Here is a beautiful example of a TB1,
circa 1935.  It is in a virtually un-played
condition.  It also came to me with an
engraved brass hoop, normally found
only on fancy models such as the
Granada.  All indications are that it is
100% original.  The calfskin head
looks almost new, and even the lid to
the case stays open by itself (the little
connector straps are still intact!).
As you can see in the above picture, this banjo has no tone ring other than a
simple brass hoop that sits on top of the rim, under the head, just inside the
tension hoop.  This gives it the look of a flat head banjo, but the lack of a heavy
bronze ring cuts way back on the volume and sustain of the tone.  Interestingly, it
was a similar hoop-based Gibson that Earl played in many of the early
recordings with Bill Monroe - a 1930's RB-11.  It seemed to do the job for Earl!  
Beautiful Brazilian Rosewood
fingerboard.  Notice that the inlays are
not done with the precision that we are
accustomed to in the current days of
CNC machines and laser-cutting tools.  
Some people like that "feature",
believing that it give
s some personality
to the instrument and a hand-made