Frank's Whyte Laydie

Non original neck and resonator

Resonator does not fit well suggest replacement original Vega

Neck exhibiting severe forward pull (Warp)
Suggest Original neck  with refret and refinish


1920s Tubaphone #3
Mahogany - Carved Heel
Needs refret-Binding-dots-frets-finish-new dowel


Frets pulled, fingerboard leveled, new binding installed

Overlay dyed and sealed

first coat of sealer, will stop for refret

Refret complete with Stewmac 147 wire
Side markers installed
Oiling the board

Someone tried to put double rod on the neck and drilled  thru the rim
They found that it was not "roomy and I guess abandoned this and made the dowel neck.
I can plug the wood and will leave the metal, is under the tailpiece and rarely seen

Also they did it on the mortise, I can 1/2 dowel it and fix that hole

Hardware was plated without even removing the shoes, so we won't do that, it will break loose the plating
I may replace the mismatched hooksets, some are Vega other generic, Ill ask the boss what he wants to do.

Rim plugged

Mortise repaired

rim dyed , bottom trim blackened and clear coats going onto it.
Lacquer is Mohawk Classic Instrument finish


30 Vega flange plates buffed and installed
New hooksets with smooth threads

Now for a BIGGER resonator than the one that came to me for it , this is an 11-7/8" rim.
I'll try again


New dowel glued and weighted to maintain angle

Frets leveled


Oiling up the board one last time after 0000 fine wool over it all

Lengthening the new dowel, no one makes the long dowel anymore.

Serial number added

Stained and clear coated

All Vega hardware inside, with end ferrule


Armrest buffed to brass, and Nikolas instrument lacquer applied.
This is what Trumpets and Saxes have over Brass or Gold.
I will be trying different bridges, and will try the Oettinger fingerstyle tailpiece that came on some high end Vega banjos as well as Bacon and Day.
Strings courtesy -

I replaced 2 missing screws, otherwise it is excellent.

Bridge position is now optimum for full tone

Banjo is fully setup and ready to play
Tone is huge, big and full
Locating a Resonator is all that is left so that is it for now.
This will further extend its tone projection

Our Thanks to Paul at THE FOLK SHOP in Tucson AZ

These orphaned resonators might as well be next to "Unobtainium" on the Periodic Table of Elements

To get one that's pie sectioned, and in this VG original condition is just grand.

It's at times like these, that I am GLAD someone converted a 4 string to a 5 string and left the resonator to go back onto a 4 string!
Trust me, I was at the point of buying whatever banjo I could find with one attached and cannibalize it, then sell it as a converted 5 string.
But Paul saved us, and I'm grateful.

There is an interesting "code" written in pencil on all the pie sections
This will stay for posterity, maybe Frank can decipher this one.
There is a pattern, read vertically.
Ill just add oa coat of clear to protect the wood in here.

I will have to alter the heel opening a tad to accept the carved heel #3 neck.
Then, pull a tiny concavity from the center and then refinish to match and add in neck attaching hardware.
This concavity comes from excessive tightening of the center bolt that attaches it to the banjo.
It will affect tone considerably when severe, this is minor
You can view an example of a more severe case ON THIS RESTO PAGE
And my method of recovery.


It looks like a regular 10-15/16 rim Vega  resonator until you see it encapsulating the smaller version

Now to get a matching finish on it and get this baby completed


I will go thru every case I have and hope for something large because this case is as big as most modern cases.
Keep your fingers crossed again

Also I got in some repro Gibson styled armrest so if comfort is desired, now is the time to swap out.
It will be chrome plated , matching the rest of the banjo.

Cleaning the inside so I can steam the center out

I sealed all the edge and reblackened with Fiebigs oil dye
The letters that were on the inside have been transferred to a piece of paper.
They were so faint that I knew the acetone wash would pull them so I traced out what I could read

Its in the jig and the center is wetted out and under 1000W heat, Im relaxing that area only on this one

Pulled all the way, and drying

Nice dome back in it now

Removing old varnish

Sanded to 320, some patina will remain

Inside sealed and top edge dyed one more time, 2 coats clear

Outside sealed ready, to move to the tint phase

Edge of heel cut trimmed 1/16 each side to accept the wider carved heel neck

After the 3 color fade, the maple matches the mahogany in the standard Vega look and it suits me.

The flash on the cam makes it brigher than it really is, the reddish shows better in some angles

Thats sort of more the real look, reddish like the heel on the edges and sidewall
Now for about 6 more coats of Mohawk, and a few days cure time and on to wetsanding and buffout
Then I will bolt it up , tweak it one last time and get this big baby home !
I'm going for a good production finish for a banjo that will be a player.



Showing her prowess next to it's 10-15/16" Vegaphone Artist brother.

A formidible machine it has become, I cannot wait to get it home so Frank can thresh her on out

Thanks for watching,Vinnie