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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: fairbanks/vega style k

Please note this is an archived topic, so it is locked and unable to be replied to. You may, however, start a new topic and refer to this topic with a link: http://www.banjohangout.org/archive/291421

rot-n-dobe - Posted - 09/16/2014:  17:35:52

just looking for any info on this banjolele. cant seem to find anything on the net. it needs a new head and is missing two hooks but otherwise excellent shape. serial 34361.  thanks in advance.

Edited by - rot-n-dobe on 09/16/2014 17:37:19

vega front

vega back

vega inside pot

thefolkshop - Posted - 09/16/2014:  19:51:38

Beautiful!!!  I have one but the pot is bigger.  Luv yours.

Crusty - Posted - 09/16/2014:  20:01:33

That serial number might make that one a 1918-1919 vintage.  A couple of days time and you could install a new goatskin head on it.  It's nice!

G Edward Porgie - Posted - 09/16/2014:  20:04:20

From the model designation, which Vega usually used on their banjo-mandolins, I suspect this may not be a banjo uke, but a "melody banjo," also sometimes called a "tango banjo." It's like a banjo-mandolin, but with single strings instead of pairs.

Perhaps someone who knows more about the designations on Vega banjo ukes can shed more light.

Serial number indicates the 19 teens, which would be consistent with time period for most melody banjos. I'm too tired right now to look the number up and give you a more exact date, but there are websites you can check yourself for that information. Just google "Vega banjo serial numbers." They went in numerical sequence no matter which type banjo or which model was being produced.

G Edward Porgie - Posted - 09/16/2014:  20:41:16

Made in 1918.

rot-n-dobe - Posted - 09/17/2014:  00:55:51

thank you all, i will check into "melody banjo". as far as date, i came up with 1918 from mandolin cafe but from mugwumps, 1920. i think this is cool as can be!

rot-n-dobe - Posted - 09/17/2014:  01:23:24

p.s. this little jo is about 19" long and has a 7.5" pot.

beezaboy - Posted - 09/17/2014:  07:34:05

Just some speculation.

I think your instrument is a ukulele banjo due to overall length and rim size.

Would be nice to know the scale (nut to fret 12 X 2 =scale).

Correct me if I'm wrong but,I believe Vega designated its simple ring mandolin banjos and ukulele banjos as style K.  Vega also offered its mandolin banjos with just 4 strings instead of 8 but your rim size seems to be too small to be a 4-string mandolin banjo (aka Melody Banjo).

The uke banjo, I believe, was not "invented" until late 1916 so your ukulele banjo would seem to be an early one from Vega.

G Edward Porgie - Posted - 09/17/2014:  12:48:15

I have to agree with John here. Now that you've supplied those dimensions, I feel it almost has to be a banjo uke. I had a Style K banjo-mandolin for a short time, and it was much larger; I seem to recall head size of 10" or so and a length of about 24".

Andy FitzGibbon - Posted - 09/17/2014:  12:59:17

This is a uke.  Melody banjos had a 10 1/8" rim.



rot-n-dobe - Posted - 09/17/2014:  14:31:33

6.5" to the 12th fret making it a 13" scale. I have done a lot of searching on the net and can't seem to find one like it.

beezaboy - Posted - 09/17/2014:  16:01:05

I measured a couple of mandolin banjos that were handy.  A real old one was 14" scale.  A "newer" one was 14 3/4".

tdennis - Posted - 09/17/2014:  16:27:50

I play banjo ukulele, refurbish them, & have tracked them for a long time.   I can tell you that your instrument is rarely seen.   (By a strange coincidence another rare bird showed up 2 weeks ago , a  Vega banjo ukulele with a Little Wonder tone ring).      I consider you very lucky.    

Cottonmouth - Posted - 09/18/2014:  09:05:08

beezaboy, The 1927 Fairbanks-Vega melody banjo you located for me a few years back, has a 13" scale and a 10-1/8" rim. I'm assuming that this banjo uke probably is equipped with the same neck as the melody banjo.


G Edward Porgie - Posted - 09/18/2014:  09:19:58

Ken, your melody banjo has a fretboard extension and Mr. Benson's banjo uke doesn't, so the two necks are not the same, even if the scale is.

mikehalloran - Posted - 09/19/2014:  07:11:45

13" is pretty standard for Concert and banjo ukuleles, which this is.

"Tango" was an early name for tenor banjos, not melody banjo.

A Style K can be either a mandolin, melody, piccolo or ukulele banjo.

G Edward Porgie - Posted - 09/19/2014:  08:49:34

Tango banjo might be an earlier name, but melody banjo has usually been an accepted term, too.

I also don't know if a 13" scale like Mr. Berner's little banjo should be called a tenor, because it's tuned higher.

Terminology can be confusing at times, possibly because even the original manufacturers haven't always agreed on what to call certain things.

rot-n-dobe - Posted - 09/19/2014:  15:39:12

I have ordered a new hide head for this and would like to find 2 matching hook sets. the hooks are round and the ball end nuts have slight flats on the ball. any one have a couple of these, please let me know. thanks

G Edward Porgie - Posted - 09/19/2014:  15:49:25

A closeup photo of the hooks and nuts would help. I can think of a more than one kind of nut that loosly fits your description. Most of the Style Ks I've seen have the typical Vega "little wonder" kind of nuts, (no ball end, rather plain, short, and open on the bottom) although I've seen one with nuts that I recall as being similar to those used by S.S.Stewart.

Also, what is the length of the hook?

Edited by - G Edward Porgie on 09/19/2014 15:51:11

Cottonmouth - Posted - 09/19/2014:  15:58:39

My 4-string banjo is definitely not a tenor. Attached is a photo of Mr. Bob Tedrow with a pristine 1914 Fairbanks-Vega Little Wonder melody banjo. This is the earliest of that make that I am aware of. Mr. Mike Holmes of Mugwumps has a 1915, I believe.

Edited by - Cottonmouth on 09/19/2014 16:01:35

rot-n-dobe - Posted - 09/19/2014:  16:18:22

hooks are 2.25" long see attached pic. they are open ball.  thanks

Edited by - rot-n-dobe on 09/19/2014 16:19:28

banjolele hooks


G Edward Porgie - Posted - 09/19/2014:  16:22:59

These nuts do, indeed, look like the Stewart nuts. Duplicates of those are available from Rickard's in Canada. I don't know if the threading is the same, however, or if they'd be an exact match.

Edited by - G Edward Porgie on 09/19/2014 16:33:26

rot-n-dobe - Posted - 09/20/2014:  09:09:04

checked rickards and didn't see anything like this. still looking.

G Edward Porgie - Posted - 09/20/2014:  10:59:51

They are a little difficult to find. I think I located them under "special items' or something like that. Remember, they are labeled as Stewart nuts, so you won't find them listed as Vega parts.

Once again, I don't guarantee they are an exact match.

Rick Turner - Posted - 09/20/2014:  11:14:50

Check also with Bob Smakula for parts.

rot-n-dobe - Posted - 09/20/2014:  15:52:07

sent him a pm, haven't heard back yet. thanks

rot-n-dobe - Posted - 09/22/2014:  14:48:49

bob smakula did find a couple of matching hook/nut sets and was gratious enough to sell them to me. thanks Bob. I got a new head today and am in the process of mounting it. this banjolele does in fact have a tone ring that looks very much like a short skirt little wonder ring in raw brass. pics attached. just need to let it dry and then trim. btw, due to the extremely close fit between the end of the fret board and the tension hoop, I decided to remove the neck for this operation. all needed a good cleaning anyway.

banjolele pot

banjolele tone ring

banjolele new head

G Edward Porgie - Posted - 09/22/2014:  17:44:49

This is the first Style K I've ever seen with that "tone ring" setup. All of the ones I've encountered had a simple rod resting on top of the rim.

Your work is looking good. It's always best, in my opinion, to get the neck off when installing a new head. I don't know how many banjo fingerboards have end chips from those who left the neck tight against the rim when replacing a head.

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