Vega Regent 5 String Banjo (1927)

Vega  Regent 5 String Banjo  (1927)
$2,600.00 + shipping
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Item # 10331
Prices subject to change without notice.
Vega Regent Model 5 String Banjo (1927), made in Boston, Mass., serial # 72794, natural varnish finish, laminated maple rim and neck, ebony fingerboard, original black hard shell case.

This is a fairly late example of the Vega Regent, one of the simpler classic 5-strings of the 1900-1920s Fairbanks/Vega banjo line. While not a fancy model, the Regent is still built with Vega's typical exemplary craftsmanship to a simple and attractive design. The just-under 11" rim is similar to the Little Wonder, made of laminated maple with tortoise celluloid binding around the bottom edge. It is fitted with basic but solid hardware including open-end nuts, a notched hoop and simple sheathed tone ring. The neck is laminated maple with a bound ebony fingerboard featuring pearl dots with a single star inlay at the 5th fret. The headstock is the classic Vega shape with no adornment, just a plain dark wood cap.

This is a rare original later 1920s 5-string instrument with matching serial numbers on the neck and rim and all dowel stamps correct. In this period Vega was primarily building 4-string jazz banjos; the 5-string was in eclipse in roaring '20s America, outsold massively by tenor and plectrum models. The instrument has a mix of modern and original hardware so is not a completely original banjo but IS a very good player's example of one of America's great workingman's 5-string banjos; not flashy way, but a solid performer then and now.
Overall length is 37 1/4 in. (94.6 cm.), 10 15/16 in. (27.8 cm.) diameter head, and 2 9/16 in. (6.5 cm.) in depth, measured at side of rim. Scale length is 27 in. (686 mm.). Width of nut is 1 1/8 in. (29 mm.).

This is a good player's banjo showing a decent amount of age and playwear but set up in good gigging condition. There is general finish wear overall, most noticeable on the back of the neck where the original very thin vanish is mostly worn away. It looks like a thin overfinish was applied long ago, and now most of that is worn off as well. This has left the neck with a great smooth worn-in feel.

The tortoise celluloid rim capping has been replaced with the correct original style material; this is not a functional issue as this was simply a decorative addition. The bottom of the rim is fairly heavily worn and has had some black varnish added over the original; the rest of the rim and dowel finish remain original.

The hardware is a nixed bag; all of the hook/nut sets are original, with the "cut-off' nuts Vega was clearing out at the time. The nuts in particular show some corrosion and plating loss. The other rim hardware is original except the tailpiece is modern No-Knot repro. The geared tuners are modern Planet style, including the fifth string machine. Regents from this period were equipped with non-geared tuners, so these are a very useful upgrade for actual steel-string playing purposes.

The frets were replaced from the nut through the 5th; above that they appear original. The ebony fingerboard shows some scarring from this process, with some visible filled chips and spots in that first position area where obviously a lot of playing has been done. At the upper end there is a small chip off the treble side edge to the wood and binding. The 5th fret star pearl inlay appears to have been re done, with some smooth fill around it. The nut has a couple of extra string slots that are not easily explained, but do not cause any issues!

Fitted with a standard Remo head this Regent has a bright, full sound with plenty of punch but less of the overtones typically heard with a more elaborate tone ring like the Tu-Ba-Phone. As more affordable old-time banjos go this is an authentic original 1920s 5-string solo or string band instrument at a reasonable price not much above a quality modern copy. It including a fairly rare original "bump"-style HSC, worn but still fully functional and always cool! Very Good + Condition.