Gibson’s first banjo model was known simply as the TB, for tenor banjo, and was introduced in 1919. The tenor banjo had been devised shortly after turn of the century; its CGDA tuning made it easier for mandolin players to make the transition to the increasingly popular banjo, and within a few years the tenor had largely eclipsed the original five-string version or, as Gibson called it, the “regular banjo”.
Gibson’s first banjo design was open-backed and featured a single wooden dowel for neck attachment. A small-diameter metal hoop atop the wooden rim served as a rudimentary tone ring. The very earliest examples included a silver plate engraved “Gibson / Mandolin-Guitar Co. / Kalamazoo, Mich.” attached to the dowel stick.
Photos courtesy of David Marks