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. The fiddle-shaped peghead was retained on the style 1 even though the Mastertone models had by this time gone to the double-cut peghead shape. The rosewood fingerboard was normally inlaid with a fleur-de-lis inlay pattern which is also known by such varying names as “bats” and “flying birds”; however, other inlay patterns are sometimes seen on style 1 banjos and this example features the pattern that had been used on style 2 banjos of the 1920s and on the Nick Lucas artist model guitar. Style 1 banjos have an oval “The Gibson” label inside the rim which is similar to the Mastertone label found on the higher models.
I acquired this banjo in September 2006 from the grandson of the original owner in Southern California. It came to me in excellent condition except for non-original armrest, tailpiece, and case; I found correct prewar replacements to bring the banjo back to original condition. The holes in the rim were probably drilled for installation of a set of lights, commonly used in decades past to keep calfskin heads dry and tight. I was interested to see that the vintage Rogers Three Star skin head on this banjo is stamped with a guarantee and also numbered in pencil.