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Nov 29, 2023 - 2:44:31 PM
598 posts since 7/28/2016

I might be wrong on assumptions here so please let me know.

I am considering replacing the head on my Vega WL. It currently has a clear head that I'm not really fond of.
I have replaced the head on 3 other banjos. One has no tone ring, one has a tone hoop, and one has a Bacon style ring.

Does the WL have multiple parts ? I'm afraid if it does it will come apart and I won't be able to get it back together. I'm not that good with difficult mechanics.

Any suggestions ?

Nov 29, 2023 - 3:52:05 PM
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3267 posts since 3/30/2008

When I first started taking musical instruments apart, I made notes & crudely drew pictures to remember how things fit together in proper order. It's easier & quicker than you might think, & is well worth developing the habit.

Nov 29, 2023 - 7:52:55 PM
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792 posts since 7/10/2012

The WL has a three part tone ring, most likely. It consists of a silver spun skirt, a brass or chrome rod ring that fits inside the skirt top, and a scalloped rod ring that sits between the rod ring and the wood rim. The three parts fit together and the whole assembly should sit right on top of the rim. If you are careful, you shouldn't need to take the assembly off of the rim at all when you change the head. Just remove the hooks and tension hoop, take the old head off, put the new head on, and replace the tension hoop and the hooks and Bob's your uncle!

Nov 29, 2023 - 9:10:26 PM

5516 posts since 5/29/2011

Even if the ring comes apart when you take the old head off, it's very easy to put back together. This is a skill that you may need down the road so don't be afraid to tinker with it.

Nov 29, 2023 - 9:16:53 PM

598 posts since 7/28/2016

Bob's my uncle ?

Nov 30, 2023 - 2:55:52 AM
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Bill H

USA

2257 posts since 11/7/2010

In my experience with my Vega banjos, the tone rings tend to be snug and stay put when changing heads. The trick is to organize your work space. Cover a table with a soft towel so that any loose parts don't have a chance to drop on the floor (and roll into an inaccessible place), and work in an organized manner.

Nov 30, 2023 - 12:32:57 PM

792 posts since 7/10/2012

quote:
Originally posted by gbisignani

Bob's my uncle ?

"Bob's your uncle" is a phrase commonly used in the UK that means "and there it is", or "and there you have it", or "it's done"...

Conservative Prime Minister Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury ("Bob") appointed his nephew Arthur Balfour as Chief Secretary for Ireland in 1887, an act of nepotism, which was apparently both surprising and unpopular. Whatever other qualifications Balfour might have had, "Bob's your uncle" was seen as the conclusive one.

Nov 30, 2023 - 5:07:10 PM

70 posts since 12/8/2011

When I first started taking musical instruments apart, I made notes & crudely drew pictures to remember how things fit together in proper order. It's easier & quicker than you might think, & is well worth developing the habit.

When I'm doing something like this, I like to take pictures/videos with the camera on my phone.  (And if I can't read something printed too small, I'll take a photo then do the ol' zoom and enhance like I'm on CSI.)

Dec 1, 2023 - 11:09:05 PM

13007 posts since 10/27/2006

Vega Whyte Laydie from what era? What size head?

Dec 1, 2023 - 11:16:34 PM

598 posts since 7/28/2016

It's from the 1920-1930 (not sure) and the head looks to be around 11 3/4.

When buying a head do I order a 12" or do I need to give exact ?

Dec 2, 2023 - 2:49:15 AM

JSB88

UK

540 posts since 3/9/2017

One thing I do nowadays when taking things apart is ensure I video and photograph the disassembly process to aid the reassembly process. One advantage of living in the mobile (cell?) phone era.

Dec 2, 2023 - 3:30:30 AM

2927 posts since 2/4/2013

quote:
Originally posted by gbisignani

It's from the 1920-1930 (not sure) and the head looks to be around 11 3/4.

When buying a head do I order a 12" or do I need to give exact ?


You need to get something of the exact size you need and good suppliers have sixes measured in 16ths so an exact measurement might find you need an 11 11/16ths or 11 13/16ths rather than 11 3/4.

Dec 2, 2023 - 4:45:20 AM

DSmoke

USA

1406 posts since 11/30/2015

Bob Smakula can get you the correct head. I measure the diameter in between the tension ring in a few locations to determine which size just in case it's not perfectly round. My large pot Vega took 11-14/16.

Dec 2, 2023 - 4:51:37 AM

1894 posts since 4/25/2007

I'll second that advice from Dan. Talk to Bob.

Dec 2, 2023 - 4:52:54 AM
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3484 posts since 4/7/2010

I do have plenty of heads for large rim Vega banjos. Though Dan's used a n 11-7/8", most large Vega banjos use 11-13/16"

Here is a link to the banjo head selection on my website.

Bob Smakula
smakulafrettedinstruments.com

Dec 2, 2023 - 8:20:46 AM

13007 posts since 10/27/2006

quote:
Originally posted by gbisignani

It's from the 1920-1930 (not sure) and the head looks to be around 11 3/4.

When buying a head do I order a 12" or do I need to give exact ?


If it has 30 brackets, 11 13/16"high crown is the correct head size for these. Bob Smackula lists 4 types in the drop-down menu.

11-13/16 banjo head

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