Vega Tu-Ba-Phone Style M Tenor Banjo (1926)

Vega  Tu-Ba-Phone Style M Tenor Banjo  (1926)
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Item # 8763
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Vega Tu-Ba-Phone Style M Model Tenor Banjo (1926), made in Boston, Mass., serial # 68666, shaded maple finish, laminated maple neck and rim, ebony fingerboard, original black hard shell case.

This is a fine-sounding early-pattern Vega Tu-Ba-Phone tenor banjo, the Style M. This model was the less ornamented of the top-grade instruments fitted with this fanciest of Vega tone rings. It is an non-resonator banjo with a short 21" scale fingerboard, the more archaic style of four-string developed in the 1910s. By the mid-'20s the long-scale resonator tenor had taken over the dance orchestra world and this instrument was a bit passe; this 1926 Style M is a relatively late example.

The rim has the standard Tu-Ba-Phone features with the bracket band around the outer edge and the elaborate tone ring built on a hollow brass tube. The bound ebony fingerboard has fairly simple pearl inlay, while the headstock bears a delicate nouveau-styled Vega logo inlay. This Style M has a smaller rim than earlier examples, giving it a slightly brighter sound. While now considered most suited to Irish-style playing, this banjo remains an excellent choice for any style in an open back, shorter scale tenor instrument with a big sound.
 
Overall length is 30 3/4 in. (78.1 cm.), 10 7/8 in. (27.6 cm.) diameter head, and 2 5/8 in. (6.7 cm.) in depth, measured at side of rim. Scale length is 21 in. (533 mm.). Width of nut is 1 1/8 in. (29 mm.).

This 90+ year old banjo shows some typical wear but remains in fine all-original condition. The plating has some light wear and tarnishing but overall maintains a good shine. The finish has only minimal surface play and handling wear. The headstock veneer shows several veneer cracks around the friction tuners, but remains fully intact. There is a small repaired split in the fingerboard binding on the bass side. The frets show some light wear but nothing that affects playability.

The head is rather dirty on the playing surface but is an original 1920s Vega-marked Rogers skin of the sort of quality that is long gone from the banjo world. This banjo is currently strung in Irish tuning (G-D-A-E) but is easily adaptable to standard tenor tuning and is a fine-playing and sounding instrument either way. The original hard case is included, fairly worn but still functional. Excellent - Condition.