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Another VEGA Sonny Osborne discovered at on line dealer!!!!

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Oct 29, 2020 - 11:03:12 AM
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13475 posts since 10/30/2008

In about 15 years of cruising the Internet instrument dealers watching for a VEGA Sonny Osborne (found only 1 for sale, and that through the BHO) today I stumbled on one!

Guitar Works in Evanston Illinois has one that appears to be in excellent condition and all original including the case!

I'm adding this to my spreadsheet, so now I think I'm up to knowing of either 7 or 8 Sonny Osborne's by serial number or image.

Standard disclaimer -- I have NOTHING to do with this offering.

reverb.com/item/35141401-1968-...ing-banjo

Oct 29, 2020 - 11:17:46 AM

3406 posts since 5/29/2011

I understand that Vega made less than a dozen of these, one of which belongs to Sonny. I wonder why he usually appeared on stage in the late 60's and early 70's with a regular production model Vega. I remember seeing the Osborne Brothers live for the first time and he was using a standard model much like the Martin-made Vega I later owned.

Oct 29, 2020 - 11:25:11 AM

13475 posts since 10/30/2008

Mark I've heard that perhaps only 10 were made?

Oct 29, 2020 - 12:32:35 PM

2219 posts since 9/25/2006
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I thought this had six strings on it? Isn't that what makes it a Sonny Osborne Vega? Am I wrong on that?

Oct 29, 2020 - 12:38:07 PM
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ChunoTheDog

Canada

440 posts since 8/9/2019

quote:
Originally posted by revellfa

I thought this had six strings on it? Isn't that what makes it a Sonny Osborne Vega? Am I wrong on that?


Short answer - yes

Long answer - yes

Oct 29, 2020 - 2:07:25 PM
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13475 posts since 10/30/2008

The original and cataloged VEGA Sonny Osborne was/is a five string. Sonny's 6-string was made up for him by a private luthier who made a new neck for him copying the 5 string neck inlays.

None of the factory VEGAs were 6 string.

 

Edited by - The Old Timer on 10/29/2020 14:08:54

Oct 29, 2020 - 2:11:54 PM
Players Union Member

Blackjaxe47

Canada

1565 posts since 6/20/2014

WOW, 10 ply shell, wonder how it sounds. No Volute on the back of the neck either, that's different.

Oct 29, 2020 - 2:53:08 PM

2204 posts since 1/16/2010

Wow! Good find, Dick! It’s a beaut! That thick rim is also something I noticed on these, compared to the thinner Scruggs model. I’d like to hear one of these in person after it’s been professionally setup. Heard one on a phone camera one time over the internet...didn’t do it justice.

A very special banjo...I wonder what Sonny thinks about it?

Thanks for sharing,

Dow

Oct 29, 2020 - 4:06:33 PM

13475 posts since 10/30/2008

AFAIK, no VEGA banjo ever had a volute on the peghead.

Dow, it is my opinion the rim is identical to the Scruggs and Pro, except for the "cut" for the Whyte Laydie vs. Tu Ba Phone tone ring. Same thickness, same plies. I compared my Osborne to my Scruggs and couldn't see a difference.

Oct 29, 2020 - 5:50:23 PM
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623 posts since 1/28/2013

I have a 64 Scruggs Vega, and that rim in the photo looks thicker than mine. If it has the same narrow neck it's not a banjo for me. It also may have the same baseball bat neck also. I had to get a new modern wider and thinner neck on mine. I sold the original neck.

Edited by - jan dupree on 10/29/2020 17:51:48

Oct 29, 2020 - 6:01:28 PM

2204 posts since 1/16/2010

quote:
Originally posted by The Old Timer

AFAIK, no VEGA banjo ever had a volute on the peghead.

Dow, it is my opinion the rim is identical to the Scruggs and Pro, except for the "cut" for the Whyte Laydie vs. Tu Ba Phone tone ring. Same thickness, same plies. I compared my Osborne to my Scruggs and couldn't see a difference.


Dick...my '63 Scruggs has a much thinner rim... 5 ply. I wonder when the ply change happened, why...and if there is really any difference is tone? 
 

Dow


Edited by - Texican65 on 10/29/2020 18:02:17

Oct 29, 2020 - 6:15:27 PM

2204 posts since 1/16/2010

Well...I guess we at least know in 1964 that the rim was thin too...as Jan stated the same about his Scruggs Vega.

So...who has a ‘65 or a ‘66 to check and see how thick the rim is?

When did Sonny represent Vega...perhaps his were mid to later 60’s Vega’s and he recommended the change?

Dow

Oct 29, 2020 - 7:07:37 PM
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3889 posts since 5/1/2003

Sounds like a good conversation for “ask Sonny anything”.
Bluegrass today. Y’all know about that?

Oct 29, 2020 - 7:08:43 PM

13475 posts since 10/30/2008

The VEGA Sonny Osbornes in my spreadsheet all seem to date from 1968.

Oct 29, 2020 - 7:13:16 PM

2204 posts since 1/16/2010

quote:
Originally posted by The Old Timer

The VEGA Sonny Osbornes in my spreadsheet all seem to date from 1968.


So how about your Scruggs and Pro models with thick rims...what's the manufacture date on those? 

Another change over the years was the coordinator rods. My Scruggs has 2 thin rods, where I've seen others that have a thin one on bottom and larger one above...like this Osborne featured. 
 

I wonder that when the rim thickness changed...the coordinator rod design might have changed also? 

Jan...how are the rods on your '64?

 

Dow

Edited by - Texican65 on 10/29/2020 19:20:22

Oct 29, 2020 - 7:13:39 PM
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13475 posts since 10/30/2008

Here's a photo of the rim on my ca 1967 Scruggs Custom (gold plated). Higher number of thinner plies, compared to Dow's 63. Similar rim to the Osborne mentioned in the topic title. I'll dig it out and measure it tomorrow.


Oct 29, 2020 - 7:43:47 PM
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168 posts since 4/3/2009

Can't say much about the banjo (no Vega banjo experience), but Guitar Works in Evanston IL was my favorite music store when I lived up there. Great stock, good prices, excellent service department. Terry Straker was the owner then, don't know if he still is. Terry was very free with volunteering his repair expertise, it's part of why I enjoy fixing my own instruments. Jethro Burns used to frequent that store, I saw him once. Thanks for the memory jog!

Oct 29, 2020 - 9:12:48 PM

3406 posts since 5/29/2011

quote:
Originally posted by The Old Timer

Mark I've heard that perhaps only 10 were made?


That sounds right.

Oct 30, 2020 - 3:51:27 AM

Bill H

USA

1421 posts since 11/7/2010

That is a corker. Interesting that it has a friction fifth string tuner.

Oct 30, 2020 - 4:27:06 AM
Players Union Member

Eric A

USA

872 posts since 10/15/2019

I can't tell from the pics, so for us uneducated types, what kind of tone ring are we talking about here?

Oct 30, 2020 - 6:24:01 AM

Brett

USA

2397 posts since 11/29/2005

I have a conspiracy theory. Everyone says, they mostly saw Sonny play standard Vega Pro IIs, and not his model. Maybe, if they have thicker rims, he didn’t care for the tone of the thicker rim. I have couple Scruggs, vip, Pro II, wonders. I believe that’s an undrilled vip rim. They Are thicker to my knowledge.
As far as the Vega 6 string neck, i think that was CE Ward, then Sonny had a Gibson copy made by Marion Kenneth Kirk, and I went by and got orig drawings and posted pix on here years ago. The 6 sting neck Marion Made was custom inlay and headstock shape best I recall.

Oct 30, 2020 - 6:29:44 AM

5497 posts since 12/20/2005

I wonder if Sonny replaced the 6-string neck with a 5-string neck, or maybe he sold the complete 6-string banjo ?

Oct 30, 2020 - 8:03:35 AM

224 posts since 5/13/2009

Looks like the Scruggs had a Tubaphone ring, while the Osborne had a cast flathead ring. Maybe the cast tone ring required a 3/4" rim.

Oct 30, 2020 - 9:02:14 AM
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13475 posts since 10/30/2008

The Osborne model had a Whyte Laydie tone ring.

Oct 30, 2020 - 9:07:56 AM

Brett

USA

2397 posts since 11/29/2005

The Osborne is supposed to be either white laydie tone ring assy or tubaphone/audiosonic/barbell/dogbone tone ring. As far as I know, the only difference in the latter tone ring is hole shape or slits in tone ring. To my knowledge Vega used no cast flathead ring, and I couldn’t tell from pix what the ring is in the reverb ad.
I really thought the sonny version used same exact pot assy as Scruggs with the difference being they were mostly white laydie tone ring assy with few tubaphone rings. But maybe that is lore I’ve read on here compounded by an aging mind, or I’ve made it up. I agree the number 10 or 12 sounds about what I’ve heard before.
Brett.

Oct 30, 2020 - 9:13:30 AM

5497 posts since 12/20/2005

Maybe, the initial thoughts were that a Whyte Ladie tonering would sound best with a more thin rim ?

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