Gibson’s 1927 banjo catalog described the PB-1 as “worthy of every confidence, priced for every purpose and guaranteed by Gibson.” The PB, or plectrum banjo, is a four-string banjo with the same scale length and tuning as a five-string; it allows for chord melody playing without a fifth string to get in the way. This example dates to 1928 (see Gibson banjo serial numbers vs. factory order numbers) and features typical style 1 appointments for the period including bracket-shoe rim construction, a flange plate with hexagonal holes, straight-grained maple with a uniform dark finish, dot inlays, and a silkscreened “The Gibson” peghead logo. A brass hoop sitting on top of the rim serves as a rudimentary tone ring. Many non-Mastertone banjos in this period were shipped without armrests, and the armrest on this example is an aftermarket part.
A previous owner added a medallion and and a bluebird decal to the otherwise austere peghead; the back of the peghead carries a decal identifying the banjo’s original retailer as the P.E. George Music Store in Victoria, British Columbia. The “Made in the U.S.A.” stamp on the back of the peghead and the “Made in U.S.A.” sticker inside the resonator were routinely applied by Gibson to banjos destined for export; the number 1887 stamped on the back of the peghead does not correspond to any numbering system used by Gibson and was likely a P.E. George inventory number.
Photos courtesy of Neil Bowman.