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May 19, 2024 - 7:48:45 PM
619 posts since 1/8/2005

Based on the pictures and description of this banjo it has 20 frets, appears to have 23 inch scale, 12 and 1/4 inch head, Whyte Laydie tone ring. Sort of fits in between tenor and plectrum. Any comments appreciated


Edited by - frankabr. on 05/19/2024 19:56:59

May 19, 2024 - 9:12:03 PM
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3352 posts since 3/30/2008

A 23" scale would be a tenor.

May 20, 2024 - 2:47:04 AM
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Bill H

USA

2301 posts since 11/7/2010

I believe that Vega made a tenor with both a 19" and 23" scale.

May 20, 2024 - 3:40:53 AM
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csacwp

USA

3361 posts since 1/15/2014

Vega made many, many tenor banjos and a fair number of plectums as well.

May 20, 2024 - 4:31:19 AM
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3374 posts since 9/5/2006

I have a 17 fret tenor in great shape. It is a very good banjo.

May 20, 2024 - 4:32:50 AM

619 posts since 1/8/2005

Thanks, I am well aware of that and own and have owned many. The question is the scale and whether this fits in between both tenor, which usually is around 19-20 Inches and plectrum, which is around 25 inches? There is such a thing as a 'Tenor/Plectrum" that is in between. Bacon supposedly made them, with 20 frets also, and they could be used and tuned as either a tenor or a plectrum.

May 20, 2024 - 5:26:27 AM

470 posts since 2/11/2009

Tenor scale is normally 21-23 inches; plectrum is normally 26-27 inches. Vega did make some quite short-scale tenors, mainly prior to the mid '20s, but there is nothing at all unusual about a 23" tenor. It is not between tenor and plectrum, but firmly in tenor territory.

The 20-fret neck is slightly unusual, though I have seen them from other companies.

May 20, 2024 - 5:33:02 AM

619 posts since 1/8/2005

Yes, but how common is a Vega 20 fret tenor?

May 20, 2024 - 6:45:26 AM

8287 posts since 9/21/2007

Um... you need to measure the scale again. I used the head size as a guide and I am pretty sure this is a regular plectrum with a large head.

20 frets were common for 12" vega plectrum or regular banjos.

"Appears to have" sounds like you did not take a measurement.

May 20, 2024 - 9:24:14 AM
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Players Union Member

Emiel

Austria

10444 posts since 1/22/2003

quote:
Originally posted by csacwp

Vega made many, many tenor banjos and a fair number of plectums as well.


I think the OP meant a banjo that is neither a tenor nor a plectrum banjo, but a tenor-plectrum like the ones Gibson once made, an in-between. The "Royal PT", two banjos in one. See: http://earnestbanjo.com/wp/gibson-royal-p-t-mastertone-9242-19/

May 20, 2024 - 9:43:04 AM

619 posts since 1/8/2005

Exactly, My post concerns whether this in fact is based on the same design, a "Tenor/Plectrum." I don't think
that many are aware of that type of banjo as I wasn't until I saw this particular banjo and started doing some research. A "Tenor/Plectrum" was a banjo that could either be strung as a tenor, with lighter strings and tuned as such, or a plectrum with heavier strings, and tuned and played like a plectrum. In essence, two banjos in one.

May 20, 2024 - 5:26:01 PM
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2818 posts since 1/4/2009

whats the serial number on this vega? Ive seen vega tenors of various scale lengths.

May 20, 2024 - 7:37:55 PM

619 posts since 1/8/2005

I just purchased it, it has not arrived yet. When it does, I'll post the serial number and more accurately give the scale.

May 21, 2024 - 9:06:58 AM
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13138 posts since 10/27/2006

Vega tenors made after mid 1923 normally have a 23” scale. Just like Gibson. Before that, 19”–20.5” was normal depending on the pot and whatever Vega builders were doing that day.

That said, a 20 fret neck on an 11 13/16” (advertised as 12”) is normally a plectrum with a 28” advertised scale. Since you have that sized pot (30 brackets), that's what I expect you will find when you open the case. It looks right from the one picture you showed. The correct tenor neck should have 15 or 16 frets depending on the year, often with an extension over the pot bringing the total to 20 or 22 frets.

You won’t know until you get it and take accurate measurements. Vega used the Nominal scale length—inside of the nut to the 12th fret x2. Not all companies do including the Martin Guitar Co—still.
 

Everyone knows that a Vega plectrum/o5 string with a 10 15/16" pot has a 27" nominal scale, right? That does not explain the '20s Senator in my rack with a 26 3/4" scale so who knows?

Vegas made before 1915 or so had scales all over the map. There is much evidence that after David Day left in the 1920s, a lot of old parts came off the shelf and made it into plectrum banjos—quite possible that my Senator was made from an old neck blank since other Senators I have owned from the same period were 27".


 

Edited by - mikehalloran on 05/21/2024 09:16:19

May 21, 2024 - 9:59:27 AM
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13138 posts since 10/27/2006

quote:
Originally posted by frankabr.

Thanks, I am well aware of that and own and have owned many. The question is the scale and whether this fits in between both tenor, which usually is around 19-20 Inches and plectrum, which is around 25 inches? There is such a thing as a 'Tenor/Plectrum" that is in between. Bacon supposedly made them, with 20 frets also, and they could be used and tuned as either a tenor or a plectrum.


Vega nominal scales for plectrum were

22frets, 26" scale, 10 11/16" pot (catalog 10 3/4")

22frets, 27" scale 10 15/16" pot (catalog 11") 

20frets, 28" scale, 11 13/16" pot (catalog 12") which is what you bought. You guessed based on pictures and so did I but I have seen many over the decades. In addition, I have a few period cases and this is not a tenor banjo case.

I have never seen a 28" Vega neck where the scale actually measured 28". I've usually measured 27 1/2" to 27 3/4" on these. I will be really curious what the  actual scale is once you get it.

BTW, this would have had a 4-string NoKnot tailpiece when new. This Lyon & Healy Kershner was so popular an add-on that many assume they must have been original—I wouldn't touch it. Although there were some high end Vegas that did sport "Vega" engraved Kershners back in the day, this banjo was not one of them and that tailpiece likewise. 

Edited by - mikehalloran on 05/21/2024 10:10:02

May 21, 2024 - 3:08:55 PM

3352 posts since 3/30/2008

The Gibson PT was referenced in this post. What exactly was the scale of this instrument that made it a hybrid?

May 22, 2024 - 1:08:41 PM
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619 posts since 1/8/2005

Well I got it. It is a 1923vWhyte Laydie Plectrum. Scale is 27 inches. Pot with tension hoop is 11 and 13/16". Without tension hoop, pot is around 11 and 1/2 inches


May 22, 2024 - 1:46:20 PM

8287 posts since 9/21/2007

I hope you did better than $600.

May 22, 2024 - 3:23:46 PM

619 posts since 1/8/2005

$450

May 22, 2024 - 3:25:01 PM
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619 posts since 1/8/2005

quote:
Originally posted by frankabr.

Well I got it. It is a 1923 Whyte Laydie Plectrum. Scale is 27 inches. Pot with tension hoop is 11 and 13/16". Without tension hoop, pot is around 11 and 1/2 inches


May 22, 2024 - 4:10:21 PM

619 posts since 1/8/2005

This seems to be a rare banjo at any price, and the Whyte Laydie tone ring, coupled with the large pot, is one of the best for old time banjo.

May 28, 2024 - 11:11:12 PM
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1 posts since 6/5/2011

I paid $150 in paper route money for my 1922 Vegaphone Deluxe Plectrum banjo when I was 13. Even tho the fingerboard overlaps the rim by a couple frets, it has a 27" scale. My Vega Artist Professional Tenor banjo, vintage 1923, belonged to my Great Uncle Wayne, who played in big bands back in the 1920's. It has a 23" scale. Both are in pristine condition and sound great.  Hmm...I uploaded photos of them but don't seem to see them here.

Edited by - Bobby Banjo on 05/28/2024 23:16:57

May 29, 2024 - 6:27:09 AM
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4701 posts since 3/6/2006

quote:
Originally posted by frankabr.

Yes, but how common is a Vega 20 fret tenor?


A  20 fret, 4 string Vega is relatively rare, and I think they all came with the larger, 11 13/16" heads. I owned one back in the 70's, and as I recall you could tune it as either a tenor or a plectrum. Knowing what I know now, I would have kept it as such, but neophyte that I was 50 years ago, a had the fretboard replaced with one with 22 frets, which I discovered put the bridge too close to the tailpiece. Frustrated with my stupidity, I then mounted the neck to a 10 15/16" Tubaphone pot, and a 5 string neck to the 11 13/16" pot, and sold both.  Live and learn!

May 29, 2024 - 3:45:29 PM

hbick2

USA

743 posts since 6/26/2004

We typically describe plectrum banjos as a 5-string banjo with the 5th string removed. I believe yours is a standard Vega plectrum with the larger pot. Below is a photo of my Vega Tubaphone No. 9 5-string. It is about 500 serial numbers later than your banjo. It has an 11 13/16" pot, a 27 7/8" scale and 20 frets. It is essentially your banjo as a 5-string with some decoration added.


 

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