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The first resonators were flat, plate-like discs that covered the back of the pot assembly (body) with half the plate hinged to swing out like a trapdoor.
Loar had his hand in developing a floating tone tube with 20 ball-bearing contact points, and a “tuned air chamber.” This was followed by a bolt-on celluloid (Gibson called it “Pyralin”) plate.
The first laminated rims had a cavity between the laminates in the upper portion to act as a “tone chamber,” but the head rested directly on rim rendering the tone chamber virtually useless.
George Altermatt’s tone chamber patent described the ball-bearing design and tube-and-bracket concepts.
Then, thin filler strips would be glued into the cuts and then machined flush, resulting in a multiply appearance, while still basically a solid three-ply construction.
One-piece flange models required that the rim be machined down so that the flange could slip over the rim, and thus the rim had thin walls approx 1/2″ thick.
Certain models bring the highest prices from collectors around the world, and for some professional bluegrass banjoists, a Mastertone is the only instrument they will play.
The Gibson Mastertone has been copied by private luthiers and commercial manufacturers alike.The Gibson Mastertone banjo is one of those great success stories; and though it had its occasional failures, the “Mastertone” brand has made it through more than 75 years of hard times and rough service.Today, it is the only surviving representative — still in production — of the turn-of-the-century banjo era; and it is the instrument most highly acclaimed by both bluegrass and dixieland banjoists.It was a time of greater sensitivity that the company had known before: A time when the likes of such renowned luthierie figures as Lloyd A. These included the Master Model Mandolins (F-5’s), Master Model Mandolas (H-5’s), Master Model Guitars (L-5’s), and the Master Model tenor banjos (TB-5’s) (from which the “Mastertone” name was derived).Gibson banjos changed drastically during their early stages of development.
Variations which grew from this model were to become the standard of excellence for banjos around the world.