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 1931 guitar-banjo is one of only 33 such instruments produced according to Gibson historian Joe Spann. The pot conforms to standard style 1 specifications for the period apart from its grooved stretcher band with flat hooks, presumably used because the neck notch in a notched stretcher band would not have been wide enough to accommodate six strings. The maple neck has no volute, or handstop, and the fingerboard has dot inlays rather than the fleur-de-lis pattern normally seen on the style 1 of this era. The guitar-shaped peghead has no inlay other than the old-style silkscreened “The Gibson” logo.
#9970-1 surfaced in Philadelphia, and the extensive wear to the back of the resonator makes one wonder if the instrument might have belonged to one of that city’s famous rhinestone- and sequin-bedecked Mummers.
Photos courtesy of Lou Bourbon.