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Thread: Vega tenor lute with 6 strings

  1. #1
    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Vega tenor lute with 6 strings

    Seller thinks it's a mandocello, but it ain't. Only 6 tuners!

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/1913-Vega-C...%257Ciid%253A1

    Vega made a 4-string tenor lute, but I didn't know there was a 6-string version. I've heard of tenors with doubled upper courses, but judging from the nut, this one was meant to have doubled lower courses. One could always replace the nut, or play it as a 4-string, the way it's set up now.

    The 4-string version had a banjo-style headstock; here are two of them in action:

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  3. #2
    Registered User nmiller's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vega tenor lute with 6 strings

    The one Vega catalog I have showing the tenor lute doesn't mention a 6-string, but Vega were never averse to custom orders. My 4-string is a superb instrument, with a sound (as you'd expect) somewhere in between a tenor guitar and a mandolin.

    Paramount made at least a couple of 6-string tenor harps, so there is some precedent, but those had the upper two courses doubled.
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    Registered User Timbofood's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vega tenor lute with 6 strings

    Don’t know about the four vs. six debate but, shoot, the case is pretty high in the cool column!
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    Default Re: Vega tenor lute with 6 strings

    Eight strings on tailpiece ?

  6. #5

    Default Re: Vega tenor lute with 6 strings

    Also, note that this is a flat-top instrument. I believe that Vega's CB mandocellos had a canted-top.

    I would normally expect that this instrument had been altered from factory spec.. but don't see any obvious signs...

    This catalog page, found online, is said to be from 1928:
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    Last edited by BradKlein; Oct-30-2017 at 2:39pm.
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    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vega tenor lute with 6 strings

    I wonder if the six-string model is the "Artists' Special" listed in the catalog, at $90 instead of $60?
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  9. #7
    Registered User nmiller's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vega tenor lute with 6 strings

    An 8-string tailpiece was standard on these.

    I believe the "Artists' Special" is this 4-string version with fancier trim.

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  11. #8
    Registered User nmiller's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vega tenor lute with 6 strings

    Aww, darnit - I took my lute out of the case to verify the tailpiece type, and found some papers I forgot all about:

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    "with octave 3rd and 4th" for an extra $20.
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  13. #9

    Default Re: Vega tenor lute with 6 strings

    Nice work Noah Miller. So the 6-string tenor lute was not a special order, and this was the 'plainer' of the two grades offered. Here's a photo from eBay for posterity.

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vega tenor lute with 6 strings

    Quote Originally Posted by BradKlein View Post
    Also, note that this is a flat-top instrument. I believe that Vega's CB mandocellos had a canted-top.
    It is hard to tell but in this photo is almost looks like the top has sunk. Doesn't seem that way in the other photo here.

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  15. #11
    Registered User nmiller's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vega tenor lute with 6 strings

    I just realized... this is a plectrum instrument! My tenor has the neck joint between the 13th and 14th frets; this one has it at about the 17th fret. It also looks like a longer neck in proportion to the body.

    4-string tenor lutes are thin on the ground, but a 6-string plectrum lute is truly a hen's tooth.
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    Default Re: Vega tenor lute with 6 strings

    I have had a tenor (plectrum) lute for years and always thought of it as a kind of odd hybrid, part banjo part octave mandola. This 6-string is a great surprise.

    My first thought was that it was the proto-type for a Vega guitar. The catalog page got me back on the true path. Brad: The Vega mando-cello does not have a flat top. There is a cant and usually an unfortunate dishing behind the bridge. Paul R


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    Last edited by Dr. P; Oct-31-2017 at 11:11am.

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  18. #13

    Default Re: Vega tenor lute with 6 strings

    This is my Vega Tenor Lute...
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    Registered User jdchapman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vega tenor lute with 6 strings

    I want to be in that band.

  20. #15

    Default Re: Vega tenor lute with 6 strings

    Here's the rest of the band...
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    Default Re: Vega tenor lute with 6 strings

    For fans of antique Vega mandolin-family instruments, the Wisconsin•Vega Project is ongoing. There are some samples of the Vega sound on https://soundcloud.com/user-708668523. The Vega Mandolin-Family Reunion Orchestra (Vimfro) is heading to the recording studio for the first time on 11 November 2017. The New Vintage Frets have a facebook page. Paul R

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  24. #17

    Default Re: Vega tenor lute with 6 strings

    Some of the posters to this thread must be among the very few who can compare the sound of the Vega CB tenor lute to the Vega CB mandocello.

    I imagine that the cant top of the 'cello would give the instruments a more 'powerful' single note sound, whereas the flat-top of the lute, even with the doubled low strings, might make for a more strum-able chorded instrument with more sustain, and less 'punch' to the notes.

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    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vega tenor lute with 6 strings

    It's back!
    https://www.ebay.com/itm/1920-Vega-C...8AAOSwHNxaGEIe

    I wouldn't know what to do with plectrum tuning or a 27" scale. I'd capo it down to 23" and play it in fifths.

    Is there such a thing as a "second nut" that fits over a fret and under the strings?
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  26. #19
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    Default Re: Vega tenor lute with 6 strings

    Any attempt to install a functional "second nut" would result in high action in the lower positions and intonation problems.

    The correct height for string slots in a nut is equal to or very slightly higher than the height of the frets. The geometry just wouldn't work out-- the string slots would have to be very high to avoid the "sitar effect."

    Your best "second nut" would be a capo.

  27. #20

    Default Re: Vega tenor lute with 6 strings

    Quote Originally Posted by Dacraw54 View Post
    Here's the rest of the band...
    the five course mandola is super cool, nice collection

  28. #21
    Registered User thecelloronin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vega tenor lute with 6 strings

    FWIW, this ebay auction is clearly for a mandocello that has been converted. Its nut and tailpiece still have 4 courses, while the headstock is refitted to accommodate 6 strings. You can see where the 4-in-a-row tuners used to be.

  29. #22

    Default Re: Vega tenor lute with 6 strings

    Quote Originally Posted by thecelloronin View Post
    FWIW, this ebay auction is clearly for a mandocello that has been converted. Its nut and tailpiece still have 4 courses, while the headstock is refitted to accommodate 6 strings. You can see where the 4-in-a-row tuners used to be.
    I don’t think that is right. Read over the thread closely and examine the photos. This appears to have been a stock instrument.
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  30. #23
    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vega tenor lute with 6 strings

    There are some dark spots on the front of the headstock. However, there are twelve such dark spots, not eight ... there's one on each side of each tuner post. These are just discolorations of some kind, not plugged holes. The nut is clearly slotted for six strings (2 pairs and 2 singles), not eight. As for the tailpiece, it doesn't prove anything. A standard Gibson mandolin tailpiece has enough hooks in it for 12 strings, but that doesn't mean Gibson mandolins are meant to have 12 strings.

    Furthermore, the scale length, nut width, neck thickness and flat top are wrong for a mandocello. It's clearly a 6-string plectrum lute.
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  31. #24
    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vega tenor lute with 6 strings

    [duplicate]
    Emando.com: More than you wanted to know about electric mandolins.

    Notorious: My Celtic CD--listen & buy!

    Donaldson Wood Thormahlen Andersen Old Wave Bacorn Yanuziello Fender National Gibson Franke Fuchs Aceto Three Hungry Pit Bulls

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