Vega Electric Tenor Banjo
Instrument is in Good
condition, with some older restoration present.
Some playing wear, some personal upgrades,a good candidate for
If Vega did this
coloration, it was on their worst day.
Neck and Top
finish is an over spray of the original by the Vega Co.
I have seen this many times ..
50-60s Elton Tuners,
I think it would have had 30's Grovers on it.
Hardware correct, no break
refinish will take care of
all chip outs
Plating is degraded, and could use a re-plate
I am searching for a
new plater at this time, mine retired.
I have 2 jobs ahead of
this awaiting plating
Serial number in top of
peghead like my Vega Lute
Electrics complete and original as far as I can tell
All corrosion will be dealt with and then a check
of the system ran.
I will try to maintain
originality but if
there is a problem with the electrics they will be upgraded
That is how light it was originally.
Thick finish, typical of
an over spray
I will use "Deoxit"
on the pot and switch to see if that will get them to good performance
I have had to seal the
windings, there were some that had come loose over time and were
contacting the poles.
Removing the finish.
No stripper, only scraping and acetone
It is that gummy varnish Vega used in the 50s
Frets removed, slots had
little retention-normal for celluloid
Removing the heel finish,
starting to see the detail again with the overburden gone
neck binding is cracked
along the fret slots -
I will replace it with new
correct ivoroid like is
Picking out the leftovers
Finish removal completed
Stripping with some other Vega parts
Fiebig's dye for the lip
Starting the tint coat (Honey Amber) , and 1 coat of sealer for
With other pieces getting the same tint while I have it in the
Second shade- (Reddish Brown)
These are the standard colors I use for this era Vega, and this
is the pattern my guns will spray the burst.
All gun tips have different patterns and this is as close as I
can get it with mine.
Now for the clear coats.
It has taken 2
hours and the lightest of polishing compounds to remove the
acrylic, a tenacious bond , the leftovers had.
with no sanding whatsoever, the wear lines on the ivoroid pattern celluloid
shows the most in the 1-5 position
Bindings are degraded so I will pull them while I remove the
rest of the grime and finish from peghead
Peghead is not celluloid, it is Boltoron.
This will make for problems removing this unsightly finish.
If that is factory, it is on someone's worst day.
The G in Vega is messed up, I want to point that out before the
hard work begins.
This time the polish has no effect, the paint is married to the
boltoron so this is a rag with acetone.
What you do is whisk it over the surface, turning the rag on
every swipe. You cannot let it set still at all.
This allows the fast evaporating solvent to flash off each wipe.
The gravings are super shallow, another big issue and I will
lose some of them.
Right now is usually when the faint of heart go pale, I already
know what is going to happen
As you wipe, no matter the care, the degraded surface of the
Boltoron gives way and you lose some lines.
We are talking lines that are less than .003" deep
This is what happens when you go for a full restoration
If this does not work, then a new overlay has to be created so
you have to be prepared when you go all the way on something.
That is about normal for the attempt.
These lines, if the
Boltoron will co-operate, have to be cut back into the
They also have to be dressed in the fingerboard and re-blackened
Worst case scenario will be a new overlay and my engraver will
be able to tell me if he can repair the original.
I can outsource for the Boltoron, or possibly get it in pure
white celluloid id the right thickness is not readily
After a wet sanding of 2000 ultra fine, it is ready for binding
All the fret slots must be deepened to accept the modern
#147 banjo wire
Adding some clear
Tape-off each time, you must pull tape within 2 min to inhibit
sealing to celluloid edges.
Deepening the slots, prep for binding - white celluloid.
Ready to profile
Dye for the faded overlay and heel cap
Ready for 1st tint
After both tints, and 1 clearcoat
DETAIL PAINT - FRET WORK
New acryl and brushes, will do a Vox 3 neck at the same time
Tint is already on Vox neck
The color pattern has been left to my choice so here we go.
Laying the acrylic in the heavy brushstroke way of the orig.,
with "not enough" paint on the brush
Shown next to the orig in the pic.
The clear coats will make it all "pop"
First I will tint in because I want to hide some of the old war
marks as well as get a brighter and more multilevel outcome.
Tint shot, same as the 56 Vox.
Pulled the border back to white
First clear coat to seal it down
On to the fingerboard while that cures.
After 2 coats clear lacquer on the detail work, the
gravings are starting to brighten.
One to go.
147 Stew Mac banjo wire
All in and sealed, ends dressed, ready to level and re-crown and
Plating should be done soon.
Plating will return in the next few days so I am getting
Final lacquer completed, will buff and get ready for the new
Gotoh gold plated tuners
The awful Eltons will be a thing of the past.
words are "Use this for..."----still trying to see it
All final buffing completed
I will pull the neck and do all of the final fret work
A look at the back, and now we will await the plating and
Plating - Assembly
Electric in- test- OK, sound VG, no hums other than the normal
Plating just in from Reliable Plating, and it looks great.
Our first time together and I could not be more pleased.
"Wedding ring gold", is the color. Ready to string up
Setup on DR tenor banjo strings, Nickel wound
New Gotoh Gold plated tuners from Smakula Banjos.
Smooth and nice.
The factory holes are not symmetrical so the back will only go
on this way.
Bad choice from the factory, slanted grain?
No, my mind cannot handle that.
Will fill holes and line up grain, re-drill
That will be its look, Vertical grain.
You can see holes like up to be on both sides of tailpiece and
at the neck, this is the way the driller of the back intended.
Now to for final wetsand and buffing, tweak the setup
Action now down to 4/32, nut slots dressed, plays great
The posts for the bridge are still high so I will adjust them
downwards from the inside.
The boss wants a custom back made in the fashion of a
celluloid back Vegavox 4 Deluxe so I am taking a scrap of
acrylic and doing a tight scribed line for O.D., and drill-outs
matching the original screw holes
That should do the trick.
Now for a couple final shots and a plan for the trip.
OK, I have worried over this baby enough, now it needs to go
She will be packed well, and sent to the Great White North.
I doubt I will ever get to work on another
one, so thanks to Dana for giving me the opportunity.
I hope it has a safe journey and a Happy camper at the terminus.
After much deliberation, I decided it was best that the
instrument be returned to me for a fitting and final finish.
When I had Ron make the back, we sent examples and for some
reason my mind did not tell him to match what colors I had on
the instrument, not the pics we sent.
Even when he sent an example I did not register the fault,
which I would like to blame on getting older, too much work,
etc, but it is still "My bad"
Dana understood my anxiety so back it came and here we go.
My template was correct and the screws aligned perfectly but the
tip of the star is not centered in the heel.
Ron got it as close as he could by eye, and all I will need to
do is pull it, fill the old holes, and move it clockwise a bit,
re-drill, thats all.
Remove Color -Re-Drill holes
Filled and dyed.
2000 grit, to just remove the acrylic on the top
ready for new colors
I will just put a sequence without words.
That is a better match for the existing color theme.
Now, I will get the Yellow tint coat on it after the acrylic
cures overnight, and this will make the colors "pop"
Then clear coats will follow.
Ok, now we will get a custom case made for it, and get it once
again, back to the Great White North.
Thanks for watching,Vinnie