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  • 1928 Vegaphone Pro Tenor Banjo

1928 Vegaphone Pro Tenor Banjo

1928 Vegaphone Pro Tenor Banjo

I totally love Vega banjos from this period. The very first quality fretted instrument I ever owned, when I was about fifteen years old, was a Vega tenor banjo with their patented "Tu-ba-phone" rim and tone ring design, for which I made a 5-string neck and was then on my way to a career that has now lasted almost sixty years. This tenor banjo, a Vegaphone Professional, has that same rim and tone ring construction with a standard 11” diameter rim and 19-fret neck. However……..it’s a pretty special custom version, in that all of its rim and tone ring parts have original gold plating, from the factory, as what must’ve been a custom order. The plating is tarnished and worn in a few places but it definitely is original; I know my Vega banjos and this one has never been apart since the day it was made. There is also a set of original “Planet” tuning machines on it, the finest of the day and still the best. The banjo was owned by one Jimmy Gaylard of St. Petersburg, Florida. Mr Gaylard apparently got around quite a bit, as not only is his name beautifully painted on the case in faded red, the names of three bands he played in are hand-painted on it as well. "Rex MacDonald’s Silver Kings” and "Burk’s Coliseum Orch” are on the lid and “Southerners” is on the back of the case, in faded gold. The banjo has a genuine calfskin head which sure looks original to me, and the neck is nice and straight with original frets that are in remarkably good condition. There is also an Ettinger-type “finger” tailpiece, a period item that is a definite improvement over the original. The armrest is Vega-type, chrome plated to match the tailpiece. The resonator is original though most of the binding from its upper edge is gone and some of the backing for that binding is gone. All binding on the back edge is intact and good. The resonator is original and usable AND…...the original owner’s name, James A. Gaylard, and his address in Florida are hand-written on the inside, in pencil, along with “Dec 21, 1925”, which pre-dates the banjo’s 1928 manufacture. What that date signifies is anyone’s guess. The strings are ancient and the banjo could use a little setup but not much; the action height is great. And now comes the kicker, brings the entire package into focus as a truly great piece: an original accessory from the period, a pair of spear-twist yellow lightbulbs inside the banjo, run on standard modern 110V house current, and the bulbs are original and they work! Gives one heck of a dazzling lit-up look to it, and probably originally sold as a way to keep those calfskin heads dry and tight as well. The original AC line cord is included. This is a terrific overall period package, the story of one person’s life as a musician nearly a hundred years ago, and I just love seeing complete stories like this. I will do my best to pack and protect the light bulbs in shipping to you but cannot guarantee that they will work on arrival. Modern replacements are still made. Offered as is for $1095 w/ohsc



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