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Thread: Vega Cylinderback Plectrum

  1. #1
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Vega Cylinderback Plectrum

    I swear I thought this was a photoshop joke. Vega Cylinderback Plectrum.

    On the Gryphon Strings web site, they explained:

    This year Gryphon is celebrating its 49th Birthday. And what better way to celebrate than by cleaning out our attic. Over the decades we have accumulated an impressive collection of instruments that we purchased with the intention of fixing up to sell. The idea was that when the flow of customer’s repairs slowed down we’d always have something to keep ourselves occupied. Well, the flow has never stopped and some of these instruments have been up there for decades. It’s time to face the fact that if something has been sitting there for ten or twenty years, we are not likely to ever get around to it. So, we decided to start listing them on eBay. We’re going to try and list a few new items every week, so keep checking back. If you’re local we will be happy to let you look at the items we have listed but we aren’t able to give you a preview of what’s coming up because we don’t know what those items are yet.
    Here is the description on eBay:

    Is this a Vega cylinder-back plectrum or a long-neck Vega 4-string mando-cello? What's in a name anyway? (Just joking, please don't lecture us on the official name). Dating this Vega is approximate, but the interior patent stamp states "Nov. 4, 1913" and the serial number 37789 is stamped on upper edge of headstock. The original paper label on inside back is complete. This came to us from a local family several years ago exactly as you see it here (Gryphon just doesn't have time to repair the cracks). The original owner, who was Italian, played both banjo and mandolin and it seems this was a good compromise of both.

    This rare Vega has seen quite a lot of use and also wasn't handled very carefully, but it's still quite functional as it is. We'll describe its issues so you can decide what you want to fix but you really don't have to do anything to play it. It appears to be all original with the possible exception of the bridge and tailpiece (which is also missing its cover). Original nut, inlaid pickguard, finish and Grover tuners. All interior bracing is intact with nothing damaged or missing and the only repair is a funky interior block to reinforce the cracks to the treble side (see photo). Neck is quite straight on the treble side with only slight relief on the bass side (strung with plectrum banjo strings and tuned to pitch).

    The photos are part of the description! If you only view this listing on your phone you may not spot some of the finish issues so please, take the time to view our photos on a decent-sized display.

    The body is 12 1/2 inches wide and 17 inches long, string scale is 27 inches, the Vega standard. The top is in great condition with no warp or distortion but note the 6 1/2 inch (unrepaired) crack on the bass side. The back has no cracks but there are signs of very minor crunching along one edge as the sides apparently took a few hits. The treble side just shows finish damage, but bass (upper) side has multiple cracks, two 1/8" holes, and about ten little holes that make no sense at all. Note small holes in the neck heel and back of the headstock, plus the big chip at the tip of headstock. The white paint spatters on the face of the headstock and on the spruce top do NOT wipe off with mild cleanser.

    Comes with a lightweight gig bag that does the job but is an imperfect fit for obvious reasons.
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    Jim

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  3. #2
    Confused... or?
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    Default Re: Vega Cylinderback Plectrum

    What paint spatter on the headstock? Those are Vega's background stars and constellations!
    - Ed

    "What our group lacks in musicianship is offset by our willingness to humiliate ourselves." - David Hochman

  4. #3
    Registered User Tavy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vega Cylinderback Plectrum

    So.... a tiny body and a crazy long neck... not sure what on earth you would do with it (or how to tune it!) but it sure is a cool piece of history. Will you be bidding?

  5. #4
    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Vega Cylinderback Plectrum

    You would tune it like a plectrum banjo and play Dixieland jazz on it.
    Last edited by Charles E.; Dec-03-2018 at 3:03pm.
    Charley

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

  6. #5
    Orrig Onion HonketyHank's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vega Cylinderback Plectrum

    I was interested in this but it looks like there are others willing to pay serious money for it. Would be a neat thing to plunk around with from time to time. Sorta like the way I reach for my $50 waldzither when the odd mood overtakes me. I would probably tune it like CGBD and chord the heck out of it.
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  7. #6

    Default Re: Vega Cylinderback Plectrum

    Thanks for posting. It is a very odd combination, but somewhere there is a completist with all the C-B models but this one... (including guitars and Cylinder-Tops there must be 20 or more variants)

    I shot a message to Noam Pickelny, the only musician I could think of who would make this thing sing. I'm sure there are others... I just haven't met them.
    BradKlein
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  8. #7
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    Default Re: Vega Cylinderback Plectrum

    Eligible for the Gibson Weirdness Award.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Please don't tell me it's not a Gibson.

    Thanks.

  9. #8
    Registered User nmiller's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vega Cylinderback Plectrum

    I have the tenor version. It's a loud and full, a world away from Gibson's anemic Tenor Lute models. The plectrum version is quite a bit rarer, but it was mentioned in a Vega brochure.

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    www.OldFrets.com: the obscure side of vintage instruments.

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    Full Grown and Cussin' brunello97's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vega Cylinderback Plectrum

    Thanks, Jim. I thought Michigan Prop 1 had gotten the better of my eyesight.

    I love how, even on this giraffe, Vega relentlessly located the bridge below the top cant.

    Muy cooliso. I wish there was something in the photo to give some sense of scale.

    Mick
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  13. #10
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vega Cylinderback Plectrum

    Quote Originally Posted by Tavy View Post
    Will you be bidding?
    No, John, it is all yours!

    Quote Originally Posted by BradKlein View Post
    I shot a message to Noam Pickelny, the only musician I could think of who would make this thing sing. I'm sure there are others... I just haven't met them.
    Yes, I would love to hear Noam play on that, tho I do seem to recall he has a modern plectrum guitar that he makes sing nicely.

    Quote Originally Posted by nmiller View Post
    I have the tenor version. It's a loud and full, a world away from Gibson's anemic Tenor Lute models. The plectrum version is quite a bit rarer, but it was mentioned in a Vega brochure.

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    Noah: do you have a date for that brochure page?
    Jim

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  14. #11
    Registered User nmiller's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vega Cylinderback Plectrum

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    Noah: do you have a date for that brochure page?
    Not that particular brochure. However, I do have an article from March of 1926 announcing the debut of Vega's tenor lute:
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    They were also listed in the 1928 catalog:
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    Neither mentions the plectrum version, but I think it's safe to assume that it was contemporary with the tenor. I also have a 1931-2 Vega guitar/mandolin/banjo catalog that shows the tenor guitar but not the tenor lute, so it may have been discontinued by then.

    In other words, the brochure was probably printed between 1926 and 1931.
    www.OldFrets.com: the obscure side of vintage instruments.

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    Default Re: Vega Cylinderback Plectrum

    Quote Originally Posted by brunello97 View Post
    I wish there was something in the photo to give some sense of scale.

    Mick
    You mean size? The post says the scale length is 27 inch....

  17. #13

    Default Re: Vega Cylinderback Plectrum

    Currently at $530, ends in 5 hours. NFI

  18. #14
    Registered User LongBlackVeil's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vega Cylinderback Plectrum

    This thing is about to go shooting up in price isnt it?
    "When you learn an old time fiddle tune, you make a friend for life"

  19. #15

    Default Re: Vega Cylinderback Plectrum

    $940 including $75 shipping
    BradKlein
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  20. #16
    Registered User LongBlackVeil's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vega Cylinderback Plectrum

    Thats a heckuva deal id say. Wish i had the money to get in on that myself
    "When you learn an old time fiddle tune, you make a friend for life"

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