Style 1 was one of Gibson’s lower-end banjo models, lacking the heavy brass tone ring found in the Mastertone models. This example, dating to 1928 (see Gibson banjo serial numbers vs. factory order numbers), is a rare original five-string of the type played by Grand Ole Opry star Uncle Dave Macon; Gibson historian Joe Spann estimates that only 60 original five-string RB-1s of this type were produced. The holes in the flange appear at first glance to be the typical Gibson shape but on closer inspection are seen to be hexagonal, giving rise to the term “hex flange”. The pot assembly hardware also features the “shoes” used on many earlier Gibson banjos and evidenced by the screws visible inside the wooden rim. The appointments are very simple, with dark-stained maple neck and resonator, dot inlays, and silkscreened “The Gibson” logo in the simply-shaped peghead. Soon, style 1 would undergo a number of changes; the shoes would disappear, the peghead would become fiddle-shaped with a mother-of-pearl “Gibson” logo, and the inlays would be in the fleur-de-lis pattern.
#9359-7 remains in original condition including its #521 flannel-lined case by Geib and Schaefer.
Photos courtesy of an anonymous collector.