Gibson RB-1 #9563-14, the “Maury C. Perdue”

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.  Even though the Mastertone models had by this time gone to the double-cut peghead shape, the fiddle-shaped peghead was retained on style 1, with a minor modification–the two small indentations normally found under the fourth- and first-string tuners were absent.  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. 

Banjos from lot #9563 (see Gibson banjo serial numbers vs. factory order numbers) were produced in the first months of 1930.  The first known owner of this banjo was Maury C. Perdue of  Ironto, Virginia in September of 1935. It was found in Marion (Smyth County), Virginia in 1965 in fully original condition and is reported to have been owned at one time by Jack Reedy who lived in Marion. Reedy was a professional musician who recorded with the original Hill Billies in 1927 and then with his own band, the Walker Mountain String Band, from 1928 into the 1940s.  The banjo conforms to catalog specifications except that the tension hoop appears to have been made for a guitar-banjo.  The pickguard and hardshell case are original to the banjo. The case has a green flannel interior but lacks a red line around the lid.

Photos courtesy of Ken Landreth.