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Thread: Vega mando type model publication?

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    Default Vega mando type model publication?

    I was curious if there is a single publication that would describe in detail the various mandolin, mandola, mandocello and mandobass models produced by Vega in the 1910's and 1920's? There is of course Vega banjo information to be found but I am having trouble with the mando line.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Vega mando type model publication?

    This site might help you as he has worked on a fair few Vega mandolins and gives a good insight into them through his repair work. However, the rarer more exotic instrument types you mention do not figure as I assume they are fairly rare.

    https://jakewildwood.blogspot.com/p/museum-vega.html

  3. #3
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vega mando type model publication?

    In the 1910, most of the models were bowlbacks. By 1920, Vega made cylinderback and flatback mandolin family instruments. AFAIK no one book or publication details all the models. Paul Ruppa of the Milwaukee Mandolin Orchestra is an expert on Vega instruments and did a recording a few years ago of an ensemble of all Vega instruments, mostly cylinder back, I believe (not sure about the bass). I am honored to have lent him then sold him my Vega cylinder guitar for that recording.

    In addition to the mandolin, mandola, mandocello and mandobass, there were two 10 string models one with a shorter mandolin scale and one with a longer mandola scale. (See below). In addition, Vega also made a tenor lute. (Also see below).

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    Jim

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    Default Re: Vega mando type model publication?

    Bernunzio Uptown Music sells a reprint of a Vega cylinder back mandolin catalog.
    Here's a rundown of the basic mandolin models:

    Model 202-- Mahogany back and sides, plain appointments
    Model 203-- Maple or rosewood back and sides, plain appointments
    Model 205-- Maple or rosewood back and sides, rope pattern purfling around the top, abalone soundhole ring, pickguard with fancy inlay
    Model 207-- Maple back and sides, abalone top border and soundhole ring, pickguard with fancy inlay.

    Surviving cylinder back mandolins with rosewood back and sides are quite rare.
    Most models were also available as mandolas.
    Also available in a more limited range of models were mandocellos, tenor lutes, 10 string "mandolin-mandolas," and 10 string "mandola-mandolins."

    As far as the 10 string models, the "mandola-mandolin" models were built on a mandolin body and the "mandolin-mandola" models were built on a mandola body. Talk about confusing terminology. Thanks to Jim's post of the catalog page to remind me which body went with which name.

    I have personally seen three 10 strings. Two were in mahogany and one was in rosewood. All three of them were built on mandola bodies.

    I've also encountered three cylinder top 6 string guitars, including one I wish I had bought. Yes, I said cylinder top. They are very rare. I have not seen or heard of one in the last 20 years. I see that there is an article on one on Jake Wildwood's website.

    And I have seen one cylinder back mandolin on a plain teardrop body without the points. I call it a model 201.

    BTW, Vega used the name "lute mandolin" instead of the term "cylinder back." I'll add that I have yet to encounter a cylinder back instrument that has survived in good condition that was not a good instrument.
    Last edited by rcc56; Aug-25-2021 at 4:31pm.

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vega mando type model publication?

    As mentioned above I owned a Vega cylinder top and back guitar and the construction was very similar to the Howe-Orme instruments which makes me think that the was some connection since Howe was located in Boston area along with Vega. The main difference in the guitars was that the H-Os had a neck adjuster sort of similar to the later KayKraft ones with a cam IIRC.

    The OP asked for one source of all models of Vega mandolin family instruments but I really don't think it exists until someone publishes a book about the brand. Maybe it is in the works. I do have a copy of circa 1910 Vega catalog showing the bowlbacks. I think they may show the mandola models but not larger instruments. I am not sure if the Vega catalog for cylinder lute mandolins show the larger instruments either. I have a repro one, also.
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    Default Re: Vega mando type model publication?

    Thanks for all the great information! I went ahead and ordered a copy of the Vega catalog from Bernunzio Uptown Music. Your sharing of information and experience is greatly appreciated.

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    Pataphysician Joe Bartl's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vega mando type model publication?

    Thanks to rcc56! I, too ordered a copy of the catalog from Bernunzio's and was sorry to hear that mine was the last copy they had. I am very grateful to have this as it will be solid documentation for my cylinder-back mandolin, mandola, mandocello, and my Vega bowlback. The one thing, lacking, of course, is the ability to accurately date the instruments. Do you think Paul Ruppa might have a way of dating Vegas?

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vega mando type model publication?

    Paul had a lost of serial numbers and approximate years. I assume he updated that more recently.
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    Registered User John Bertotti's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vega mando type model publication?

    Jim, I still have the Vega bowlback you sold me, plain but with a very sweet voice.
    My avatar is of my OldWave Oval A

    Creativity is just doing something wierd and finding out others like it.

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    Default Re: Vega mando type model publication?

    Quote Originally Posted by Hearth_man View Post
    I was curious if there is a single publication that would describe in detail the various mandolin, mandola, mandocello and mandobass models produced by Vega in the 1910's and 1920's? There is of course Vega banjo information to be found but I am having trouble with the mando line.
    The two catalogs mentioned both have a lot of good info, but they don't cover everything Vega. Neither the bowlback nor the CB Vega catalog has a reference to the Vega mando-bass. There were two Vega mando-bass models, a 2-pt CB and a 2-pt flat back. The CB is the older (more elegant) design.

    Here's a serial number list that I use:
    Vega Serial Numbers

    http://www.whitetreeaz.com/vintage/banjomfg.htm

    17021...........................17963............. ..1898
    18026...........................18939............. ..1899
    19124...........................19993............. ..1900
    20107...........................20957............. ..1901
    21237...........................21961............. ..1902
    22002...........................22897............. ..1903
    23071...........................23203............. ..1904
    23255...........................23548............. ..1905
    23560...........................23969............. ..1906
    24092...........................24195............. ..1907
    24337...........................24973............. ..1908
    25083...........................25986............. ..1909
    26023...........................26999............. ..1910
    27027...........................27991............. ..1911
    28062...........................28930............. ..1912
    29029...........................29993............. ..1913
    30492...........................30891............. ..1914
    31462...........................31711............. ..1915
    32290...........................32850............. ..1916
    33282...........................33822............. ..1917
    34273...........................34759............. ..1918
    35017...........................37162............. ..1919
    37829...........................39942............. ..1920
    40071...........................45235............. ..1921
    45608...........................50773............. ..1922
    51279...........................56313............. ..1923
    56656...........................62248............. ..1924
    62419...........................67436............. ..1925
    67518...........................72204............. ..1926
    73075...........................78371............. ..1927
    79025...........................83827............. ..1928
    84124...........................87896............. ..1929
    89729...........................94716............. ..1930
    95374...........................97962............. ..1931
    98314...........................98149............. ..1932


    Here's a look at some of the variety in the Vega designs. They made C-mandolas with 14", 15" and 17" scale lengths. I know the 4-string Vega tenor lute that is tuned an octave lower that a mandolin, but I've never seen a Vega G-mandola (octave mandolin).The photo montage of the Vega mandolin is one of several photo arrays I've been assembling for a future online Vega archive.

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  14. #11
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vega mando type model publication?

    Paul: that whitetreeaz link is dead. Good you posted the SN list,
    Jim

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    mando-evangelist August Watters's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vega mando type model publication?

    I seem to have found a more complete version of the Vega numbers, by searching the Internet Archive. It includes Paul Ruppa's numbers above (post #10), but also both earlier and later numbers, as well as more Vega history. We should note that the working assumption here is that the Vega mandolin serial numbers are presumed to be the same as the Vega banjo serial numbers, which is what was actually being archived here. AFAIK, Vega seems to have used the same series of numbers, regardless of instrument type, chronologically from the beginning.

    __________

    Vega Serial Numbers
    from internet archive, version April 18, 2016

    FOLLOWING INFORMATION IS FROM INTERNET ARCHIVE. It came from an archived version of the whitetreeaz.com site:

    https://web.archive.org/web/20160418...jomfg.htm#VEGA



    Earliest Known Serial Number....Latest Known Number......Year

    243............................................... .1875-1880
    1741............................1988.............. .1891
    2246............................2857.............. .1892
    3707............................8662.............. .1893
    (note: few 4000 thru 8000 numbers were used)
    (note: few 10,000 thru 14,000 numbers were used)
    9366............................9920.............. .1894
    14000...........................14909............. .1895
    15021...........................15843............. .1896
    16029...........................16995............. .1897

    FAIRBANKS & COLE BANJOS

    77..............................691............... ..1880
    983.............................1868.............. ..1881
    1920............................2666.............. ..1882
    2854............................3647.............. ..1883
    4022............................4698.............. ..1884
    4753............................5503.............. ..1885
    5735............................6468.............. ..1886
    6760............................7317.............. ..1887
    7849............................8460.............. ..1888
    9041............................9221.............. ..1889

    A.C. FAIRBANKS/VEGA BANJOS

    67..............................992............... ..1890
    1464............................1638.............. ..1891
    .................................................. ..1892
    .................................................. ..1893
    ....(No information available)......................1894
    .................................................. ..1895
    .................................................. ..1896
    16971.............................?............... ..1897
    17021...........................17963............. ..1898
    18026...........................18939............. ..1899
    19124...........................19993............. ..1900
    20107...........................20957............. ..1901
    21237...........................21961............. ..1902
    22002...........................22897............. ..1903
    23071...........................23203............. ..1904
    23255...........................23548............. ..1905
    23560...........................23969............. ..1906
    24092...........................24195............. ..1907
    24337...........................24973............. ..1908
    25083...........................25986............. ..1909
    26023...........................26999............. ..1910
    27027...........................27991............. ..1911
    28062...........................28930............. ..1912
    29029...........................29993............. ..1913
    30492...........................30891............. ..1914
    31462...........................31711............. ..1915
    32290...........................32850............. ..1916
    33282...........................33822............. ..1917
    34273...........................34759............. ..1918
    35017...........................37162............. ..1919
    37829...........................39942............. ..1920
    40071...........................45235............. ..1921
    45608...........................50773............. ..1922
    51279...........................56313............. ..1923
    56656...........................62248............. ..1924
    62419...........................67436............. ..1925
    67518...........................72204............. ..1926
    73075...........................78371............. ..1927
    79025...........................83827............. ..1928
    84124...........................87896............. ..1929
    89729...........................94716............. ..1930
    95374...........................97962............. ..1931
    98314...........................98149............. ..1932

    From 1933 we have a full sequence of numbers, and thus can date with certainty:


    Starting Serial Number#........................#Year

    98150...........................1933
    98185...........................1934
    98220...........................1935
    98225...........................1936
    98290...........................1937
    98325...........................1938
    98360...........................1939
    98395...........................1940
    98430...........................1941
    98465...........................1942
    98500...........................1943
    98535...........................1944
    98570...........................1945
    98605...........................1946
    98640...........................1947
    98675...........................1948
    98710...........................1949
    98745...........................1950
    98780...........................1951
    98820...........................1952
    98896...........................1953
    98990...........................1954
    99067...........................1955
    99213...........................1956
    99428...........................1957
    99582...........................1958
    99717...........................1959
    100022..........................1960
    100560..........................1961
    101999..........................1962

    These are the famous printer's error yellow labels, used from October of 1962 to February of 1964:


    10300...........................1962
    10522...........................1963
    12130...........................1964


    A new series of numbers was begun in February of 1964.


    124001..........................1964
    125641..........................1965
    126772..........................1966
    127682..........................1967
    128565..........................1968
    129120..........................1969

    On 05/17/70, Vega was sold to the C.F. Martin Co. These banjos may have the Martin logo on the -back- of the peg-head, with the Vega logo on the face.


    129683..........................1970
    130049..........................1971

    A new series of numbers was adopted after 1971:


    M1..............................1972

    The name was then sold to Global Trading, of S. Korea. No serial number information is available after 1972 at this time. Deering banjos recently purchased the name, and is currently making reproduction models of the Pete Seeger Tube-a-phone long-neck.
    Exploring Classical Mandolin (Berklee Press, 2015)
    Progressive Melodies for Mandocello (Amazon, 2019)
    New Solos for Classical Mandolin (Hal Leonard Press, 2020)

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