An early 1930s Gibson catalog informed players that the guitar-banjo was “used most effectively in small dance combinations and of especial value where a piano is not available.” This 1937 guitar-banjo is one of only 33 such instruments produced according to Gibson historian Joe Spann. While some style 1 guitar-banjos departed from the standard specifications for their tenor, plectrum, and five-string counterparts, #253-3 (see Gibson banjo serial numbers vs. factory order numbers) has the same features as these more common versions of the style 1 including a notched tension hoop with round hooks and fleur-de-lis inlays. The tuners on this example are Grover “pancakes” rather than the less-expensive two-tab Grovers typically used on style 1 banjos of the period. The factory order number is stamped inside the rim using the unusual larger sans-serif font seen sporadically on a small number of banjos in the mid-1930s, including TB-2 #824-10, TB-7 Mastertone #390-1, TB-7 Mastertone #390-13, RB-2 #1112-1, RB-12 Mastertone #411-1, and RB-12 Mastertone #411-2.
#253-3, along with its #521 case by Geib and Schaefer, was shipped on October 21, 1937 to the Grossman Music Company of Cleveland, Ohio.
Photos courtesy of an anonymous collector.