Vega Little Wonder Guitar Banjo (1924)

Vega  Little Wonder Guitar Banjo  (1924)
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Item # 11069
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Vega Little Wonder Model Guitar Banjo (1924), made in Boston, Mass., serial # 76821, natural varnish finish, laminated maple rim and neck, ebony fingerboard, black tolex hard shell case.

This is a fine gigging example of a fairly rare Vega Little Wonder Banjo-Guitar, largely original with some recent restoration/upgrading to make it a superbly playable piece. Although the least fancy of Vega 1920's banjo line the Little Wonder is still a robust high-quality instrument, lacking only the fancier tone rings and bracket band of the more expensive White Lady and Tubaphone.

This banjo features a heavy laminated 12" maple rim topped by a simple sheathed brass wire tone ring and standard brackets mounted thru the rim. The laminated maple neck has a comfortable round profile with a very thick ebony fingerboard, ebony heelcap and headstock facing, bone nut and pearl dot inlay. The rim's bottom edge is bound in tortoise celluloid and ebonized; the rest of the very thin finish is a clear natural overall.

These beautifully made Vegas are by most reckoning the best open back guitar-banjos ever built, even this simplest of models. They sound great for everything from New Orleans Jazz ("Play that thing, Mr. St Cyr!" - with Louis Armstrong's Hot Five Johnny St Cyr used a six-string Vega) to ragtime, Old-Time Country and beyond into modern sounds. This model with a large 12" rim offers a deeper tone than many "Git-Jo's" but still has plenty of punch when played hard.
 
Overall length is 37 1/2 in. (95.2 cm.), 12 in. (30.5 cm.) diameter head, and 2 3/4 in. (7 cm.) in depth, measured at side of rim. Scale length is 25 1/2 in. (648 mm.). Width of nut is 1 11/16 in. (43 mm.).

This Vega is very nice overall with some mostly just some light finish and plating wear. The very thin rim and dowel stick finish shows some dirt and discoloration with minor wear. The back of the neck has some dings and dents mostly on the treble side; some feelable but none that deep. The neck looks to have been oiled at some point; the finish has darkened somewhat compared to the rim and these finish loss spots are more visible than they would usually be.

This banjo retains mostly original fittings with some hardware upgrades; the rim hardware is stock including the oft-missing proprietary tailpiece, and even the original maple bridge and a well-fitted skin head. There is a later armrest added and the cool vintage Grover pick-holder mounted; both are easily removable if desired. The neck has been neatly refretted by banjo expert Bob Smakula, who also fitted the excellent new Rickard geared tuners and re-capped the original bridge. This all makes for an excellent player and like all these Vegas a truly excellent sounding and extremely solid banjo guitar. It includes a nice more recent OHSC. Excellent - Condition.