Vega Little Wonder Special Tenor Banjo (1931)

Vega  Little Wonder Special Tenor Banjo  (1931)
$1,100.00 + shipping
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Item # 10518
Prices subject to change without notice.
Vega Little Wonder Special Model Tenor Banjo (1931), made in Boston, Mass., serial # 96029, shaded maple finish, laminated maple neck, rim and resonator; ebonized fingerboard, original black hard shell case.

The Little Wonder Special was Vega's highest grade budget tenor of the late 1920s, or lowest grade pro model depending on how you look at it! The model boasts a combination of the pro-grade Vegaphone style resonator and flange with the simple rim and tone ring construction of the basic Little Wonder. Although priced in 1930 at $75 as a good student's value, this model feels and plays like the higher grade Vegas, if with a bit less volume and "ring" due to the plain capped tone ring. The materials are top grade; the neck is maple with an ebonized fingerboard, the rim and resonator laminated maple.

This example is fitted with the multiple flange pieces originally produced for the upscale Vegaphones, but here being used up as that line had by this point been altered to a solid flange design. That gives this banjo a fancier look than many. It has simple geared Grover tuners with the only ornament of note being the engraved pearl Vega star in the headstock. "A beauty in appearance, a wonder for tone and the highest quality for the price" read Vega's catalog description, and in this case they are not really gilding the lily. This one shows a decent amount of surface wear and tear but still plays and sounds very well.
Overall length is 33 1/4 in. (84.5 cm.), 11 in. (27.9 cm.) diameter head, and 3 in. (7.6 cm.) in depth, measured at side of rim. Scale length is 23 in. (584 mm.). Width of nut is 1 3/16 in. (30 mm.).

This banjo shows a decent amount of wear overall but remains an excellent value in a quality period tenor banjo. The original finish on the neck has quite a bit of flaking, likely more from exposure to moisture long ago than actual play wear. The rim and resonator are less affected but do have some checking, dings, dents and scratches visible. For the most part except for the flaking on the neck and headstock the banjo remains quite attractive.

The original hardware and plating show some average wear; the tailpiece is a later replacement but the rest remains original. The original frets have some wear in the lower positions but not enough to affect playability. The banjo is set up with an old, period (possibly original) skin head; it is a bit dirty but sounds great; you can't get skins of this quality anymore. This is a very good learner's or just general knock-around tenor banjo with a real professional feel. Very Good + Condition.