John G's Vegaphone Artist
6 string guitar banjo

Repair to play
(Neck warp-loose dowel)
Repair resonator (damaged in shipment)
Refinish Neck Rim and Resonator
Buff all hardware and protect remaining gold with brass lacquer
Repair stress crack in armrest
Setup to play on Chris Sands Classical strings

Packing woes

A note to all:
Do not think just because a packaging service tells you they will protect the instrument...that they will.
This is ALL of the packing that was in the box.......that one piece.
And then the banjo in the case.


Dowel was easy to remove, glue release as well as the impact at the heel may have assisted.

The seams in the neck are all loose, all laminations must be sealed

I will inject the heel cap and clamp off

Resonator flange takes out the lip on the resonator, I have seen this countless times.
Inertial impact takes no prisoners.

Inside completed, ready for outside refinish

Stripping the outside

Sealed, ready for tint and clear

Armrest had a stress crack I soldered in a brass shim

After buffing and Brass lacquer


Ready to pull

I will clean the slots and go with 147 wire

Compression, with neck also under back tension

Hammering in frets over the heel loosed an inlay, common on Vega, so all will be sealed

All in, ready for end trim-level-recrown-dress ends-polish

Adding markers

Buffing the frets and board

Prepping the dowel

Set at good angle

A little weight to keep the angle

Neck has a crack here, I will inject with #10, and clamp off

Crack in peg head veneer, this will be filled as well

All the back laminates filled with #10 clamped off and cured with neck under pressure.
1 full oz was wicked in.

Now for the crack, I will fill it, then pull it upwards in a special clamp jig.

Adding dye, ready for finish

New color and clear coats going on


Will take all hardware apart, buff, clean, and spray with brass lacquer

Re-dye for the bead, before fresh rim finish

Someone has been in here had 2 homemade screws, one was not good, I made another

Buffing all the metal, trying to leave all the old gold that I can

Prepped for Brass lacquer, it is made for this job.

Making new screws for the tailpiece, the old ones are gone, ill cut these down to size

Rim assembled, original head is pulled to max, thats not good.
Will see how it sets up

Still taking on clear


Low neck set causing head to be bottomed out prematurely, at the heel

The head is at the end of the neck notch.
This area will have to be relieved of some wood to get elevation to make this instrument play correctly with a modern setup.
A common problem on older banjos is a low neck set can mean a low bridge to keep a low action.
This will remedy that.

That is the plane of the neck, steep enough angle but fingerboard needs to rise.

With flat bar on the head, you can see at least 3/32 rise is needed

The tone ring can be seen here, over the plane of the neck.

Dis-assembly for new head/ neck elevation

The hole will be cut out on the topside, then the neck can go up after the heel cut is made, and the heel cap is shortened.
Then a shim will go under the dowel to hold the neck up.

The bottom head is brand new, and has a manufacturer error, that crimp is terrible.
The head above came off it, you can see it losing its grip at the crimp, alot has pulled out

Well that was the only new 1113 Renaissance I had, so I will use a new bottom frosted 1113 H2
The tone will be close, the look will be nice and if JG wants a Renai he can put one on if it ever needs a head change.

Crown is fine on this one
That is not the first Renaissance I have gotten of late, that had problems,
I'm glad I did not install it and find out later, harder to explain to my vendor.

I cannot stand the little bit of over spray from frosting the head on a slick top.
I take it off with acetone, and penalize REMO by removing the logo at the same time.
I'm childish that way.

Ok, back to the cut out, I like the head to be on so I know how high I can go.

Chisel out the wood after removing the little brass strip from the cut.

I'll file it up, then go to the neck joint cut

That is the placement, not cut it to depth.

Take out the section

Smooth the edge, and touch up with finish.

Now you have to take that lip off the heel for the neck to rise.
Forget that and push...upwards.....pop the cap, back to work.
Not that I have ever done it.......more than twice.

Pushing in the cut out piece as the bottom shim.

Great elevation now,1/16 over the plane of the tone ring


Using Silk wound Classical's from Chris Sands.
The strings that came on it were good, I re-used the silks and put on the 13-10 steel with new GHS.
The resonator has not yet been wet sanded and buffed.

All up to tension, neck is as flat as a pancake, I am pleased
Tone is Superb, plays with ease , wonderful, even I can get around and sound good on it.
Very encouraged , even at early stages of setup

The action is good 3-4/32" will be easily obtainable on the 5/8" bridge


I will pull together the inside and repair the full periphery outside.
It has some serious damage on the peg head end that I will deal with as well

All sealed and sanded, ready for lacquer

I will seal the handle next

Sealing the paper inside the handle with #10, and #20 black CA
The 10 will go all into the tolex and paper and this will end up a solid handle

Sanded off, ready for lacquer


My buddy Cap Mike Moe will see I have gotten my $ worth from that sanding block.
1999 I think I bought that one, Boats, Cars, RVs,JetSkis...Planes.... Banjos, that block has seen some work.
See where my thumb stays..."_"

After machine buff, a few coats of Carnuba

Final Update 6-1

Remo head failure

Woke up with a sag on the Bass side....well, the banjo did.
Replace with new Renaissance
Well, "Best laid plans..."etc.
Turns out that although the bottom frosted looked better, it wasn't
If it was me, I'd say so, but I have not had good luck in the last 4 orders from Remo.
My dealer has supported me, and will again, this is not on him, this is a MFG issue
It is not the first time REMO has had issues with the glue and crimp design and I feel that I have experienced a bad run of heads that have failed under minimum tension.
This one was not even to full tension, the bead shows it so it will be returned and REMO will credit me.
I did go and look in the back and found one more Renaissance that looks OK all around, so here we go.

Something is wrong with that plastic it has no give , brittle.

All tuned back up, everything "seems" normal, I am a little gun shy .
I have put on well over 2000 heads, maybe I'm just getting stronger as I age.

Final nut cutting, bridge slotting, all good to go, sounds great....

Ok Mike, we got a dead soldier to ship back, I'll mail it to ya.

12 hrs later...OK

OK, now to get this thing home to make real music, it will not just be something sitting around and getting looked at.
JG will put it thru its paces and I will hope for a favorable report.
I feel honored to work on these fine instruments for such fine people.

Thanks for watching,