1930 Gibson Flathead Style 3 Conversion Banjo

$52,500.00 $44,900.00

This is a great sounding old Gibson TB-3 archtop tenor that was converted to 5-str flathead with an old Plectrum neck modified to 5-string, and using a bonafide original Gibson pre-war flathead tonering.


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Exc (-) condition. Originally made by Gibson as an archtop TB-3 with Hearts & Flowers inlay. Steve Huber converted it to a Flathead with a Huber tone ring, and a Wreath 5-str neck by Robin Smith was attached. A few years later the banjo was acquired by our local player. This owner liked the banjo, but wanted it to be “bigger and better”. He purchased a bonefide original Gibson unplated pre-war Flathead tonering which he installed. Next he hunted for and found a 1930’s Gibson Mahogany Plectrum neck and had it converted to a 5-string Wreath neck, retaining original inlays and maintaining original peghead.

We are not sure when the neck was converted, or who did the job, but it was a very difficult undertaking that was done quite well. Remember, a plectrum neck is exactly the same thing as a 5-string neck as far as scale length and number frets. The only difference is no fifth string. This conversion was done by removing the fingerboard, adding mahogany to the left and right side of neck, and then installing a new fingerboard. The new fingerboard has original Wreath inlays in the original fingerboard wood at 3, 5, 7, 10, 12, 15, 17, 19, fret positions. 22nd fret has new inlay. At a casual glance, it looks like an original fingerboard. Cosmetically, the work was done such that it appears an original 5-string neck at first inspection, with bindings matching the original bindings of resonator quite well. Wood color and grain are also a good match. Some areas of belt buckle wear on back of resonator. Antique’d cream bindings along fingerboard and along top and back of resonator. Antique’d concentric circles in back of resonator. Original Grover Pat. Pancake tuners in peghead with friction 5th string, all with original screws and original ivoroid buttons. Original one-piece flange is in great shape, with no signs of cracking and no bad bends.

Banjo comes with almost all original hardware. Currently has old 5-string Presto tailpiece installed. Coordinator rods, resonator hardware, hooks & nuts and pot metal tension hoop are all original and all in good shape. Frets have only very light wear. Armrest looks like pre-War “new old stock” but could be original to the banjo.
The unplated pre-War flathead tone ring has been authenticated by several knowledgeable people and comes with a signature stating authenticity from Curtis McPeake.

The tone of this banjo is great. Several very experienced good players from Seattle to Weiser to Minneapolis to Missoula claim this banjo is one of the better sounding pre-war Mahogany Gibsons they’ve played. Several attribute it to the 1930’s neck that has 85-year-old main neck wood which is definitely actively adding resonance and flavor to the banjo. I’ll say it again – This is a fine sounding banjo with great timbre and resonance. Comes w/ 1990s Gibson HC.