Gibson TB-1 #9477-4

When style 1 made the transition from the earlier “bracket-shoe” design  to the one-piece flange circa 1929, some examples were made with the new rim construction while retaining most of the cosmetic appointments of the 1920s design.  #9477-4 (see Gibson banjo serial numbers vs. factory order numbers) is one of these transitional models.  Unlike most earlier TB-1s, this banjo’s original fingerboard has double position dots inlaid at the seventh fret as well as the twelfth; the old-style “The Gibson” peghead logo is silkscreened.  The dark-finished maple resonator is bound on the back edge only.  Like some other early one-piece-flange banjos, #9477-4 has a rim with a somewhat thicker dimension below the flange than later models; these thicker rims have been nicknamed “fat boy” rims by players and collectors.  These earlier rims measured up to .625″ thick below the flange, while later rims were reduced to anywhere from .600″ to .580″ after the one-piece-flange was beefed up slightly to counteract fatigue of the pot metal when under tension from the head brackets.  Like many such earlier banjos, #9477-4 shows considerable pulling up of the pot metal flange.

The original rim of #9477-4 remains uncut but owner Ken Spiers has made and installed a reproduction five-string neck with the fiddle-shaped peghead and fleur-de-lis inlays found on later style 1 banjos.  The banjo currently has a 1930s one-piece Gibson armrest installed; when found by its current owner the banjo had no armrest, which is most likely the way it left the factory.  Most style 1 banjos of the 1930s had only three resonator screws, but some were produced with four screws and on these the added screw is typically positioned symmetrically in relation to the other three, rather than being displaced one bracket to be out of the way of the armrest attachment hardware as was usually done on four-screw models.  This positioning of the fourth resonator screw apparently led Gibson to leave off the armrest on a number of these style 1 banjos.

Photos courtesy of Ken Spiers.