I've just finished restoring this great players-grade vintage Vega five-string. The serial number dates it to 1920, which means it turned 100 this year.
Although this banjo is structurally in great shape, it required a bit of restoration when I acquired it, including:
- New hooks with reproduction vega-style ball-end nuts, and new no-knot tailpiece (all made in Canada).
- Some binding replaced on the treble side of the neck (replacement binding is from a non-salvageable Vega neck form the same period).
- Regluing a crack on one of the headstock at the 3rd string tuner.
- Replacing after-market guitar-style headstock tuners with 5-star planetary tuners.
- New goatskin head.
- Planing down and refinishing the headstock veneer (see photos/discussion below).
- Filling spots where side-dots had once been added using matching binding dust (see photos).
The work above is why I'm calling this a "player's grade" banjo, and it sure is a player! The 10 3/4" pot with the "little wonder" style tone ring give it great punch and clarity and projection. The original 5-string Vega necks are hard to beat. The comfortable contour and the feel of the finish after a century of literal "hand polishing" make for a great playing experience. The neck is straight with a normal very slight relief (~0.015" at 7th fret) under full tension. Currently strung with Ernie Ball Earthwood "frailing" steel strings, the action is just shy of 3/16" at the 12th fret with a 1/2" bridge. This action is great for clawhammer as it gives great clearance for playing over the upper frets but is still low enough to play comfortably.
A previous owner had added some DIY inlays to the headstock, which is why it has been planed down. The front of the headstock was then refinished with several coats of True Oil, matching the semi-gloss lustre of the vintage finish, which is original everywhere else and which has naturally aged to a rich amber colour. A series of small pin marks (possibly from laying out the DIY inlays) at the top the headstock remain, but are not overly conspicuous (see photos).
A previous owner (probably the same one) had also added side dots using some kind of red paste/filler. These have been refilled using matching ivoroid binding dust. They can still be seen, but are now relatively inconspicuous.
The fifth string tuner is, to the best of my knowledge, the original friction peg. The Five-Star tuners have black buttons to match it. I considered replacing it, but though it takes a bit of work to get it right on pitch, it holds tune remarkably well (the saving grace of friction tuners). If you prefer a new geared fifth string tuner, this can be arranged.
I've priced this banjo to reflect that it is not a pristine specimen, but rather a great player. You won't see an original 1920s 5-string Regent for less.
Feel free to message me if you have any questions, or if you would like a sound sample.
Buyer pays shipping
Check/Money Order, Cash (in person), Paypal
Returns accepted. Buyer must contact seller within 2 days to arrange return. Refund will be given as Money Back. Buyer pays return shipping.
Condition of Item(s):
Used - Good Condition
'low crown 5-Star head' 14 min
'Figmo Alert' 1 hr