Vega Tubaphone # 9 Tenor


Restore to playable condition - partial resto
Check forward warp in neck
Replace tuners - use old buttons
Replace tailpiece
Replace Armrest with Gibson Style
Clean all hardware, and coat with Nikolas Brass Instrument lacquer
Replace head with Remo medium crown
Setup banjo to accept 5/8 bridge (1/2 is standard)
(Requires modifications from original design)

Finish worn in all normal places, Resonator Concave in center

Recommend heat/steam/jig up to pull back into profile

Page tuners from Paramount banjo
Recommend ABM small shaft tuners, 4:1


#9 tubaphone configuration, closed end nuts
Need to add stops onto flanges where missing
Resonator lip needs repair/refinish

Non orig nuts
I can make some closer to correct

Matching #s

Armrest mounted improperly

 Nice engraving, I'll  have seen something slimmer but not this exact pattern
Not sure of the engraver
Its nice on the shoe band too.
Stipling on the top of the hoop


Previously Repaired

In the past, someone replaced, or added binding to the peghead and replaced the bottom inlay

Refetted with thin wire, rebound with grained ivroid binding
Some divoting left from the last fretwork, needs filling
Inlay has all been pulled and reset, some are newer and fresh engravings

One broken on reinstallation

NOTE - Fingerboard has been leveled once

You can see binding is thin on both ends, showing me that the inlay was pulled to try and get the warp out of this fingerboard by planing it flat.
They got some of it, but not all

And you can still see the warp up around 3-4 , even with no pressure
 This may mean if I cannot heat press it from here to flat and compression fret, that it will require a new fingerboard/binding/reset inlay

Low neckset - Typical

Most Tubaphones from the era have a neck that is level or sometimes below  the level of the plane of the tone ring bearing edge.

 Some  players shim at the heel when they want more height on a bridge but when they do, this pushes the heel away from the rim, lessening the contact.
So that's a Band-Aid, not a fix

You can see 2 things in the pic below
 The low neckset ....and the head about to bottom out against the heel
Another reason not to run high crown heads on tubaphone besides bottoming out the closed end nuts.
So to gain neck height and get this neck over the plane of the head to play in a modern setup this is my Vega Method.

You can see heel contact is 100 percent and this dowel has a perfect set to it, and good neck angle
These necks almost always need HEIGHT, not always angle

But with high crown, I could only go up 1/32, and bottom out and....,

... Tubaphones heel cap goes under the shoe band and has to be trimmed back
I have seen many heel caps popped off when folks try shims at the top to force the neck back

Neck  Height Modifications

Heel cap cut made, now it will clear the shoe band after I smooth it on down
Didn't hit the inlay....this time. :)
Some do

This cut is to make more room so that even with a High Crown pulled to max like this one, my Modification will still work correctly
if not it can only use medium crown, no reason it cannot use both in  a pinch

Now I will cut upwards in the cut out removing wood and brass so neck will ride upwards


Now the neck rides up and over the hoop nicely, and will do the job

And even the neck pushed up with this fully pulled high crown, Im right at bottom out after trimming that section out.

Next I will glue in a block at the bottom of the hole to keep the neck up and tight when hardware is on
Now for the front

Plug the hole...

Take out a small block to rise the front the same as the back, and still be able to use the same lag hole

Now I will drill out for the lag, lowering the hole just a hair

And make a block to go under the front cut out and that completes the procedure for now

Presto tailpiece is weak, losing it in the joint, common

Next to a Style X 9  its barely older transitional brother

You never know who was graving on what day, same as carving
All are a little different



Filling the page tuner holes

Redyed and taking on finish

Polishing hardware, and will acetone wash to prep for Nikolas

Interesting find
There is some history, if only RK could speak....

Very talented engraver, consistent is the rule

edge blackened with Fiebig's before new clear coat applied

Soldering new stops to the flanges

Adding 4 coats of Nikolas to the prepped hardware

2 coats clear on the rim, all under heat

Setting up on Renaissance head, courtesy of www.bedfordbanjoshop.com

Hooks were hand polished, all show vestiges of gold and copper flashing under that, and then bare metal
4 coats Nikolas will make them stay a nice patina


Taking the varnish out so I can soak this down with water and heat, to pull the dent from the resonator center

Broiling and boiling it with 1000 watts, and center pressure from my jig.

Most came out with the first pull, Ill try to get more in the center

Back down onto styrofoam this time
 Im trying to pull only the center and the foam helps form and support in that one area


Dome is back, very nice profile

I will take this all back to blond, get the buckle rash out and it will be nice

Sanded to 320

Sealed and first tint coat (Maple)

Good to see domes back in both of these

2nd tint coat, ready for clear coats on the back and I'll start the sidewall

Wiping in some new golden flake acrylic

Finalizing the clear coats

Now for the lip repair

Teflon dams to shore up the super glue and a zip kicker to speed it all up.
I'll make my way around and then level the top

Grinding out the excess on the lip

Now that some oil dye is on it, I can see a few more blems to fix and then Ill start on he clear coats on the inside.
I can't make it look as it was never there (cost effectively) but it will be nice again up top
All seams were glue filled and scraped back to profile so its tight inside and outside.

Its at the back of that pile taking on some clear under lamps.


Medium crown head allows just enough hook to come thru the flange plate

REMO HEAD,  courtesy of www.bedfordbanjoshop.com


Heating inlay in 2 necks that need board work

All pulled, ready to remove board


I'll have to level it on out with a flat scraper
The new fingerboard from Allen will be tall enough to plane nicely before inlay

  Carbon rod from LMI
I will bed it 1/8 W by 3/8 H
I wanted tall and thin for this application

Routing the cavity

Almost there

Ready to bed with 2 part epoxy

Clamped for 8 hour cure
Waiting on fingerboard from Allen

Adding a black veneer over the truss

Board in from Allen, now to profile it
We do not have the luxury of getting pre sized boards, that's a thing of the past

Cut to rough profile, now to smooth it for binding

One side done, now the other

Centerline for inlay

White tempura paint to give a background for scribe lines
A dab of glue will hold them in place

heating it up to dry the glue

Routing the cavities

Tempura removed, ready to set the MOP
It is super thin, 1/2 thickness of new MOP so I will have to really keep it level, no room to level because of engraving

Close cavities mean less filler

All set and board buffed with 000 fine wool
I added black jewelers wax back into the engravings

Board glued on and re-profiled, adding new marker dots

All fretted with #14 wire, and oiling up the board one last time



End dress

0000 fine wool

Need o piece in 1/16 headstock binding

Color coat, and the first clear coat

Fingerboard trimmed on the end, dowel refinished

Treble side D string hole is close to the edge.
Ordered small shaft ABM tuners
No matter what is used, MOP will be cut into a bit.

Holes reamed
Now for a final 2 coats on the neck

Going with Tension Lock Tailpiece
This was #22 from Dan Goodrich, Inventor
No finer Fingerstyle Tailpiece on the market.
Nikolas Gold Lacquer to Brighten and Protect it.


T Lock in place
 Resonator stops were fitted to be very snug, you have to push it on now.

I will clean and then Machine buff the buttons

This shows them clean but camera cannot pick up the real Luster.
It is significantly different.

3 coats of  Renaissance after buffing

A final coat of oil on board and a little more wax on all the hardware

You can snug it with a Nickel, and that's all it needs.
The crown is nice on this resonator
As soon as tuners arrive they will go on and we will close this out.

Signed per request!

Adding Nikolas Lacquer to the new ABM's  from Bob Smakula.

After fitting the original MOP buttons


Tuning is DGBE
 GHS strings courtesy of www.bedfordbanjoshop.com