Kevin Scott's
Vegaphone Professional Tenor Banjo

Restore as needed
Change color to Honey Amber

We will start with this example
Well played, many war scars.


Head choice-  1015 Cloudy


These are highly figured pieces that we intend to use on the instrument
They are original period Vegaphone pieces, just an upgrade to the wood selection.

Some old screw holes to fill

Stripping the finish

Spalting in the wood, that is the dark areas

Inside of resonator cleaned and black areas re-dyed
Will glue on the heel cap

Ready for new binding with side markers

A coat of tint for a look-see

Now with 2 coats clear, I will clean the bindings of the tint

Sunny days, , 3 coats a day

8 coats, ready to wetsand and buff in 72 hours
I will begin the tear down on the rim next.

Since it is stain, it will take sanding not stripper
light with the 120 and than on to 400
No pressure over the serial number.

Fiebig's for the bottom

Drilling out for Gotoh's

Just a look to see how they fit, I think my choice of the amber buttons on this color go well.
Then back to sanding/finishing

Finish complete and curing

I decided after measuring the existing re-fret wire that it was getting close to it's limits.
When working for a professional, you must consider the hours of play time and in my opinion these frets would be maybe 2 years good.
So I will re-fret with Stewart Mc Donald #147 wire / medium banjo
So a Texas brand cola, some Dago chocolate, a nice tape off to retard chipping, and we will give it a go.

Frets out, time to go into the "fret chest"

Only a few folks have ever seen it, it is my fetish to keep all the old fret jobs, label important ones just to see how it all ends for me.
I started a few years late but that's OK.

Daughter's old jewelry box, by year
2014 was a slim year, that was when we had to get ourselves started on our move back to Austin

27 lbs counting the box and drawers

I figure that I can pull enough DNA from the undersides to create banjo players in the future so I am doing my part.
I mark only the great players and important banjos, you cannot cross breed at will at Banjohaven!

Off you go into here Kev.
Almost full

The 2017 and onward drawer is 2 drawers deep, maybe I can retire when it fills, we will see!
Ok, moving on.

Ready for the 147
You must clean the fret wire with a solvent.
 All fret wire has a machine oil from the mfg process, this impedes glue retention.
Wipe it until it leaves a clean rag.

Nipping the ends to fret over the binding

Compressing with Jaws.

Going well, nice slots, full compression, Fun Meter going upwards.

The tape would catch any chipping, none so far

End nippers

Tight to the board, all looking good

Over the heel hammering, I like a thick steel washer for my arbor.

Wires sealed with #10 Stewmac
All ready to final out

"Setting the ends"
I will actually use the backside, some people use a punch with a slot in it. I'm accurate so this is fine, it presses the ends to the binding.

Removing the excess, and then a 20 degree bevel cut so I am at 90 degree now, and will "cant " the file when the time comes.

Minor leveling , normal on new wire to get everything close.
There is alot of "feel" and "sound" that plays into this leveling, end dressing etc.... and only experienced Luthier;s will know what I mean there.

Diamond Re-crown file

Cleaning off the glue residue after a 3 stage scuff to 2000 grit

End dressing with a special 2 sided file made for the process

More fine wool ,ready for first oil

After machine buffing fingerboard and wire to high shine.
Ready for more oil and polishing

1st assembly

Makers marks on the shoe band.

Hardware machine buffed, and then hand polished
I will assemble the rim with the old hook sets and install the new ones one at a time when they arrive.
This will allow me to set the head and elevate the neck.


The block of wood I am pointing at is to be removed. And equal size  block will be added at the bottom of tenon hole.

The rough cut, and then a mini disc grinder on the dremel will left the bit of metal.

Rough cut complete

Now with the lift a small amount of the topside must be reduced to allow room for med-high crown heads to adjust fully.

Here after the rough cut you can see it has the room now.
Next I have to reduce the heel cap. This neck had one that was extended and they will catch the shoe band on the other rim.
Most times people will pull up on one and it will pop the cap off.
 That is how this one came to us, already off.
Another subtle difference found on factory banjos of different serial number ranges.

I also now believe this is from a 10-3/4" rim.
10-3/4" in 10-12/16" and the rim is 10-15/16"
the shortage looks like the right amount.
The dowel ferrule will hide the gap and I will build up the tip to meet the rim

All hardware tight.
Neck yoke is a little extended, I'll have to work on that.
It needs a thicker back plate
neck is fine sanded for the final coats

elevation is just right, mission accomplished

Neck angle is correct and heel contact is 100 percent without the heel cap in the way

I will do the minor adjustments and then "Finish the finish" while I await the new hook sets.

Final wet sanding up to 2000# on Resonator and neck, then machine buff

New Gotoh tuners from Bob Smakula and Amber buttons.

Adding some mass for the new neck hardware to work on the dowel hole in the new neck.

Will string up with Remo head and GHS strings furnished by

Eating some excellent cookies from my pal Steve in the U.K., reading the latest on the Blackpool airshow and working on Kevin's banjo.
So everything is "In theme"
Except for the drink, that would be strong coffee :)

Utilizing the Presto tailpiece.
It prefer to leave it on and allow the customer to experiment if wanted.
Many long and successful careers came and went throughout time on banjos using the Presto.
I know of no experiences of a good musician getting the axe because of his choice of tailpiece.
And if you use the Vega armrest, these bends that were put into it by the owner is exactly what it takes to make one fit halfway right.
Not the best design, simple and cheap like the Presto, but they both get the job done.

Resonator has wax on it, ready for final buff.


Tyler Jackson was visiting so he gave it a good thrashing.
Playing well up and down the board


New Hook sets arrive from Rickard Banjos

All the oldies will pack up in the case.
These are like Fairbanks, 5/16 and with nice new threads


OK, it is off to the U.K
She is packed well and I will be praying to the shipping Gods!
Thanks for watching, and thanks Kev, for all the great years of shared banjo love.