Vox 3 Neck Workpage

Remove fingerboard, replace with original Block style inlay on AAA grade ebony board
Refret- Refinish-Re-dowel
Install onto late 40s Vox 3 Rim assembly
Original owner, George Rowland

Vintage  Pics!!


Here is Tyler in 2000, working on the original at my shop in Austin
The short story is we took the tenor neck off the banjo and installed a plectrum neck and the banjo was stolen along with 2 more.
Happily 2 of them were recovered but not the Vox 3 and later it went to Barry Grant for a project, tuners and all.

We inlaid it for Barry's "Eagle Vox" banjo and now it's resonator lives on the "Mastervox" so I have to pull this board and go back to Vox 3, 1950s inlay
And having the original Klusons was cream on the pie :)

Will change color to match the new look


Saved all inlay

Pretty clean board removal
Truss is still bedded properly

Smoothed up for new laminate veneer

Installed and finish stripped
Shot some clear to raise the grain, still some stained wood to deal with I will work it down a bit more and then let the new finish hide the rest.
I'll get a fingerboard measurement and get the board ordered

Pure white celluloid binding

Drilled for dowel

ready to glue

Fingerboard arrives from Allen

Nut placed to space the board
I cut the end block off too short by accident, will have to add it back on....grrrr.

Marking the sides

Cut to rough profile

One side binding added

Other side sanded to profile, ready to bind

Ready to add the end block

Making the spacing lines before the cut

That's what I get for cutting the end block off without thinking!
Time capsule Band-Aid  will be left for posterity (and to keep glue from that slot)

Ready to final trim the end

Using some of my new clamps from LMI
One closed up to show example
 Should be VG for centering as well as clamping

Scoring the mating surfaces with 60 grit crosshatch
I will use Behlen's Hide glue

The clamps work nicely
Would benefit having Radiused topped clamping cauls, easier on the stretcher bands, Ill make a set just for this and order in about 8 more

Side markers installed board final cleaning and fine wool, ready for inlay.

First tint coat

next 2 tints, that's what I got as my color now

I have a little silicone Im fighting on one side of the heel, not too bad.

Compared to the 70s Vox and a 60s Vox
Hey, there are 3 inlays I need in that Vox 1 !!The late model will be customized for Mr Barry Grant's old Eagle VOx
He donated TJs old neck back to him as we had used it on a project when TJ converted his 56 to Plectrum.
Then....it was stolen with 2 other banjos and we were able to recover those 2, but not the Vox so this neck and a few oddball pieces was all he had left from his original Vox
He will place this neck on a rare 40s Vox 3 rim assembly he purchased and have a nice tenor that is a part of his old one.
Thanks BG!!!!

I'm in there pretty close on the color scheme
TJs neck was a little darker due to the old stain job from when it was on BGs project.

Cleaning the edge


Around 4 more coats and I will see how we go on inlay.

Dowel stained to replicate the 50s color
Next to TJs Deluxe Plectrum neck

Now to add some clear to make it pop, and then add some stampings





These are only for making reproduction dowels that are missing, not to "fake" Vega banjos.
They are not exactly as the original for that reason.

Taping on to center it for the vise press

Hard press with a leverage bar in the vise to make it even tighter- 15 minutes per stamp



The Mohawk finish did not flake out like the original
 Sorry TJ :):)
Now, what number will we use
 The old # or match the  newer rim?

INLAY -  by Rene'e Karnes

TJ and I talked and we knew there was one person for this job and that was Rene'e.
She has seen more Vox 3's than any of us and knows how to match that look.
The original engraving is not what anyone really calls pretty so it is hard to mimic it, you always want to do "more"
This is what we were looking for, something that didn't look as sterile so our thanks to her for sticking with the original look.
She had to show her skill and hit the mark spot on!

I will ask TJ what is right side up on the ones with variables, he will know this by heart

I'm smiling, I'll bet he will as well

Another great job by Rene'e and now I will cut the cavities just right so as not to drop them to deep or shallow.
They have to be flat when the glue sets with no leveling

Some Tempura, for indicating the cavity periphery

Dot of glue to hold them while I scribe them

Ready to rout

2 set to depth and sealed down
I'll fret as I go to break up the tedium.

All in, fretted and sealed, now a first coat of oil


Rim assembly that was purchased off ebay.
TJ mailed the rim and resonator to me to get this thing buckled on up, so I trimmed the dowel tip to length first.
The rim was painted white long ago, but underneath is a shoe band Vox 3 rim with original plum color

The hole in the rim is too wide, I will rebuild the hole with shimwood

The neck is right at or below the plane of the tone ring,  I will elevate to only the thickness of the fingerboard, that should be optimum.

Neck angle is good for 9/16 to 5/8" bridges

Now to move up the hole

Dremel saw thru the brass

Rebuilding the hole.
It will all be nice and sealed together at the end.

Will need a little more relief for the head at the heel.

Hole rebuilt and ready, nice and tight

Tuners installed

Neck attaching hardware installed

Ready to glue in the dowel
Barry Grant gave me a Vox tailpiece so I gave it to TJ, and he got the brass flanges from John Huntsberger and his Machinist friend Mike in San Antonio made the brass hex lugs.
He got a tension hoop on ebay in fair repairable condition and had it brazed back together.
Now we need a period Elton armrest to complete the look, the prewar will do just fine for now.


Tyler acquired a period resonator off Ebay that will complete his package nicely


A lot of neat history, like in his original which was cool.

Nice leveling, went VG, recrowned, polished to high shine, 0000 wool and dressing the ends

I got this kid on TV, plays a pretty good Bass line.
He likes to follow the progress.

His old boss, Mr.Ray Price
The Chief always said "The Best Banjo is a Tenor Banjo" :)
Thats no joke.

Board getting a final oiling, I'll cut a new nut now.

Fresh bone from LMI

Ready to slot


Good clearance on fingerboard

After my trial run in Bb gauges  I found out what I wanted to know for tenors, so now onward


I had an original Period  Lifton HSC that I have been stashing back for a special occasion and I sprung it on TJ, so that it would be complete.
Its lik e his old one, and he still has his "VEGA" badge for the outside so it will look perfect.

OK, I'll dust it!

There was no way to do the work with binding covering so much delam, so I removed it in pieces, no saving it.
Will go back with white celluloid from Axiom

All this needs to be pulled back down as best as possible, Im forming a battle plan

Heating the back to 110 F, before trying to flex anything

I decided on a 5/8 plywood jig to use and a clampling plate over the topside
I'll heat areas and clamp to see how far they will go
The harder ones I will wet with water then pull some more

For now its just adding clamps and testing areas for pulldown.
I will make another plate now for the back to really clamp on and keep the direct heat off the celluloid

OK, second plate, ready to go

Now for some real heat and Ill add all the power clamps tomorrow


Heating, feeding in some water in the areas that are the widest.
I'm "hoping" the softening of the ply and the warming and softening of the Pyralin will all me to pull tighter and tighter

Forcing water inward with air

All day heating in the Texas Summer, tightening periodically.........and more clamps.

Scraped to Profile

Ready to tint

Light makes it look yellow, its not

That's closer to how it really looks