Sunday, June 7, 2015

Stone Master-Model Dating Guide - Part I

Historical Overview | Dating Guide Part I | Dating Guide Part II

More than 800 George B. Stone & Son Master-Model Drums were produced from the early 1920s through the late 1930s. Many defining characteristics of the Master-Model Drums evolved over time allowing for one to date a particular instrument with some degree of accuracy. Several of these characteristics are detailed here with additional features to be discussed later in Part II of the Stone Master-Model Dating Guide.


When the first Master-Models were introduced in 1922, the drums were tensioned using cylindrical tension nuts. A second style of nut which was partially hexagonal and partly cylindrical appears on drums dating roughly from 1924 through 1926. The most commonly seen tension nuts were completely hexagonal and could easily be tuned with a typical wrench. Master-Models sometimes appear with a mix of second and third generation tension nuts, but the third style of nut was used exclusively from about 1926 onward.

ca. 1922 - 1924

ca. 1924 - 1926

ca. 1925 - 1930s


The Master-Model snare throw-off is basically an elongated, inverted version of the Stone Patent Snare Strainer and Muffler designed by William F. McIntosh. While there were several slight variations of this design used on the Master-Model drums, it is generally not a reliable distinguishing feature by which to date an instrument. To further complicate matters, Stone was willing to sell this part separately thus some instruments not produced by Stone may surface bearing a version of the McIntosh strainer.

The most noticeable adaptation to the Master-Model strainer over time is the crossover from a somewhat primitive thumb screw on earlier examples to a more finished looking knurled metal knob on later ones. Also, earlier strainers typically had straight lever arms while angled arms are more common on later examples. Later strainers commonly are installed with a thin metal tab which helps maintain snare tension.

1922 - ca. 1925 (pictured without snare wires)1922 - ca. 1925 (pictured with snare wires)

ca. 1925 - 1930s (pictured without snare wires) ca. 1925 - 1930s (pictured with snare wires)


Early Stone Master-Model drums, circa 1922 - 1924, used a butt plate designed and patented by Charles A. Stromberg. This piece strongly resembles a banjo tailpiece, something Stromberg would have been very familiar with as a string instrument maker. By late 1924, Stone began installing a more stable, two point butt plate which could accept wire, gut, or wire wound silk snares. This later style of butt plate also appears on some early Walberg & Auge drums.

1922 - ca. 1924 (pictured without snare wires)1922 - ca. 1924 (pictured with snare wires)

ca. 1925 - 1930s (pictured without snare wires) ca. 1925 - 1930s (pictured with snare wires)


The earliest generation of Master-Models featured highly polished rosewood grommets as did most other drums made by Stone & Son during that era. Around the end of 1924 the company began using threaded black synthetic grommets which screwed directly into a threaded vent hole in the shell.

1922 - late 1924

early 1925 - 1930s

In the next post we'll have Part II of the Stone Master-Model Dating Guide.

Do you have a Stone Master-Model? I would love to hear about it! Feel free to send Lee an email anytime at And for more on the other turn of the century Boston-based drum makers, please visit