Banjo Hangout Logo
Banjo Hangout Logo

Premier Sponsors

992
Banjo Lovers Online


May 16, 2021 - 7:13 PM
likes this
3 posts since 5/16/2021

Hi all,

A little over a decade ago I inherited my great uncle's vintage banjo. I'm a saxophone player and don't know anything about banjos and am wondering how much it's worth. I'm thinking of selling it because I'm never going to use it. Here's some basic information about it with photos:

I believe it's a Vega "Silver Bell" Tenor Banjo
I have the original receipt and instruction manual, with a couple of branded tools that I assume are original
Also have the original case which is in good condition

I appreciate any advice/suggestions on price and any information about this banjo in general :)

Edited by - Bill Rogers on 05/16/2021 22:29:40

May 16, 2021 - 7:44:26 PM
like this

2499 posts since 5/2/2012

I'll be the first. Post lots of pictures. Headstock front and back, neck (fretboard side, to see the inlays), pot (the round part, front, back and side).  Anything indicating the maker, model, serial number, etc.  BTW, did Vega have a Silver Bell model? 

Edited by - thisoldman on 05/16/2021 19:53:34

May 16, 2021 - 9:15:57 PM
like this

11414 posts since 10/27/2006

quote:
Originally posted by thisoldman

… BTW, did Vega have a Silver Bell model? 


Of course not.

Anyway, post lots of pictures so that we can all see.

May 16, 2021 - 10:08:50 PM
like this

rcc56

USA

3530 posts since 2/20/2016

Sam has a couple of pictures on his home page. More would help, but:

It appears to be a Vega style M tenor banjo made somewhere between 1924 and perhaps 1930.
Vega was a major banjo maker, based in Boston. Their instruments were well made.
If you can remove the wooden back from the banjo, which is held on by the screw in the center, you can confirm the model name, and you will find a serial number. We can date the year the instrument was built from the serial number.
While you're at it, take a couple of pictures of the inside of the banjo from different angles, and also a couple more pictures showing the sides of the neck and the sides of the banjo rim.

This is a good quality instrument. The price sounds low because 4 string tenor banjos were not in demand for decades, although they are starting to achieve a bit more demand now, mostly from players of British Isles folk music.

This instrument was originally built to be tuned in fifths, C-G-D-A, the same as a viola. Many modern players now string them lower, G-D-A-E, an octave below a violin. To make it work with the lower tuning, it would have to be strung with a slightly heavier gauge of strings.

If it's in pretty good shape, it might bring $800 or $900, maybe a little more on a really good day. Sellers on Reverb sometimes ask a lot more, but they usually don't have much luck at the higher prices. You might consider holding on to the banjo for a couple of years-- with the increasing popularity of Irish music, its market value may go up.

Sam, the Silver Bell tag does not belong with this banjo. It belongs with another banjo that was made by the Bacon company. But the "Care of your banjo" booklet and the Vega key style wrench belong with the banjo in your pictures. Without a clear picture of the tuning pegs, I cannot tell whether the Grover tag belongs with this banjo or with a different instrument.  Collectors will like the presence of the booklet and the wrench.  When you sell the banjo, mention them in the ad.  They might get you a little extra money on the sale.

Edited by - rcc56 on 05/16/2021 22:20:58

May 17, 2021 - 12:08:01 AM
likes this

banjoy

USA

9530 posts since 7/1/2006
Online Now

Here's a Vega Style M Tubaphone banjo on Reverb which appears to be the same banjo:

reverb.com/item/37601977-vega-...anjo-1927

Nice banjo, if you're into tenors.

And the Silver Belle tag is not for that banjo as pointed out above. Alvarez also made a Silver Belle model but that's a different animal.

May 17, 2021 - 5:13:13 AM
likes this

beegee

USA

22374 posts since 7/6/2005

quote:
Originally posted by banjoy

Here's a Vega Style M Tubaphone banjo on Reverb which appears to be the same banjo:

reverb.com/item/37601977-vega-...anjo-1927

Nice banjo, if you're into tenors.

And the Silver Belle tag is not for that banjo as pointed out above. Alvarez also made a Silver Belle model but that's a different animal.


And of course , Bacon & Day featured the Silver Bell line.

Edited by - beegee on 05/17/2021 05:13:31

May 17, 2021 - 5:16:25 AM
likes this

banjoy

USA

9530 posts since 7/1/2006
Online Now

quote:
Originally posted by beegee
quote:
Originally posted by banjoy

Here's a Vega Style M Tubaphone banjo on Reverb which appears to be the same banjo:

reverb.com/item/37601977-vega-...anjo-1927

Nice banjo, if you're into tenors.

And the Silver Belle tag is not for that banjo as pointed out above. Alvarez also made a Silver Belle model but that's a different animal.


And of course , Bacon & Day featured the Silver Bell line.


Yeah, I know. It was mentioned in the post directly above mine and it's common knowledge. I was just pointing out there's another "Silver Belle" out in the wild...

May 17, 2021 - 7:33:24 PM

3 posts since 5/16/2021

Wow, thank you all for the replies and information! I'm blown away by the help from the Banjo Hangout community :)

I can't figure out how to add photos to this forum, so I've linked them below in a shared google folder. After taking off the back of the Banjo (I didn't even know you could that) I found out that it was a Vega Tubaphone. Serial number 73159. If anyone is willing to take a look at the photos and let me know what they think is a fair price, I would greatly appreciate it. I saw several on reverb listed for $800 - $1300.

Photos: drive.google.com/drive/folders...p=sharing

May 17, 2021 - 8:35:47 PM
likes this

rcc56

USA

3530 posts since 2/20/2016

The banjo is a Vega Tubaphone style M made in 1927.
Except for the scratches on the resonator [the wooden back that you removed], it appears to be in better than average condition.


Beware of going to Reverb to check prices. Many of their sellers indulge in wishful thinking. If you do look there, check the "sold" listings. They will not tell you what the actual selling price was, but what the asking price was when the instrument sold.  I don't see any $1300 style M banjos in their sold listings at this time.  $1300 style M's have a history of sitting around for a couple of years without selling.

If it were me and I wanted a reasonably quick sale, I would ask a maximum of $995 and be prepared to take a bit less. If I wanted to sell it immediately, I would ask no more than $850.

If you're not in a hurry, you can try for more, but it may be difficult to sell; at least right now. 

I do believe that chances are good that Vega Tubaphone tenors are going to go up in value.  But I do not know how much or how fast their prices will increase.  If you want to wait a year, you might be able to sell it for perhaps $1200.

Your banjo does appear to have Grover tuners, so you can include the Grover tag along with the Vega tag and Vega wrench in your ad when you list the instrument.  Their inclusion may help the instrument to sell.

Edited by - rcc56 on 05/17/2021 20:50:06

May 18, 2021 - 5:52:25 AM

3 posts since 5/16/2021

Thank you Bob!

May 21, 2021 - 10:16:55 AM

11414 posts since 10/27/2006

quote:
Originally posted by beegee
quote:
Originally posted by banjoy

Here's a Vega Style M Tubaphone banjo on Reverb which appears to be the same banjo:

reverb.com/item/37601977-vega-...anjo-1927

Nice banjo, if you're into tenors.

And the Silver Belle tag is not for that banjo as pointed out above. Alvarez also made a Silver Belle model but that's a different animal.


And of course , Bacon & Day featured the Silver Bell line.


Not the same banjo. The resonator is correct on the Reverb banjo but not Sam's. 

Sam's resonator may be a much later Vega resonator but, without pictures, we'll never know. It's possible the flanges aren't original either. The serial number and other dowel stick markings as well as the nuts will provide more clues.

May 28, 2021 - 11:18:09 AM

1042 posts since 12/8/2006

The Reverb M has 30 brackets (big head). v. 28 bracket banjo in question.

Hangout Network Help

View All Topics  |  View Categories

0.25