Style 1 was a mainstay of Gibson’s lower-end, non-Mastertone banjo line from the 1920s through World War II. By the 1930, the year of this example (see Gibson banjo serial numbers vs. factory order numbers), the specifications for style 1 included a pot metal one-piece flange and three-ply maple rim with nickel-plated hardware and a dark-finished maple neck and resonator; there was 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.
#9775-1 is a rare five-string example and remains in excellent original condition including its friction fifth-string peg and #521 case by Geib and Schaefer.
Photos courtesy of an anonymous collector.