Banjo Hangout Logo
Banjo Hangout Logo

Premier Sponsors

Banjo Lovers Online

The first long neck banjo - 1944-1949

Posted by phdm on Sunday, January 22, 2012

As many long neck enthusiasts know, Pete Seeger created the first long neck banjo from his Vega Whyte Ladie in about 1944, just before he shipped out to the South Pacific during WWII.  He took his instrument down to famed guitar maker John D'Angelico in New York City's Lower Eastside and asked him to saw off the top of the neck and insert 2 extra frets, thus allowing Seeger to play the instrument in a wider range of keys more easily and in keys he could better sing.  Some photos of Seeger with The Almanac Singers before the war show him playing his Vega before it was extended.  One fairly grainy photo I have discovered of Seeger playing in Saipan during the war show him with his extended Vega.  The clearer photo (which I now hope to figure out how to attach to this, my first ever blog post.  The best I can figure out now it to add them to the photos section of this site, I guess)  was taken circa 1947, after his return from the war, and shows the banjo clearly with only two extra frets.  Interestingly - in the photo, Seeger is playing capoed up 2, in what would have been standard tuning.  What is also interesting is the somewhat unusual tailpiece - which can be seen in the photo.  It appears to have some sort of solid metal extension  approaching the bridge.  (If anyone knows more about that type of tailpiece, I would love to learn.

Unfortunately, the original long neck Pete had made from his Vega Whyte Ladie was stolen from his car in 1949 and has never been seen since.  Subsequent long necks he had made (or made himself) added three frets to the standard neck and it was this standard that Vega took up to replicate in about 1958 with their Vega Seeger and Folklore models.

Be the first to comment on “The first long neck banjo - 1944-1949”

You must sign into your myHangout account before you can post comments.

More posts from phdm

Newest Posts

Click for Details 'titanium' 3 hrs

More >  

Hangout Network Help

View All Topics  |  View Categories