Style 11 was Gibson’s attempt to dress up a lower-priced banjo through the use of pearloid decorated with red and black silkscreened designs on the back of the resonator as well as the fingerboard and peghead, along with a colored finish on the rim, the sides of the resonator, and the back of the neck. Blue is the most commonly seen color for this finish, and style 11s are consequently sometimes referred to as “blue banjos”.
Gibson’s Catalog Y of 1937 mentioned style 11‘s “new type raised tone ring” which was purported to “improve tone and volume” and provide “more brilliancy”. The new design, seen on #DA-5066 (see Gibson banjo serial numbers vs. factory order numbers), was not a heavy cast archtop tone ring as found on the Mastertone models; instead, the archtop appearance was caused by the placement of the brass hoop on the inner edge of the rim rather than the outer edge.
#DA-5066 was shipped from the Gibson factory on December 2, 1938 to Ritter Music in Atlanta, Georgia; the truss-rod cover was personalized at the factory with the name of the original owner, Charles. The banjo remains in good original condition with the exception of an older replacement Kershner tailpiece and replaced tuners.
Photos courtesy of Mark Bramlett and John Drummond/Banjo.com.