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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Help identifying inherited banjo?


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/383151

kmillay - Posted - 05/11/2022:  12:22:26


Hi, I hope this is the right place to ask for help. I inherited a banjo from my father, who as far as I know didn't play, so...
Anyway it doesn't appear to have any name or makers mark on it. I know nothing about banjos, but I do think it is beautiful and would like to know who made it and how old it is. Thank you so much for your time.


hbick2 - Posted - 05/11/2022:  12:40:30


We definitely will need more pictures. Take pictures of the inside and outside of the pot, from different angles. The same for the neck including a full shot of the front and back of the banjo.

The pot has definite earmarks of a Vega Tubaphone. The bracket band on the outside, the absence of lugs on the inside plus it looks like a Tubaphone tone ring. The marquetry inside of the pot is not something Vega would have done, unless possibly as a custom order.

The neck looks like it is custom or homemade. It has a truss rod cover which Vegas didn't have. The carving is very nice. It looks like you have a custom neck on a customized Vega Tubaphone pot.

Like I said, the more photos the better.

RioStat - Posted - 05/11/2022:  12:43:35


Step back a foot or two and take a picture of the entire banjo, one picture from the front, flip it over, one photo of the back.

kmillay - Posted - 05/11/2022:  12:58:13


Here are some more images, I thought you could only upload 3 total, oops. Thanks again for all the help, I really appreciate it. :-)


kmillay - Posted - 05/11/2022:  12:58:54


quote:

Originally posted by RioStat

Step back a foot or two and take a picture of the entire banjo, one picture from the front, flip it over, one photo of the back.






I just put up some more images, Thank you so much!!!

kmillay - Posted - 05/11/2022:  13:00:01


quote:

Originally posted by hbick2

We definitely will need more pictures. Take pictures of the inside and outside of the pot, from different angles. The same for the neck including a full shot of the front and back of the banjo.



The pot has definite earmarks of a Vega Tubaphone. The bracket band on the outside, the absence of lugs on the inside plus it looks like a Tubaphone tone ring. The marquetry inside of the pot is not something Vega would have done, unless possibly as a custom order.



The neck looks like it is custom or homemade. It has a truss rod cover which Vegas didn't have. The carving is very nice. It looks like you have a custom neck on a customized Vega Tubaphone pot.



Like I said, the more photos the better.






I just added more images.  Thank you so much for your help, very appreciated.  Fascinating to learn about this instrument.  Any idea on the age?

Alvin Conder - Posted - 05/11/2022:  13:10:45


It looks to me to be a modified vintage Vega Tubaphone pot from the late 1920’s matched to a later issue neck.

The work looks impeccable and top notch.

Beautiful instrument to say the least.

I may be wrong on my assessment, and I know others will chime in.

Strewthday47 - Posted - 05/11/2022:  13:14:18


Will add that the neck appears to be a "long neck". if you take a tape and measure from just behind the nut to the point on the bridge where the strings cross that will confirm.

kmillay - Posted - 05/11/2022:  13:16:15


quote:

Originally posted by Alvin Conder

It looks to me to be a modified vintage Vega Tubaphone pot from the late 1920’s matched to a later issue neck.



The work looks impeccable and top notch.



Beautiful instrument to say the least.



I may be wrong on my assessment, and I know others will chime in.






Thank you so much!!!

kmillay - Posted - 05/11/2022:  13:20:59


quote:

Originally posted by Strewthday47

Will add that the neck appears to be a "long neck". if you take a tape and measure from just behind the nut to the point on the bridge where the strings cross that will confirm.






I had to Google, "What is a banjo nut"? LOL.



It measures 32 1/4 inches from behine the "nut" to where the strings cross the bridge.



Thanks for your help!

banjopaolo - Posted - 05/11/2022:  13:30:51


Looks like a vega but maybe it is a tubaphone instrument crafted by someone? I’m surprised that the re is not the usual vega print in the dowel stick....

Anyway looks like a very well Made instrumet and tubaphone banjos are great sounding!

kmillay - Posted - 05/11/2022:  13:40:21


quote:

Originally posted by banjopaolo

Looks like a vega but maybe it is a tubaphone instrument crafted by someone? I’m surprised that the re is not the usual vega print in the dowel stick....



Anyway looks like a very well Made instrumet and tubaphone banjos are great sounding!






Thank you for your help!!!

hbick2 - Posted - 05/11/2022:  14:19:25


It is definitely an original Tubaphone pot with a thin veneer (with some really tasteful marquetry) on the inside. You can see the edge of the veneer on some of the pictures. That's why there are no serial numbers visible. It is really a super job. Whoever did it, really knew what they were doing.

The neck is very interesting. Nice carving, good heel, although it doesn't go all the way to the bottom of the pot like a Vega would have. Also it is a one piece neck, not three. Really interesting design and nice work.

You have a real treasure there. Now you need to learn to play it.

lazlototh - Posted - 05/11/2022:  14:37:13


A stunning banjo! I am going to guess whoever made the neck made it during the "folk music scare" of the 50's or 60's. The workmanship and carving is stunning. I am trying to process what is up with the peghead.

kmillay - Posted - 05/11/2022:  15:26:00


quote:

Originally posted by hbick2

It is definitely an original Tubaphone pot with a thin veneer (with some really tasteful marquetry) on the inside. You can see the edge of the veneer on some of the pictures. That's why there are no serial numbers visible. It is really a super job. Whoever did it, really knew what they were doing.



The neck is very interesting. Nice carving, good heel, although it doesn't go all the way to the bottom of the pot like a Vega would have. Also it is a one piece neck, not three. Really interesting design and nice work.



You have a real treasure there. Now you need to learn to play it.






Thank you for your help, it's so interesting to learn more about this beautiful instrument.  I'm not sure I'm coordinated enough to learn how to play it. ;-)

kmillay - Posted - 05/11/2022:  15:27:54


quote:

Originally posted by lazlototh

A stunning banjo! I am going to guess whoever made the neck made it during the "folk music scare" of the 50's or 60's. The workmanship and carving is stunning. I am trying to process what is up with the peghead.






Thank you.  I'm not sure what a peghead is, but it's been fascinating learning more about this banjo.

BeeEnvironment - Posted - 05/11/2022:  15:32:32


THAT IS BEAUTIFUL! Yes, it is a longneck, which was the idea invented by Peter Seeger in the 1940s for singers to suite their singing voices (key changes).

Try to learn it, please!
Russ A.

jun3machina - Posted - 05/11/2022:  15:42:33


This is a beaut!

hbick2 - Posted - 05/11/2022:  15:43:54


Here is a previous thread that has a nice diagram showing the parts of an open-back banjo, which is what you have.

banjohangout.org/archive/354619

kmillay - Posted - 05/11/2022:  15:45:27


quote:

Originally posted by BeeEnvironment

THAT IS BEAUTIFUL! Yes, it is a longneck, which was the idea invented by Peter Seeger in the 1940s for singers to suite their singing voices (key changes).



Try to learn it, please!

Russ A.






Thank you! I'm not sure i can learn to play this, i can barely play a kazoo, Lol.

mike gregory - Posted - 05/11/2022:  15:50:02


Welcome to the HangOut, and "corn granulations" on owning such a fine and high-quality instrument.







That banjo was born to RING!

If you think you're not co-ordinated enough to play like Bela Fleck, Earl Scruggs, or Steve Martin without years of practice, you're RIGHT!

But if you can lay ONE FINGER flat across at the 5th fret, and then at the 7th fret, while hitting down on most or ALL of the strings with your thumb, then picking UP the skinniest LONG string with a fingertip, and then hitting the SHORT string with your thumb, you can play a couple thousand songs.



This guy and/or his cat, will get you started.




Bob in CT - Posted - 05/11/2022:  17:37:25


quote:

Originally posted by kmillay

quote:

Originally posted by Strewthday47

Will add that the neck appears to be a "long neck". if you take a tape and measure from just behind the nut to the point on the bridge where the strings cross that will confirm.






I had to Google, "What is a banjo nut"? LOL.



It measures 32 1/4 inches from behine the "nut" to where the strings cross the bridge.



Thanks for your help!






Actually, a banjo has two nuts - one on the neck and the one that plays it...

rmcdow - Posted - 05/11/2022:  17:41:08


What is the metal strip running offset on the left side from the 9th fret to the 17th fret?

hbick2 - Posted - 05/11/2022:  18:16:22


That is a 5th string capo. It allows you to raise the pitch of the 5th string without tightening the tuner to raise it.

A regular capo is a clamp that you use on the neck to raise the pitch of the rest of the banjo.

As an example, if you were tuned in the key of G and you put the capo at the 2nd fret, you would be in the key of A. You would then need to raise the the pitch of the 5th string two frets so it would be in tune with the rest of the banjo. I hope this makes sense.

beezaboy - Posted - 05/11/2022:  18:16:51


A 5th (thumb) string capo.



Edit: Oops, redundant.  Simultaneous posts.


Edited by - beezaboy on 05/11/2022 18:19:11

kmillay - Posted - 05/12/2022:  04:01:02


quote:

Originally posted by mike gregory

Welcome to the HangOut, and "corn granulations" on owning such a fine and high-quality instrument.







That banjo was born to RING!

If you think you're not co-ordinated enough to play like Bela Fleck, Earl Scruggs, or Steve Martin without years of practice, you're RIGHT!

But if you can lay ONE FINGER flat across at the 5th fret, and then at the 7th fret, while hitting down on most or ALL of the strings with your thumb, then picking UP the skinniest LONG string with a fingertip, and then hitting the SHORT string with your thumb, you can play a couple thousand songs.



This guy and/or his cat, will get you started.








Wow, what a cool video.  Thanks.

lanemb - Posted - 05/12/2022:  06:43:13


Most long neck banjos have 8 frets before the 5th string. This one has 9. Are there any production banjos with 9 frets before the 5th string?

rmcdow - Posted - 05/13/2022:  06:29:46


quote:

Originally posted by lanemb

Most long neck banjos have 8 frets before the 5th string. This one has 9. Are there any production banjos with 9 frets before the 5th string?






How would that be tuned? 

Tom Meisenheimer - Posted - 05/19/2022:  07:21:06


I doubt this long neck Vega was influenced by Mr. Seeger.

The neck is older than the era of the banjo scare. So it is probably a custom set-up.
Since it has the appearance of a 1920's Vega and the neck seems as old. It may have customized for a professional musician (as opposed to a part-time entertainer).

You inherited it, do you mind telling us from whom?

Is there a serial number anywhere on the banjo?

Tom

Tom Meisenheimer - Posted - 05/19/2022:  07:28:21


I returned to your first post. You inherited it from your father who didn't play? I wonder how he came to have it.
when was your father born?

The addition of the fifth string capo makes me think that it was played in the 1950s and 60s since that was a popular addition back then.
Two of my banjos have that addition, allowing me to play in numerous keys at sessions.

Tom

Oldtwanger - Posted - 05/19/2022:  08:03:14


I find the tailpiece most interesting - not a standard "Presto" but similar style.
I would like to see some close-up photos of the tailpiece.
Beautiful instrument!

Joel Hooks - Posted - 05/19/2022:  08:31:26


quote:

Originally posted by Tom Meisenheimer

I doubt this long neck Vega was influenced by Mr. Seeger.



The neck is older than the era of the banjo scare. So it is probably a custom set-up.

Since it has the appearance of a 1920's Vega and the neck seems as old. It may have customized for a professional musician (as opposed to a part-time entertainer).



You inherited it, do you mind telling us from whom?



Is there a serial number anywhere on the banjo?



Tom






I'd be willing to bet that if the neck is not a total folk era fabrication, then a nice, well lit, and in focus photo of the side and back of the neck would show an extension graft as taught in the Seeger book.

Gordy Ohliger - Posted - 05/19/2022:  17:53:11


Oh goodness...this is very fine.



Please respect...you have a winner here.

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