Gibson banjo fans always associate the company's solid archtop tone ring (no holes) with 1927, but this RB-3 is from January of 1928 and so has the same tone ring Gibson was using in the prior year. This was probably constructed around the time the 40-hole archtop tone ring was introduced, and that newer version was possibly already going into tenor banjo models. Five string banjos were a low priority for Gibson at this point as they represented only a small fraction of banjo sales. The wood rim of this RB-3 also shows an additional maple lamination just under the tone ring, obviously added before the rim was stained and finished. This factory-modified rim construction, which is certainly not unique, was apparently the result of Gibson choosing to use rims originally cut for their earlier ball-bearing tone ring system.

There are two things about this RB-3 that are not factory original. One is the crack to the back of the headstock, which was glued decades ago but no attempt was made to conceal the repair. The other change is harder to spot and that's finish work done to the sides of the resonator necessitated by moisture damage (which can also be seen at the bottom of the case). This finish work was confined to only the sides of the resonator and not the back, and the owner remembers it dating to the late 1970s/early'80s period.

All the metal parts and finish on this banjo (except the resonator sides) is original, including the frets. Wear to the back of the neck is obvious, and of course the head and bridge and strings have been changed. The bottom portion of the case is in poor condition but at least the original case is there. If we're shipping this to the new owner it will need to be shipped in a better case, which we're happy to provide.

stock no. 55818

ModelRB-3 Solid archtop tone ring 5 String
Fretboard MaterialBrazilian rosewood
Resonatorlaminated maple
Tone ringsolid arch top
Total frets22
Tunersoriginal Grover
CaseOrig. Hard
Serial No8910-2
Diameter11 inch