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Thread: Vega roundback mandolins

  1. #51
    Registered User Marc Woodward's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vega roundback mandolins

    Jim, instead of compensating the saddle could you not use a wound second string? I understand that the serious Embergher devotees use a straight bridge and strings designed this way which don't need a compensated bridge. I guess Richard would know better than me on this point.... just a thought,
    Marc

  2. #52
    Registered User Marc Woodward's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vega roundback mandolins

    Incidentally it looks like the style 3 is a more high end instrument than the Lansing Special. Certainly more ribs!
    Marc

  3. #53
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vega roundback mandolins

    Hi Marc... Actually I know a few of the most serious Embergher devotees and AFAIK they prefer compensated saddles on their 5 bis's. The compensation is a lot subtler than on, say, Gibson instruments, but it is compensated nonetheless. I suppose wound A strings might work but I think those that need better intonation might prefer working the bridge.
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  4. #54

    Default Re: Vega roundback mandolins

    Quote Originally Posted by brunello97 View Post
    Richard, that is a strong position statement, and given your experience with Dan Larsen, certainly to be taken seriously. Since this thread is expanding into a more thorough discussion of Vega bowlbacks, could you elaborate more on this? What does separate a Pettine from a Lansing, in your estimate? Or a 'mid-range' Vega from an 'Artist Model'?

    thanks!

    Mick
    Well, this is my subjective opinion based on having played maybe a dozen Vega mandolins of different grades among which were 4 different 'Pettine Special' mandolins includning mine and the maestro's last instrument. The 'special' bit relates to materials, degree of finish and number of ribs, and length of fingerboard as opposed to their standard 'orchestral grade instruments'. I own one of the latter and it is every bit as good tonally as my "Pettine Special", it just has less frets and fewer ribs and more plain looking wood. My feeling with these instruments (as with the Embergher's and Calace's as well) is that the model guarranties a certain tonal spectrum.

    That strange compensated bridge looks really fussy for nothing. I wouldn't want to have to tweak it, probably impossible to do so. With most bridges I end up doing some tweaking and I find the standard Vega bridge very user friendly. With Embergher original bridges, I've yet to find a set of strings that intonate correctly. I do not use wound A strings.
    Last edited by Richard Walz; Dec-10-2010 at 2:38pm.

  5. #55
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vega roundback mandolins

    I agree with Richard for the most part. As noted, my style three Vega is a wonderful playing and sounding instrument and in some cases I would prefer it to most other bowlbacks except for a properly set up Embergher. BTW for a player as opposed to a collector, there is no real reason to play with the original bridge unless it is truly functional. Think about violin bridges -- how many pro violinists would insist on an original Guarneri or Stradivari bridge?

    I want to replace the Pettine bridge with a sensible repro one for a number of reasons. For one, I prefer a bone saddle and would have it intonated properly. 2nd that is one odd bridge and I wonder if it even works.

    BTW I may have found a relatively local excellent luthier --very busy, of course -- who is interested in working on this Pettine prob in the spring. I hope it works out. I will keep you posted and I can be patient.
    Jim

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  6. #56
    Full Grown and Cussin' brunello97's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vega roundback mandolins

    Thanks, Richard and Jim for the clarifications and additional information. It is great to have a dedicated Vega bowlback thread. I am coming around to seeing the Ditson Empire I just acquired as probably being a Vega--the beefy neck is the last sticking point. Nonetheless, the quality seems to extend across quite a range of Vega models. I think it is a positive thing in all respects that the discussion here contributes to the development of their reputation and a broader knowledge base about them.

    And while I'm at it, I will say how pleased I am that the Vega thread has skunked out Bro' Eug from his silence down 'south.' Always great to have you on hand, amigo.

    Mick
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  7. #57
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vega roundback mandolins

    ... nice to hear from Richard as well... it has been way too long. I hope good things are keeping you all from this site.
    Jim

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  8. #58

    Default Re: Vega roundback mandolins

    Does anyone happen to know which model this Vega might be?

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  9. #59
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vega roundback mandolins

    Looks like a style 4. Here's a catalog pic along with Jeff's pics.
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    Jim

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  10. #60

    Default Re: Vega roundback mandolins

    Thanks so much Jim. I'm considering my first bowlback. It was bound to happen eventually.

  11. #61

    Default Re: Vega roundback mandolins

    It should be a wonderful instrument, try not to overstring it (modern high tension strings) and use a more pointed pick (the sound will already be on the dark tone side).

  12. #62
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vega roundback mandolins

    Here is another style I have not seen in person or in photos. Called the Style 5 or Deluxe, aside from the artist models, the top of the line.
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    Jim

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  13. #63

    Default Re: Vega roundback mandolins

    First Post. I've had a Lansing Special for going on 16 years. Got it as a gift, but I think it cost @$500 at The Music Emporium in Arlington, MA. I'm no expert, but I consider it to be in excellent condition. Just a few pick scratches from strumming. Frets indicate very little playing. The only reason, I think, that it didn't dry out, since around New England the dry winter air kills neglected instruments, the only reason is that the funny hard leather case it came in sacrificed its moisture to it. I had a case made and keep a violin dampit in it, as well as run a humidifier in the room. Let me see if I can show you. I'd love to know its age. Best I can tell from bits of info here and elsewhere, maybe 1905. The nickel silver tuning key cover says: Lansing Special Boston MA. The serial stamping says: 29834. The natural light picture is closest to the real color, which is a rich red that I think is rosewood. The flash pictures alter the color. The finish is that good. It will pass to my estate. Love playing it even if I just do the basics. Such sustain! I tried a new The Gibson at a shop, at almost 10k. Sounded tinny, no sustain compared to this instrument. F hole arched tops can't compare. Playing it for church Wednesday. It fills the sanctuary. So evocative played slow. expressively.
    Scott
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  14. #64
    Work in Progress Ed Goist's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vega roundback mandolins

    Hi Scott; welcome!
    That is a magnificent looking mandolin.
    The back especially is just stunning.
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  15. #65
    Full Grown and Cussin' brunello97's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vega roundback mandolins

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott6113 View Post
    First Post. I've had a Lansing Special for going on 16 years. ..... Such sustain! I tried a new The Gibson at a shop, at almost 10k. Sounded tinny, no sustain compared to this instrument. F hole arched tops can't compare. Playing it for church Wednesday. It fills the sanctuary. So evocative played slow. expressively.
    Scott
    Are you trying to make some friends around here, Scott?

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  16. #66
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    Default Re: Vega roundback mandolins

    Here is another style I have not seen in person or in photos. Called the Style 5 or Deluxe, aside from the artist models, the top of the line.
    Hi Jim,

    Interesting that you should mention the "Deluxe" model. I haven't seen one exactly like the picture either. However, I do have a rather interesting high-end Vega that has a rosewood back with fluted ribs and silver separators. It is a fine instrument and the only one I've ever seen with fluted ribs. I let Dan Larson measure it years ago when he was coming up with his Vega-inspired model.

    Best,

    Eric
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  17. #67

    Default Re: Vega roundback mandolins

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    Here is another style I have not seen in person or in photos. Called the Style 5 or Deluxe, aside from the artist models, the top of the line.
    $275?? Big money back then! Is that more than the Loar F5s cost?

  18. #68
    MandolaViola bratsche's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vega roundback mandolins

    Hi and welcome, Scott!

    My Vega does not say anything on the tuning cover plate, but is otherwise as close to a twin of yours as I've seen. Well, except mine has a top that's a little more worn. But it has a bowl that's virtually identical to your picture, as is the style of inlay and the engraved tailipiece cover. Mine is numbered 27037, making it a little older than yours. Somewhere or other around here, I received information that placed mine around 1910.



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  19. #69

    Default Re: Vega roundback mandolins

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    There are three Artist models in one of my vega catalog reprints: Pettine, Abt and Gregorio Scalzo. Has anyone ever seen a Scalzo model? Has anyone any further info on him as a player? Vega just mentions that Sr. Scalzo toured the Americas and Europe and his tours caused "great furore". He is not listed in my copy of Bone.
    Let's see . . . A decade has passed. It seems about time to resurrect this old thread. I picked up another Vega mandolin about 1.75 years ago, not knowing anything about it other than it was a nice looking Vega with an extended fingerboard. In spite of corresponding quite a bit before the sale, the seller never directly answered my questions about functional condition, instead defaulting to discuss its cosmetic condition, volume, and quality of tone. Still, I sprung for it (probably shouldn’t have). It wasn't quite playable when it arrived: the cant has fallen and it fretted out in several positions.

    I asked some friends about restoring the soundboard’s cant, but none were willing to take that on. Finally, just a couple months ago, I took it to an altogether different luthier friend who was willing to “make it go” without a full-blown restoration. He removed the frets, planed/sanded the fingerboard to accommodate for the loss of height of the soundboard, refretted, and fit the bridge. It’s now with yet another local friend who may make time to restore the engraving in the position markers that was lost with the fingerboard work. In spite of the fallen cant, I’m pretty happy with its state. It’s now playable and is indeed loud.

    That brought me to some correspondence with my trusted mandobuddies and Cafe regulars (or occasionals) Jim, Paul, and Eric. After a little back-and-forth among us, Jim located a catalog image of Vega's Gregorio Scalzo artist model, and it fits! (The description mostly does.) Thus, voila, I appear to have inadvertently stumbled into the purchase of one of Vega's rarest professional models. It can be difficult to differentiate between Vega's 3 and 8 stamps, but I believe mine is 30899, which (following the tables Paul compiled) would place mine around 1914 vintage.

    We did quite a bit of probing following our correspondence and turned up quite a few articles and ads in the era's periodicals that mentioned Gregorio Scalzo. Here's a summary.

    . . . And pics:

    Scratchplate profile is unique to the Scalzo special model.
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    The bridge is ebony, no saddle, and strongly compensated. 29-fret fingerboard.
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    35 ribs without clasp (pay no attention to the weirdo reflected in the bowl).
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    Maple neck with classic Vega volute.
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    Hopefully, the position markers will resemble this again soon. There are no dots to mark position along the side of the fingerboard; the player is thus flying blind.
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    Last edited by Eugene; Sep-11-2021 at 6:05pm.

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  21. #70
    Full Grown and Cussin' brunello97's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vega roundback mandolins

    Wonderful, Martin.

    Fair play to you. That is truly a beauty.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Mick
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  23. #71

    Default Re: Vega roundback mandolins

    Quote Originally Posted by brunello97 View Post
    Wonderful, Martin.
    Thanks, but ribbing on your assumed typo, Mick, this is one of my Vegas and I'm still Eugene.

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  25. #72
    Full Grown and Cussin' brunello97's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vega roundback mandolins

    Doh. Sorry, bro.

    It did have me wondering how MJ would have scored a Vega over there in Wales.

    Maybe I was confusing it with that "Wonderful Martin" mandolin you have?

    Yeah, that must be it.

    Mick
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  27. #73
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vega roundback mandolins

    I call him wonderful Eugene!
    Jim

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  29. #74

    Default Re: Vega roundback mandolins

    Aw, shucks.

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  31. #75
    Registered User Martin Jonas's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vega roundback mandolins

    Quote Originally Posted by brunello97 View Post
    Doh. Sorry, bro.

    It did have me wondering how MJ would have scored a Vega over there in Wales.

    Maybe I was confusing it with that "Wonderful Martin" mandolin you have?

    Yeah, that must be it.

    Mick
    I have been called many things, but "wonderful" is rarely among them...

    Martin aka "Wonderful"

    (Congratulations on the Vega, Eugene)

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