Vega Vegaphone Soloist Plectrum Banjo (1930)

Vega  Vegaphone Soloist Plectrum Banjo  (1930)
$2,250.00 + shipping
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Item # 7336
Prices subject to change without notice.
Vega Vegaphone Soloist Model Plectrum Banjo (1930), made in Boston, Mass., serial # 94949, shaded maple finish, laminated maple neck rim and resonator, ebony fingerboard, original black hard shell case.

This is a good player's example of one of the finest "Industry Standard" Orchestra banjos from the 1920s in fairly rare Plectrum configuration. Vega's "Vegaphone" line was essentially a long-scale Tubaphone with a flange and resonator, introduced in 1923-4. These were a response to William Lange's Paramount line, the first "Modern" resonator banjos that defined the new Orchestra player's market. The Soloist was the second model up the ladder in a 4-banjo line, above the "Professional" and under the "Artist" and "Deluxe." The Soloist was professionally priced at $200.00 when new with Vega's high-grade construction features and a medium-fancy level decoration.

The Soloist is unusual in featuring a mix of gold and nickel-plated hardware -- the hoop, hooks, tuners, tailpiece, and four-piece flange are gold; the tone ring, bracket band, and nuts are not. The pie-section resonator has beautifully shaded figured maple sections on the back and white celluloid outer edge binding. There is engraved varied pearl inlay in the bound ebony fingerboard, with a 3-piece shaded maple neck. The pearl headstock inlay is Vega's fanciest floral pattern with the logo on a banner in the center, and carries gold Grover tuners with celluloid buttons. The gold-plated clamshell tailpiece has the cover engraved "Vegaphone." These Vegaphone banjos were extremely popular with period jazz musicians and can be seen in many period photographs, and heard on literally thousands of early dance band and jazz recordings. The Plectrum version is far rarer than the Tenor, making this an excellent find for the long-neck player.
Overall length is 37 9/16 in. (95.4 cm.), 11 in. (27.9 cm.) diameter head, and 3 in. (7.6 cm.) in depth, measured at side of rim. Scale length is 27 in. (686 mm.). Width of nut is 1 3/16 in. (30 mm.).

This banjo is composed of all period components, but may be an old composite instrument, as the rim and neck serial numbers are close but not matching. All pieces are original Vega from the 1930 era; the dowel stick shows signs of having been slimmed at the back end for no reason we can posit. There is some playing wear overall, most notably to the back of the resonator, but the bulk of the instrument is relatively clean. Most of the plating is well-preserved, except for the hooks which have mostly worn through. The frets are in good shape, the neck is straighter than most, and this is an excellent playing and sounding banjo. Overall Excellent - Condition.