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Feb 21, 2024 - 11:44:15 AM



359 posts since 12/7/2017

I’d like to get information about these Vega vip and Mastertone listed on this website :

Feb 21, 2024 - 12:20:37 PM

1430 posts since 11/29/2004

The Gibson was engraved and gold plated by Bob Flesher of Liberty Banjo, they upgraded a number of older gibson's with engraving and gold plating in the 70's. There is a Florentine that Bob did the carving, engraving and neck building on Ceres banjo site..

Edited by - DHutchens on 02/21/2024 12:26:19

Feb 21, 2024 - 12:25:44 PM

1430 posts since 11/29/2004


Edited by - DHutchens on 02/21/2024 12:27:21

Feb 21, 2024 - 12:26:23 PM

15644 posts since 10/30/2008

The VEGA is a custom (I guess) banjo built up from a VIP pot and neck. Not a deep dish Vega Vox. Thepeghead shape and label with Needham Heights Mass date it to late 1960s. VIP didn't have carved heel, so that is custom. Resonator is custom. Gold plate and rhinestones are customer.

The yellow label with the serial number starts with a "4" instead of the usual "1", so perhaps that is a factory indicator of a custom order.

It has the "3-hole" Tu Ba Phone tone ring. Looks like some added holes showing through tone ring "skirt" on the outside of the rim.

Mighty ornate.

Feb 21, 2024 - 1:09:04 PM

13066 posts since 10/27/2006

Vega was a small company by the 1960s. They would build pretty much anything the customer wanted and if some of the work needed to be sent out, they could do that. I see no reason to believe that this tenor wasn't delivered to the customer that way. Banjo bands often had some extremely tacky ornamentation by today's standards (I grew up around them in the 1950s–'60s). Bacon would slap rhinestones on anything and some Gibson banjos were bling'd with them. There's no reason that Vega wouldn't if asked, too.

Custom work was good money in a time where a middle-class wage was around $100. That was Vega's minimum upcharge for a blonde neck. Those had to be carved by hand—the carving machines in use since the 1930s left scotch marks at the heel and headstock that were covered up by a dark brown stain. Vega wasn't turning that business away.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Gaudy ornamentation such as this does bring in more money but often far less than the sellers hope.

Feb 21, 2024 - 4:21:13 PM



8 posts since 1/14/2024

The Gibson is a real mystery to me. If it is an older Gibson, how old or is it really a Gibson. No hole arch top tone ring with a one piece flange and mahogany res and neck? Stain on the resonator a little heavy handed. Are the thumb screw brackets correct? Picture not clear enough but the label suspect? Font on the mastertone block one I have not seen. And the coordinator rods aren't gold plated, why not do those also. I know Gibson did a lot of strange things but this is just weird. Curious.

Feb 22, 2024 - 2:29:54 AM

2773 posts since 1/4/2009

If you look real close at the label on that Gibson the test isn’t aligned properly, it’s a fake label. For what it’s worth nought not be a real Gibson

Feb 22, 2024 - 7:21:33 AM

14934 posts since 1/15/2005
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I don't think anything about the Gibson is right. Since the owner, I think, is mostly a 4-string guy, we all know that just about nothing relating to originality is important to them (many of them anyway).

Feb 22, 2024 - 7:40:45 AM

8196 posts since 9/21/2007
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The Vega resonator has been repainted on the inside, the autograph was masked off.

Yeah, the Shakey's Pizza Parlor era boomers loved to re-plate, "restore" and upgrade banjos.

Feb 22, 2024 - 1:18:18 PM

13066 posts since 10/27/2006

Originally posted by Joel Hooks

The Vega resonator has been repainted on the inside, the autograph was masked off.

Yeah, the Shakey's Pizza Parlor era boomers loved to re-plate, "restore" and upgrade banjos.

Nonsense. It was our parents who did that. We boomers were too young to think that was cool. Now, if they had dayglow paint and flower power stickers, yeah... that would be boomers for certain.

I grew up in Sacramento in the '50s and '60s — could have been Banjo and Accordion Band Headquarters for the West Coast. Heck, the original Shakey's opened there the year I was born. Every large music store had their own ensembles performing at every civic event and store opening, it seemed. I saw a ton of these banjos growing up, all played by folks my parents' age or older. 

When I moved to San Jose in '69, there was far less activity and such banjos were few in the late Charlie Takagawa's Penninsula Banjo Band. 

Of course, that was then. These monstrosities do evoke a nostalgia which is why some play them now. Can't account for that.

Feb 26, 2024 - 7:16:09 AM



2616 posts since 11/29/2005

The Gibson has a 5 string tension hoop. And a huge wooden shim between the heel and rim. The gold plating looks various age, should have gold plated rods to match. The mahogany shades of probably a little off if held in hand, as it looks like the neck and resonator might be from different years. The mastertone engraved block has an “R” that sticks out to me as odd.

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