Just wanted to send a shoutout to Mr. Greg Earnest of the Earnest Banjo website. He did some detective work on my old Gibson and found several fascinating things that I couldn’t have imagined were discoverable.
Well don't leave us hanging, what did you learn???
Sorry. Ok, here goes. I learned that my MB-3 conversion was made in 1932, not 1934 as I previously thought. This is a one-piece flange banjo with a straight grain maple resonator and dark finish like a TB-1, which made me curious about the Style 3 designation because the resonator is obviously not mahogany with concentric ring inlays. I knew it couldn’t be a TB-1 because it is a Mastertone. Surviving shipping ledgers only go back to March 1935 so this one wouldn’t have been listed, except it went back to the factory for a repair (could have been a head change or neck repair, the entire pot is perfect) and was shipped back out in February 1936 with the ledger entry clearly listing it as an MB-3. I also found out that one-piece flange prewar MB-3s are pretty rare with total production around 70 units. I found out some very interesting background info on the place it was shipped to, as well as info on a couple other MB-3s from the same lot. All of this thanks to Mr. Earnest. It really makes me appreciate the instrument a lot more. If only the old instruments could tell their stories. This particular example was converted to a 5-string with a Frank Neat neck in straight grained maple with matching finish, HR-30 tone ring and setup by Steve Huber. I recently added a prewar original 5-string Presto tailpiece purchased from a fellow forum member and new Rickard tuners that I chemically aged (very carefully) to better match the look and patina of the prewar pot. It’s a fantastic sounding banjo that’s a real joy to play. Now, I just have to get better. I can’t wait to hear it in the hands of someone who can really tear it up.
Originally posted by EnjoyPikin
This is a one-piece flange banjo with a straight grain maple resonator and dark finish like a TB-1, which made me curious about the Style 3 designation because the resonator is obviously not mahogany with concentric ring inlays.
I think the MB-3s, are maple simply because higher model Gibson prewar mandolins were maple. Maybe rare because mandolin banjos weren't as much in demand in the 30's as mandolins in the 20's. I think you'll also find the opf MB-3s have a red stain, like the late 20's TB-3s, rather than the brown stain of a TB-1. There is a mahogany MB-3 on GE's site, 645-1, which I have heard referred to as a Melody Banjo because of the four strings. Possibly a one-off.
You MUST include some photos of your great MB3. The story is terrific, but photos would put this post "over the top" !
Thank you for the kind words and that’s a very interesting and totally plausible point about why the MB-3s are maple. I’m a fairly new member to Banjo Hangout and I sure have learned a lot. I’ll post some photos soon.
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