Vega Style N

  1. Eddie Sheehy
    I just acquired a vega Style N 17 fret banjo. It has friction tuners and a no-knot tailpiece - originals. I'm going to replace the tuners and the tailpiece. Any suggestions on good replacements? Also, it's tuned CGDA and I want to tune it GDAE, any suggestions for string-gauges?
  2. Jill McAuley
    Jill McAuley
    For tuners I'd go for the small post planetary tuners that Bob Smakula sells on his website - I've got them on both my Triple X and my Vega Style M and they're the business. On my Style M I'm using 40w/30w/20w/13 plain - I get the John Pearse "Irish Tenor Banjo - Heavy gauge" set that Elderly sells and really like them.
  3. citrina86
    I'll second Jill's recommendation about the small shaft "planets". However, I don't care for the new design with the hex nuts. Another appropriate alternative are Stewart-MacDonald's 5-star tuners. I think they work a little smoother and they look more like the original Planets, but they have the disadvantage of requiring 3/8" holes. But you'll have to ream the holes a little bit for the small shaft tuners anyway, and although you might be able to make the original friction tuners work if you want to replace them, the fit won't be great. Any modification will mean it is no longer "original", and frankly at that point it is unlikely you'll ever want go back to them. So those are the issues I'd consider as far as the tradeoffs. For string gauges I've found that I get a better balance of the string tension with 11.5/12 20 30 42 on my short-scale Vegas. [You didn't mention the size of the pot, and the scale length differs according to the pot diameter.] It's all a matter of individual preference, of course. I find that I like heavier strings if I am playing in a loud session than when I am practicing at home, for example. The response of the strings will depend on how heavy you play and even on they type of pick you use, but no matter how heavy or light, I like to find gauges that provide about equal tension on each string. And you might also want to experiment with nickel vs. Phosphor Bronze strings. For years I've preferred nickel although I use both. The nickels obviously are brighter, but they also seem to last a lot longer. And that decision will also depend on the kind of head you are using and how often you change them. Dead phosphor bronze strings sound awful, particularly on a banjo with a skin head, in my opinion, but then again some people like that "thuddy" sound. In order to experiment with different gauges I always buy my strings as singles through First Quality or Elderly. Anyway, just my two-cents.
  4. Shelagh Moore
    Shelagh Moore
    I found a good working set of original Planets for my 1922 17-fret Style R (I wanted to restore as far as possible to near original condition) and these lead to a more satisfying (less frustrating) playing experience than the friction pegs (although they worked OK). I have the 10 3/4" pot version with a Fiberskyn 3 head replacing the Rodgers skin head. I'm using 11, 20, 30, 42 nickels at the moment (the 11 gave a better sound than a 12). I'll post a picture up soon as mine has an unusual and interesting variant of the spin-on pieplate resonator
  5. Topher Gayle
    Topher Gayle
    I put 5-star tuners on my Style N and am very happy with them. I retain the calfskin head, since I like that sound. I would like to replace the four mismatched hooks to look like the originals but have not found any available. Anybody know of sources for them?

    I also have a Style M Tu-Ba-Phone with a 12" pot. I keep it tuned to Irish Tenor. The person who sold it to me had already put planetary style tuners on. I was happy about that.
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