Vega Imperial Electric Guitar Banjo (1923)

Vega  Imperial Electric Guitar Banjo  (1923)
This item has been sold.
Item # 11310
Prices subject to change without notice.
Vega Imperial Electric Model Guitar Banjo (1923), made in Boston, Mass., serial # 65018, natural varnish finish, laminated maple rim and neck, ebony fingerboard, black hard shell case.

This is an interesting and fairly rare early 1920s example of a Vega "Imperial Electric" Banjo-Guitar, made just after the Fairbanks trade name was finally discontinued. It is stamped "made by The Vega Company" and "Imperial' on the dowel with several patent numbers. The older trade mark "Electric" is not present although that is how the model was usually cataloged. That name refers to the tone ring style, not actual electricity. This was the oldest high-grade model in the Vega line, patented in 1893 when electricity was a novelty!

This is a very robust, high-quality instrument, lacking only the bracket band of the White Lady and the Tu-Ba-Phone tone ring of the highest grade models. it features a heavy laminated maple rim topped by the older "Electric" elevated scalloped tone ring. The bracket shoes are mounted through the rim. The heavy maple neck has a thick ebony fingerboard and center laminate, heelcap, and headstock facing, as well as bone nut and pearl dot inlay. The rim edge is bound in tortoise celluloid with the bottom edge lacquered black, and the tailpiece is the original 6-string style.

These fairly rare Vegas are among the best open back guitar-banjos ever built, and 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 similar six-string Vega) to Old-Time Country. This is a nicely original and good-playing example, a cool find in a 6-string 'jo.
Overall length is 35 1/2 in. (90.2 cm.), 11 15/16 in. (30.3 cm.) diameter head, and 2 3/4 in. (7 cm.) in depth, measured at side of rim. Scale length is 25 in. (635 mm.). Width of nut is 1 13/16 in. (46 mm.).

This "Git-jo" shows some wear for its over 100 years on the planet but remains all original, including the period non-geared tuners and an older skin head. There is a decent amount of wear overall, most notably to the finish on the back of the neck especially in the lower positions with wear down to the maple. The plating is relatively well preserved with minor corrosion and clouding overall, with some shoes worn to the brass on the lower side. The tortoise celluloid rim capping has been neatly replaced, but all finish remains original.

The hardware also remains original including the special 6-string stud tailpiece, tuners and a full set of hooks and nuts. The fingerboard appears to have a very old and well-done refret and the instrument plays very well and sounds great. It is set up with a modern ebony-capped maple bridge, nice old unbranded calfskin head and includes a picturesque but functional handmade hard case, which for no good reason opens left handed! Overall Excellent - Condition.