Vega Style N Special Plectrum Banjo (1932)

Vega  Style N Special Plectrum Banjo  (1932)
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Item # 9920
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Vega Style N Special Model Plectrum Banjo (1932), made in Boston, Mass., serial # 97958, shaded maple finish, laminated maple rim; laminated maple neck with ebony fingerboard, original black hard shell case.

This is a very nice if fairly plain Vega Plectrum 4-string, long neck banjo, an instrument we too rarely see these days. This Style N dates to the early depression era when banjo sales were unfortunately collapsing. In the 1920's the plain Style N was an openback instrument, but by the early '30s was offered as the "Special" fitted with the full Vega individual flanges and resonator system previously reserved for the Vegaphone models. These had now been superseded on that line and thus likely the surplus hardware was getting used up any way the company could! At a list price of $50 including a hard case this model was quite a bargain, but unfortunately still more than most Americans could afford to spend on a banjo in the worst years of the Depression.

The neck and rim are laminated maple, with a bound dyed maple fingerboard with dot inlay. The headstock has only the small 1930's metal star Vega logo applique for decoration. The rim is the same as the higher grades but has only a simple tone ring and rim-mounted shoes instead of the elaborate Tu-Ba-Phone fittings. The tuners are the "two-tab" Grovers fitted to many midline instruments in this period, and the tailpiece is a standard Grover Presto style. This banjo is lighter than the higher-end Vegaphones but has a similar feel; the sound is mellower and more "old timey" without the heavy tone ring. This is a very nice playing banjo, and excellent learner or "knock-around' plectrum with a sweet sound.
 
Overall length is 37 3/4 in. (95.9 cm.), 10 7/8 in. (27.6 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 1/4 in. (32 mm.).

This banjo shows some light wear and tear overall, but really has survived nearly 90 years very well. The plating shows very little tarnishing and the original finish has fairly minor dings, dents and scrapes, the most notable on the treble side edge of the resonator and the headstock face. The neck shows only very light finish and fret wear and the banjo does not appear to have been played a lot since FDR took office.

The calf skin head is an original Vega-branded piece, with some dirt on the face but still holding up sounding great. All hardware is original, the neck is quite straight and this is a very nice playing and sounding plectrum with a less strident sound than many higher end models. It is complete in the original hardshell case, which has some wear but is still solid. Overall Excellent Condition.