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1923 Vega No.2 Large Pot Plectrum Whyte Laydie Banjo. Rare?

May 22, 2024 - 1:27:33 PM
619 posts since 1/8/2005

Vega No.2 Whyte Laydie Large pot plectrum. I can't seem to find a picture of another. It has 20 frets. Pot, with hoop, is 11 and 13/16. Without hoop, around 11 and 1/2" Scale is 27 inches. Any comments appreciated


May 22, 2024 - 1:33:11 PM

8287 posts since 9/21/2007

So not 23 in scale?

May 22, 2024 - 1:53:01 PM

619 posts since 1/8/2005

Not 23" Turned out to be 27" The banjo was wrongly listed as being "manufactured in 1909." Size for the pot was also wrong. Seller said it was was an "estate sale find." I tried to figure out the scale from the pictures, but it turned out as guessed by others that I was wrong. Banjo Hangout is a great place with great people.

May 22, 2024 - 2:38:03 PM

15706 posts since 10/30/2008

I once had a 1916 Whyte Laydie #7 5-string with that huge head. Nice banjo. I think it had a 28" scale. Sounded REALLY good. Sold it to a guy who valued it MUCH more than I did.

May 22, 2024 - 4:46:37 PM

8287 posts since 9/21/2007

The “11 inch” head is not considered large or rare. The “12 in” is the large size, being measured edge to edge of the tone ring and not the stretcher hoop.

May 22, 2024 - 6:57:59 PM

csacwp

USA

3361 posts since 1/15/2014

This is the 12" version (Vega's 12" was actually 11 13/16"). It's a fairly rare banjo, but its value is limited by its being a plectrum.

May 22, 2024 - 7:08:49 PM

2038 posts since 1/13/2012

You need to measure the diameter of the tone ring, or the inside of the tension hoop, to come up with an accurate head measurement. I'm not totally sure of what dimensions you're quoting, but it sounds to me like it's an 11 1/2“ rim, which is a somewhat unusual size from Vega.

May 22, 2024 - 7:42:55 PM

244 posts since 8/31/2015

I've got one almost identical to that but I think it's a 1921. I have a 5 string conversion neck on it, but also have the original long plectrum neck. That banjo is back in the states so I can't take measurements or check SN but I remember the plectrum scale being very long, around 27".

Sometimes I like to play that banjo plectrum style (with the 5 string neck)- those large pot WL's sound great for that style. Deep and punchy but somehow still bright. Hard to describe. It's really an incredibly versatile banjo, it's my #1 for pretty much all styles.

I remember the rim being 11 & 15/16" but this is probably my memory failing me, the experts are saying 11 & 13/16"
EDIT: I posted the only pic I have of it. I know it's not a great angle and doesn't help much but there it is! smiley
-TD

 

Edited by - TreyDBanjoKS on 05/22/2024 19:47:41

May 22, 2024 - 7:49:05 PM

csacwp

USA

3361 posts since 1/15/2014

quote:
Originally posted by Andy FitzGibbon

You need to measure the diameter of the tone ring, or the inside of the tension hoop, to come up with an accurate head measurement. I'm not totally sure of what dimensions you're quoting, but it sounds to me like it's an 11 1/2“ rim, which is a somewhat unusual size from Vega.


I just reread the original post, and Andy is right: it sounds like you have an 11.5" rim, which is a rare but not unheard of size. My comment about the plectrum neck stands. 

May 23, 2024 - 2:11:35 AM

Bill H

USA

2301 posts since 11/7/2010

I have an 11 1/2" Tubaphone pot found on Eby many years ago that I built a 5 string neck for. It is a wonderful banjo with a full bright sound.

May 23, 2024 - 4:48:44 AM

2348 posts since 5/19/2018

I have two, an original 5 string #2, and a short scale tenor #2. Both incredible instruments.

Unless my memory is getting the better of me, I always thought those large pot, 1920’s Whyte Laydie banjos where 11 15/16” pots.

May 23, 2024 - 6:39:49 AM

2038 posts since 1/13/2012

quote:
Originally posted by Alvin Conder

I have two, an original 5 string #2, and a short scale tenor #2. Both incredible instruments.

Unless my memory is getting the better of me, I always thought those large pot, 1920’s Whyte Laydie banjos where 11 15/16” pots.


The "standard" Vega sizes are 10 3/4“, 10 15/16“, and 11 13/16“. There was some variation throughout the years. 

May 25, 2024 - 9:33:29 AM

13138 posts since 10/27/2006

quote:
Originally posted by Andy FitzGibbon

You need to measure the diameter of the tone ring, or the inside of the tension hoop, to come up with an accurate head measurement. I'm not totally sure of what dimensions you're quoting, but it sounds to me like it's an 11 1/2“ rim, which is a somewhat unusual size from Vega.


I have never seen the 11 1/2" pot with 30 brackets. Always 11 13/16"

May 25, 2024 - 10:08:33 AM

13138 posts since 10/27/2006

quote:
Originally posted by frankabr.

Not 23" Turned out to be 27" The banjo was wrongly listed as being "manufactured in 1909." Size for the pot was also wrong. Seller said it was was an "estate sale find." I tried to figure out the scale from the pictures, but it turned out as guessed by others that I was wrong. Banjo Hangout is a great place with great people.


You're welcome.

This was known in the catalogs as the Professional Artist size. The advertised scale was 28". I've never measured one at the full length but this is the first I've hear of this short. To be clear, you are measuring from the inside of the nut to the middle of the 12th fret x2.  A Professional (27") scale fretboard could be fitted by removing the last two frets. Vega was still carving necks by hand so anything was possible to accommodate parts on the shelves.

Rare? Hard to tell. So many have been converted to 5-strings with 26" and 26 1/4 necks that one can't even guess (look for the 30 brackets). I do see these at guitar shows and the like but Tubaphones are more common. One notorious reseller likes to put these necks on 11" and 10 3/4" pots and call them "original" — the scale puts the bridges much closer to the tailpiece than can possibly sound good.

This is made even more difficult by the number of non-standard Vega plectrums in the '20s that don't match any particular catalog spec. exactly. Vegaphones with NO 3 mahogany necks instead of maple are quite common, 26" Electrics with grooved stretchers and 26 brackets instead 28 on a notched bands, the rare  28 bracket, 11 1/2" pot that was likely made before 1912 and so on. Based on what I see, it's possible that fewer plectrums were made to spec in the '20s than not. By the 1930s, this seems to have cleared up.

Edited by - mikehalloran on 05/25/2024 10:11:00

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