the usual bearing band. This tube is comparatively large, containing almost 30 cubic inches and being over 1 ½ inches in circumference. It is pierced at regular and carefully determined intervals with holes which regulate its sensitiveness and tune the contained air to a pitch in proper proportion to the average pitch of the instrument, the pitch of the head and that of the tone-projector-formed air chamber under the head. These small tone-tube sound-holes are moreover planned so that they are in the same plane as the lines of force from the pull of the head on the tone-tube. The material of this tube, its size, the number, size and position of the sound-holes were all planned carefully so that in addition to the efficient air chamber mentioned above, the resistance of this tube to the pull of the head is so exactly adjusted (when the head is the correct tightness) that unless impeded by friction with the rim, this tone-tube more than doubles the vibratory activity of the head by adding its own responsiveness to string vibration. All this, mind you, in addition to the auxiliary air chamber which it furnishes.”


I wonder whether anyone has ever discovered records or actual evidence of Loar's self-described careful planning and the calculations that support claims such as the holes tuned the tube to a particular pitch, were placed in the same plane as the line of pull force from the head and that the tube "more than doubles the vibratory activity of the head."   How did he measure these things? Did he actually conduct experiments on iterative designs until reaching the final production version?


Perhaps.  Or maybe Marketing embellishing LLoyd's thoughts.  It seems obvious to me that Loar had at least a working knowledge of tuned cavity resonances.

Jun 17, 2019 - 2:33:29 PM

8817 posts since 1/15/2005

Frank .... guessing that his knowledge plus the old fashioned "swag" and "trial and error" methods worked pretty well ...... or with their first banjos OK.

Jun 18, 2019 - 2:45:51 PM

2316 posts since 4/16/2003

Look very carefully at the two pics posted above that reveal "the holes" in the tone ring.

To my eye, their spacing doesn't look to me like an original 40-hole "from the factory".

I could be wrong, but I think that was originally a solid archtop that had holes "added" at a later date...

Jun 18, 2019 - 5:06:18 PM
Players Union Member

RioStat

USA

4896 posts since 10/12/2009

quote:
Originally posted by J.Albert

Look very carefully at the two pics posted above that reveal "the holes" in the tone ring.

To my eye, their spacing doesn't look to me like an original 40-hole "from the factory".

I could be wrong, but I think that was originally a solid archtop that had holes "added" at a later date...


Not only does the spacing of the holes look "suspect".....but if you enlarge or zoom in on the photos of the tone ring, it seems to me that the inside walls of the holes look like raw brass, color-wise, indicating holes drilled after the ring was plated.

Jun 18, 2019 - 6:57:16 PM

91 posts since 1/24/2019

Uneven hole spacing is not all that uncommon on early Gibson tonerings

Jun 19, 2019 - 7:44:31 PM

303 posts since 12/14/2008

quote:
Originally posted by RioStat
quote:
Originally posted by J.Albert

Look very carefully at the two pics posted above that reveal "the holes" in the tone ring.

To my eye, their spacing doesn't look to me like an original 40-hole "from the factory".

I could be wrong, but I think that was originally a solid archtop that had holes "added" at a later date...


Not only does the spacing of the holes look "suspect".....but if you enlarge or zoom in on the photos of the tone ring, it seems to me that the inside walls of the holes look like raw brass, color-wise, indicating holes drilled after the ring was plated.


All 40 hole arch top rings were drilled after they were plated. That’s why they all have burs from drilling and bronze showing. I know mine all have. 

Jun 19, 2019 - 7:48:23 PM

303 posts since 12/14/2008

A lot of people make a big fuss about no hole arch top rings. To me, nothing is as good of sounding arch top as a good 40 hole set up right. Don’t get me wrong, I love no holes too. I just don’t think it makes that much diffemce. I will explain.
I have had many 40 holes and I have switched a no hole ring out with one in the past and it still sounded like that banjo. To me the wood rim and neck make more of a difference in tone than the ring having holes or not. Just my observation. By the way, I’m looking for a no hole arch top ring right now if anyone has one for a decent price. Lol

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