Here’s a nice example of a lower-end Gibson five-string banjo dating to circa 1927 (see Gibson banjo serial numbers vs. factory order numbers). The style 1 of this period featured a bracket shoe construction and a flange with diamond-shaped openings. Style 1 was a non-Mastertone model and therefore had no true tone ring–only a small-diameter brass hoop on top of the rim. Despite the lack of a heavy tone ring, the owner reports that this banjo is surprisingly loud. The hardware is nickel-plated and the wood is dark-stained maple. The inlay is a simple dot pattern and the only peghead ornamentation is a silkscreened “The Gibson” logo. This banjo retains its original friction fifth-string peg and was apparently made for export since it bears a “Made in U.S.A.” label inside the resonator.
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 Jack Dubow.