Pre-War Gibson Banjo Catalogue Descriptions
Style 1- Introduced in 1922. In 1925, the style 1 had a rosewood fretboard w/fancy inlay shapes, no resonator and a 10 1/2" head was featured. In 1926, the style 1 changed to a resonator model w/ shoes-and-plate flange and an 11" head. In 1930, it further changed to a dark mahogany finished maple and "bat" inlays and featured a 1-piece flange. In 1936, the inlay pattern changed again, to simple dots.
Style 5- Introduced in 1923. The style 5 was available in two distinct models. First as one of the early "trap door" and Pyralin reso banjos. The tone chamber at that time was the springless BB type. Fretboard inlay pattern was a fancy floral pattern and the hardware was gold-plated. In 1925, with the introduction of the spring-loaded BB tone chamber, this style was introduced with a full resonator, "Wreath" inlay design, gold-plated and engraved hardware, figured walnut neck and reso wood, fancy binding, wood-inlaid marquetry on the back of the peghead and fancy purfling.
Style 4- Introduced in 1923. This style was the top of the standard (not engraved, carved or gold-plated) line. The first version featured silver plating, ebony fretboard with pearl dots, curly maple neck wood and Pyralin reso. In 1925, it featured a
Style 3- Introduced in 1923. The first style 3 boasted nickel-plating, an ebony fretboard w/dot inlays, and plain maple neck wood. In 1925, the style 3 featured "snowflake" inlays, nickel plating, plain maple neck and resonator wood, and was finished in a dark-red mahogany color. In 1929, the inlay was changed to large, fancy designs. In 1932, the neck and reso wood was changed to
Style 2- Introduced in 1925. This model featured a full maple resonator, shoe brackets w/wavy flange, simple inlay designs, rosewood fretboard and an amber-brown finish. In 1926, the flange was changed to diamond-hole. In 1930, the style 2 was changed to a 1-piece flange, silk-screened decor, walnut reso and pearloid fretboard.
Style 0- Introduced in 1925. The style 0 had a "ebonized-maple" fretboard, dot inlays, no resonator and a 10 1/2" head. In 1926, it was changed to an 11" head. The finish during both years of production was a antique mahogany color.
Florentine- Introduced in 1927. An elaborate instrument boasting Italian Renaissance motifs. The pearloid fretboard was hand painted with multi-colored scenes and the resonator back was carved and colored with a fancy crown-and-crest design. The peghead was veneered in pearloid, inlaid and bordered in colorful rhinestones. The hardware was gold plated and richly engraved. Available with burl walnut, curly maple, Brazilian rosewood or white holly woods (Some had white-painted maple).
Bella Voce- Introduced in 1927. Similar to the Florentine model, except the Bella Voce featured a rosewood fretboard with MOP inlays, and a lyre design carved and painted on the resonator back. The first models had an ebony-veneered peghead with two variations of elaborate MOP inlays, later changed to the same peghead as the Florentine model.
Style 6- Introduced in 1928. This banjo was a handsome combination of curly maple woods and flashy binding. The first models boasted b/w checkerboard-like binding. A variation of this style was introduced as the PT, an instrument with gold-speckled binding and a string scale length halfway between tenor and plectrum. After the PT's short tenure (two years of production), several style 6 banjos were made with the same gold-speckled binding. The style 6 had H&F's inlays, rosewood (later ebony) fretboards, gold-plated and engraved hardware, and a finish called "Argentine Grey". Discontinued circa 1931.
Style 11- Introduced in 1930. A lower-priced standard model with pearloid fingerboard, peghead and reso back, all of which were silk-screened in a multi-colored floral motif. Hardware was nickel. This model had a 1/4" brass rod (tone chamber). Some versions had blue-painted necks.
Introduced in 1930. A richly decorated model with a carved and colored eagle on
the reso back and a three-dimensional eagle carved on the peghead. The fretboard
was painted with scenes depicting the development of American history.
Gold-plated, engraved hardware, pearloid fingerboard, burl walnut or white holly
Style 00- Introduced in 1935. This was the bottom of the line model. It was made with a rosewood fretboard, dot inlays, nickel-plated hardware, plain maple wood, and a light walnut color.
This model was the top-of-the-line of the standard models during the latter part
of the Golden Years (other than the higher numbered top-tension models). It was
Style 18- Introduced in 1937. The best of the top-tension models. This instrument featured an arched rosewood fretboard, large art-deco inlays, a new art-deco peghead design bound in WBW, and a carved (rather than laminated) heavy reso, whose back surface was turtle-shell shaped. The top-tension model was the first official announcement of the flat-top tone chamber design (although it was previously available on special order). Hardware was gold-plated and engraved, and the neck and reso wood was curly maple. The resonator on TT models was machined on a lathe from a solid piece of wood., instead of being laminated as on other models. Tuning pegs had a large square housing which reflected the designs of the art-deco period.
Style 12- Introduced in 1937. The middle of the TT models. Virtually the same as the style 18 except this style was chrome plated, not engraved and featured black walnut as a neck and resonator wood. The instrument was finished in a dark sunburst with dark regions around the outside back of the reso, at the neck heel and at the back of the peghead. Most of the TT models had three-digit serial #'s.
Style 7- Introduced in 1937. The bottom of the TT line. This style was made of plain maple and finished in a dark brown. The hardware was nickel-plated and the inlay design was similar to the "bowtie" pattern used in the style 250 banjos of the late '50's, but had several slots cut into the side of each inlay piece.
As originally transcribed by