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May 16, 2024 - 12:12:32 PM
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241 posts since 1/7/2021

Hey,

I just picked up this banjo which was listed as a 1930s whyte laydie pot with a 60s neck on it.

It sounds and plays great, so I'm happy with it. But I'm curious if those in the know can provide any information on it.

I'm guessing it was originally a tenor that got a conversion neck made, hence the title.










 

Edited by - A Drum On A Stick on 05/16/2024 12:19:07

May 16, 2024 - 1:55 PM

rcc56

USA

5149 posts since 2/20/2016

The serial number on the pot is from the very early 1930's.
The neck does not appear to me to be a Vega product, but it appears possible that at least some of the inlays might[?] have been sourced from a Vega neck.

Edited by - rcc56 on 05/16/2024 13:56:02

May 16, 2024 - 2:02:58 PM
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3382 posts since 9/5/2006

Heck, I'd just enjoy it.

May 16, 2024 - 3:40:30 PM
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2042 posts since 1/13/2012

Nothing about the neck or dowel looks Vega to me.

May 17, 2024 - 10:58:41 AM

241 posts since 1/7/2021

quote:
Originally posted by rcc56

The serial number on the pot is from the very early 1930's.
The neck does not appear to me to be a Vega product, but it appears possible that at least some of the inlays might[?] have been sourced from a Vega neck.


Thanks.  Looking at photos of the real necks, I don't think the inlays are from an original.  Mine seem somewhat crude in comparison.

I wonder if this is a one-off someone made, or if some company was producing these necks.

One thing I found interesting is that the truss rod in the neck is a hex-head that matches the tension hooks.  Only need one tool to adjust the whole banjo!

May 17, 2024 - 11:00:35 AM

241 posts since 1/7/2021

quote:
Originally posted by Bob Buckingham

Heck, I'd just enjoy it.


That's the plan.  I've barely put it down since I got it.

May 17, 2024 - 11:46:45 AM

47 posts since 6/9/2023

That's a cool conversion! Enjoy that thing!

May 18, 2024 - 2:03:54 PM
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420 posts since 6/15/2006

Understand why you are so happy with it. But if you buy some Vega style closed ball nuts, (and hooks if necessary), you will be twice as happy :) I know it :). Steen

May 21, 2024 - 10:20:56 AM

13163 posts since 10/27/2006

quote:
Originally posted by steen

Understand why you are so happy with it. But if you buy some Vega style closed ball nuts, (and hooks if necessary), you will be twice as happy :) I know it :). Steen


Normally, I would disagree but those Gibson style nuts look sooooo wrong.

Plan on hooks and nuts if you replace the hardware — unless you can verify that those hooks are the correct Gibson 8-26 thread and that they are in good shape. Old Vega (Waverly) threads were 8-24 and no one makes aftermarket nuts to fit those anymore. Replacement hardware is 8-26 only nowadays. 

I like that the armrest is worn to the brass. Replacement Vega style rests do not fit properly so leave it alone.

Interesting, cool banjo!

This could have been a plectrum once upon a time but, without the original dowel or tailpiece, no one will ever know. When I bought my converted Vegaphone, it came in the original plectrum case, otherwise, I would have been clueless. Though I do have the original dowel in mine, Vegaphone tenors and plectrums had the same markings.

Edited by - mikehalloran on 05/21/2024 10:26:31

May 21, 2024 - 12:43:41 PM

2837 posts since 1/4/2009

I dont think vega ever made new necks for old banjos , if thats what your asking. Many luthiers however have made new five string necks for old vegas over the years similar to how they do with gibsons. I think you have one of those. Might be information on the inside of the neck heel if you take it off. That is not a vega made neck as others have said.

May 21, 2024 - 12:56:28 PM
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13163 posts since 10/27/2006

quote:
Originally posted by kyleb

I dont think vega ever made new necks for old banjos , if thats what your asking. ...

 

Correct but...

Some Vega dealers/repair stations did have access to replacement necks but nothing like the one on this banjo. Normally, they would be for repair and there wa no consideration for historical accuracy. I have seen '50s and '60s necks on '20s banjos. Someone used to post here about having done a number of authorized Pete Seeger conversions with necks supplied by Vega back in the day.

May 22, 2024 - 8:10:53 AM

241 posts since 1/7/2021

quote:
Originally posted by mikehalloran
quote:
Originally posted by steen

Understand why you are so happy with it. But if you buy some Vega style closed ball nuts, (and hooks if necessary), you will be twice as happy :) I know it :). Steen


Normally, I would disagree but those Gibson style nuts look sooooo wrong.

Plan on hooks and nuts if you replace the hardware — unless you can verify that those hooks are the correct Gibson 8-26 thread and that they are in good shape. Old Vega (Waverly) threads were 8-24 and no one makes aftermarket nuts to fit those anymore. Replacement hardware is 8-26 only nowadays. 

I like that the armrest is worn to the brass. Replacement Vega style rests do not fit properly so leave it alone.

Interesting, cool banjo!

This could have been a plectrum once upon a time but, without the original dowel or tailpiece, no one will ever know. When I bought my converted Vegaphone, it came in the original plectrum case, otherwise, I would have been clueless. Though I do have the original dowel in mine, Vegaphone tenors and plectrums had the same markings.


I don't see a lot of closed end nuts available.  Are these the appropriate style? https://rickardbanjos.ca/collections/hardware/products/9-32-hex-closed-end-nut

I could see replacing them, especially if the hooks don't need replacement as well.

The armrest was loose and rattly when I got the banjo, but I managed to get it tight by slightly repositioning the hooks that secure it.

Speaking of period-correct(ish) adornments, I've been considering adding a ferrule to the end of the dowel stick to hide some minor alterations to the end of the stick and potentially add a little more strength.  If I understand correctly the small-style would be period-appropriate for the pot, though the longer ones look better to my eye.

Edited by - A Drum On A Stick on 05/22/2024 08:15:32

May 22, 2024 - 8:13:24 AM

241 posts since 1/7/2021

quote:
Originally posted by kyleb

I dont think vega ever made new necks for old banjos , if thats what your asking. Many luthiers however have made new five string necks for old vegas over the years similar to how they do with gibsons. I think you have one of those. Might be information on the inside of the neck heel if you take it off. That is not a vega made neck as others have said.


Good point, thanks.  The banjo went through two(!) neck resets shortly before my purchase, so I'm not sure much of anything will be left on the heel.  But I'll keep an eye open for any marks whenever it next comes off.

Definitely not important, it's just fun to try and figure out bits of the story of how it got here.

May 22, 2024 - 9:29:12 AM
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13163 posts since 10/27/2006

quote:
Originally posted by A Drum On A Stick
quote:
Originally posted by mikehalloran
quote:
Originally posted by steen

Understand why you are so happy with it. But if you buy some Vega style closed ball nuts, (and hooks if necessary), you will be twice as happy :) I know it :). Steen


Normally, I would disagree but those Gibson style nuts look sooooo wrong.

Plan on hooks and nuts if you replace the hardware — unless you can verify that those hooks are the correct Gibson 8-26 thread and that they are in good shape. Old Vega (Waverly) threads were 8-24 and no one makes aftermarket nuts to fit those anymore. Replacement hardware is 8-26 only nowadays. 

I like that the armrest is worn to the brass. Replacement Vega style rests do not fit properly so leave it alone.

Interesting, cool banjo!

This could have been a plectrum once upon a time but, without the original dowel or tailpiece, no one will ever know. When I bought my converted Vegaphone, it came in the original plectrum case, otherwise, I would have been clueless. Though I do have the original dowel in mine, Vegaphone tenors and plectrums had the same markings.


I don't see a lot of closed end nuts available.  Are these the appropriate style? https://rickardbanjos.ca/collections/hardware/products/9-32-hex-closed-end-nut

I could see replacing them, especially if the hooks don't need replacement as well.

The armrest was loose and rattly when I got the banjo, but I managed to get it tight by slightly repositioning the hooks that secure it.

Speaking of period-correct(ish) adornments, I've been considering adding a ferrule to the end of the dowel stick to hide some minor alterations to the end of the stick and potentially add a little more strength.  If I understand correctly the small-style would be period-appropriate for the pot, though the longer ones look better to my eye.


The nickel plated nut gives you the look. These have 8-26 threads and might fit the hooks you have. 

As for the ferrule, the short one is easier to fit if the dowel is not the exact dimensions of a vintage stick.

May 22, 2024 - 11:22:46 AM

15749 posts since 10/30/2008

I'm completely unaware of any necks like that from Vega in the "60s".

Many Japanese companies made necks similar to this by the 1970s and 80s though.

Whatever, it's a nice looking banjo if not price too high.

May 24, 2024 - 7:44:28 AM

13163 posts since 10/27/2006

quote:
Originally posted by The Old Timer

I'm completely unaware of any necks like that from Vega in the "60s".

Many Japanese companies made necks similar to this by the 1970s and 80s though.

Whatever, it's a nice looking banjo if not price too high.


Agreed. The neck blank has a Gibson style volute. How many Vega necks have this? Zero? None? Where's the center laminate that all Vega necks had in the '60s along with te scorching from the carving machines? Handmade blonde Vega necks just don't look like this from the back — many of us have very nice examples, myself included. 

We don't know the scale -- any bets that it's 26 1/4 or 26 3/8"? This can easily be a StewMac neck blank. A Vega neck wil have a 27" scale and very few build to that including Wyatt and Bart.

Although possible, I don't know of anyone doing this kind of pearl in the 1960s or even '70s. I imagine that Chuck Ericson would know (is he a member?).

One reason I keep mentioning the 8-26 thread pitch is that I am half expecting this banjo to have metric threads as so much aftermarket hardware from the 1980s-2000s was.

Edited by - mikehalloran on 05/24/2024 07:53:15

May 24, 2024 - 11:55:31 AM

420 posts since 6/15/2006

If the Rickard theads dont fit your hooks, Sture Svarén in Sweeden once sold me some of these Vega style hooks and nuts. He aso once sold me some flat-hooks that matched precicely with some original old Vega Style nuts on a W. Lange banjo, and as I remember, it was not very expensive, but it is many years ago. Gold Tone also have closed end nuts. They are not 100% alike, but very close and certainly good enough, if they can match. One can always start with one nut.
Has the tension hoop nutches for the hooks or is it just flat, or is the upper surface a little biased or what? It is hard to see on the pictures, but mostly the hooks sink just a little deeper into the tention hoop I think.
But it certainly is a nice thing, that I would like to have :) Especially if it plays well. Steen

May 24, 2024 - 12:17:17 PM

420 posts since 6/15/2006

If The Rickard nuts don´t fit the hooks, Sture Svarén in sweeden sold these Vega style nuts years ago (and round and flat-hooks also, that could match them). I have not seen them at StewMac, but Gold Tone also has this style of nuts. Not 100% alike, but close and certainly good enough if they can match. One can start with one nut.
Has the tension hoop notches for the hooks or is it flat or with a biased surface. It is hard to see, but the hooks dont to seem to sink one bit into the tension hoop on the pictures (or at least very little).
But a very nice thing, that I would like to be seen with - epecially when it also plays well :). Steen

Sorry, I thought my first post was lost, since it did not appear, when I pressed "post". (and I have no permission to delete it :(

Edited by - steen on 05/24/2024 12:23:04

May 24, 2024 - 1:14:19 PM

241 posts since 1/7/2021

quote:
Originally posted by mikehalloran
quote:
Originally posted by The Old Timer

I'm completely unaware of any necks like that from Vega in the "60s".

Many Japanese companies made necks similar to this by the 1970s and 80s though.

Whatever, it's a nice looking banjo if not price too high.


Agreed. The neck blank has a Gibson style volute. How many Vega necks have this? Zero? None? Where's the center laminate that all Vega necks had in the '60s along with te scorching from the carving machines? Handmade blonde Vega necks just don't look like this from the back — many of us have very nice examples, myself included. 

We don't know the scale -- any bets that it's 26 1/4 or 26 3/8"? This can easily be a StewMac neck blank. A Vega neck wil have a 27" scale and very few build to that including Wyatt and Bart.

Although possible, I don't know of anyone doing this kind of pearl in the 1960s or even '70s. I imagine that Chuck Ericson would know (is he a member?).

One reason I keep mentioning the 8-26 thread pitch is that I am half expecting this banjo to have metric threads as so much aftermarket hardware from the 1980s-2000s was.


Right on the money -- 26 1/4 scale length

Regarding the hooks, they seem to have a 5/32 diameter measured just above where the threads start, and by my count 26 threads per inch.

The nuts from my gibson rb-175 don't fit, nor do the ones from my goodtime or gold tone.

However the nuts from my SS Stewart Student screw on easily (Stewart nut included in picture)

That said, the only one of those banjos I can guarantee came with the original hardware is the goodtime.




Edited by - A Drum On A Stick on 05/24/2024 13:15:26

May 24, 2024 - 1:21:48 PM

241 posts since 1/7/2021

quote:
Originally posted by steen

If the Rickard theads dont fit your hooks, Sture Svarén in Sweeden once sold me some of these Vega style hooks and nuts. He aso once sold me some flat-hooks that matched precicely with some original old Vega Style nuts on a W. Lange banjo, and as I remember, it was not very expensive, but it is many years ago. Gold Tone also have closed end nuts. They are not 100% alike, but very close and certainly good enough, if they can match. One can always start with one nut.
Has the tension hoop nutches for the hooks or is it just flat, or is the upper surface a little biased or what? It is hard to see on the pictures, but mostly the hooks sink just a little deeper into the tention hoop I think.
But it certainly is a nice thing, that I would like to have :) Especially if it plays well. Steen


The hoop is notched.  The hooks do sit down in the notches.  I'm not sure how perfect the fit is supposed to be, but they look pretty good to me.


 

May 25, 2024 - 6:28:57 AM

420 posts since 6/15/2006

The hooks are supposed to sink to the bottom of the notches, so it looks as if your hooks are a tad too big for the notches. But it is a mattter of cosmetics I think. To some it means a lot - to others nothing. To me it would mean something :) Steen.

Jun 1, 2024 - 9:58:38 AM

53 posts since 11/7/2006

I just want to hear it.

Jun 9, 2024 - 11:04:20 AM

241 posts since 1/7/2021

quote:
Originally posted by decorah818

I just want to hear it.


 

Never uploaded any audio here before, let's see if this works.

Not my most impressive playing, but I like how the notes ring out playing this tune slowly.


Jun 9, 2024 - 5:03:32 PM
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53 posts since 11/7/2006

It worked. It sounds great!!

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