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. The vast majority of Gibson’s prewar banjo production consisted of tenors; plectrums, such as this one, were rarer and are more commonly seen in lower-priced styles such as 1. The style 1 of the 1930s was a non-Mastertone model and therefore had no true tone ring–only a small-diameter brass hoop on top of the rim. It did, however, feature the same pot metal one-piece flange and three-ply maple rim as the Mastertones of the same period. Style 1 had nickel-plated hardware and a dark-finished maple neck and resonator, with white binding on the neck and both edges of the resonator. The fiddle-shaped peghead was retained on the style 1 even though the Mastertone models had by this time gone to the double-cut peghead shape. The rosewood fingerboard was inlaid with a fleur-de-lis inlay pattern which is also known by such varying names as “bats” and “flying birds”; in the late 1930s, this inlay pattern was replaced on style 1 by a simple dot pattern, although the “inverted bud” peghead inlay remained.
Style 1 banjos have an oval “The Gibson” label inside the rim which is similar to the Mastertone label found on the higher models.
Photos courtesy of Annette Franklin.