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Thread: Vega Mando Banjolele

  1. #1

    Default Vega Mando Banjolele

    Hi guys,

    Can anyone point me in the right direction for finding any info - old catalogs or articles - on Vega mando banjo ukes?

    I can post pics later if anyone is interested, but all the component parts look bog standard; I just haven't seen this combination anywhere online:

    1918 build by current lookup (39xxx), on pot & ferrule.
    Mando neck, solid head with open book top, braz rosewood veneer, no inlay.
    13.25" scale, 17 fret Ebony FB, single dots on 5, 7, 10 & 12.
    Basic tuners, 4 on a side, straight edges, no frills, no engraving.
    Uke size pot, 7.5", "tortoise" binding on rim.
    Original head, I think, top very grimy, OK inside, goat or calf?
    Ferrule has standard Fairbanks / Vega logo, and Style K.
    Unbranded wooden resonator held on back by 4 L brackets from 4 of the hooks.
    Trapdoor case.

    I haven't found this combination of Vega with mando neck and banjo uke body online, but the sound with the resonator off is great for celtic and the small body makes it feel much more like a "standard" mando, for me far more comfortable than the more usual 10" mandolin banjos.

    Any background greatly appreciated!

  2. #2
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vega Mando Banjolele

    Here's a fairly old thread on Vega Style K's.

    Style K was a basic-level Vega instrument, no tone ring. It's not a "banjolele," if it's set up for eight strings; it's a mandolin banjo. On the other hand, a 7.5 inch diameter would be much less than the 10 inches most Style K's were, so you may be on to something if it's some sort of hybrid. Perhaps a previous owner melded two instruments together. Style K's didn't come with resonators, as a rule.

    Here's an archived Banjo Hangout thread discussing an instrument that sounds like what you have.
    Allen Hopkins
    Gibsn: '54 F5 3pt F2 A-N Custm K1 m'cello
    Natl Triolian Dobro mando
    Victoria b-back Merrill alumnm b-back
    H-O mandolinetto
    Stradolin Vega banjolin
    Sobell'dola Washburn b-back'dola
    Eastmn: 615'dola 805 m'cello
    Flatiron 3K OM

  3. #3

    Default Re: Vega Mando Banjolele

    Thanks so much Allen,

    The thread you linked shows an identical instrument from the nut down - same neck, 7.5" pot and "Style K" on the dowel. The pot and dowel have matching serial numbers.

    The hooks are identical, but on 4 of them the nut also has a small after market L-shaped brass foot bolted on, into which the additional unbranded resonator can be screwed.

    The neck is the same except from the neck up - it has the standard Vega mando head as manufactured.

    Would love to find some literature on it!

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  5. #4
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    Default Re: Vega Mando Banjolele

    I use tenor banjo stings on these, 10-28. I buy two sets. It will sound better and put much less stress on the instrument. It is first a banjo and second a mandolin.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

  6. #5

    Default Re: Vega Mando Banjolele

    That's good info, thanks. I usually go a little lighter on the top for my mandos, 09, but the skinny bottom for the banjo (28 vs 34) makes sense.

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