Finally I got a tiny bit of time to get back up in the workshop yesterday. Here's a pretty little 10" rim Vega Style K banjo mando, with a serial (matching on rim & dowel) that dates to 1927. Like all of these Style Ks I've worked on, it sounds fantastic and (after setup and a fret dress) plays like butter. I'm entirely convinced this is the benchmark banjo mandolin of the '20s. They're simple, no-frills, well-built, sound sweet but have good volume, and feel like a much more expensive instrument.
Work included: cleaning, fret dress, setup, and replacement bridge. This one's missing its tailpiece cover and I had to also replace two hook/nut sets with '20s parts-bin ones. Because of the sweet-sounding original skin head I only had to do slight dampening to get an ideal tone out of this banjo mando (usually I have to mute at the tailpiece and between the dowel and head to both slightly quiet and also mute overtones on most banjo mandos). The only dampening on here is a tiny piece of foam under the fretboard extension just to lightly mute overtones.
Bone nut, ebony veneer. Original tuners work well!
Bar frets, one replacement MOP dot. Ebony board. Note that on this '27 Vega the scale length is 13 3/4" rather than the 13 7/8" and 14" scale lengths seen on slightly earlier Vega Style Ks.
Original skin head looks handsome and is in good shape!
Misc. hardwood (rosewood? or similar) bridge from my bin, cut for this mando.
I always liked the mando-style tailpiece used on these fellas.
Good heavy-duty Vega hardware is abundant and in good shape. Note the tortoise binding on the bottom edge. Rim is multi-ply maple with a hoop-style tonering on top.
The proportions on these banjo mandos are just about perfect. They sit great in the lap.
Ebony heel cap. The neck may be mahogany.
As always, the good heavy-duty Vega-style neck brace is present.
Yessir, I love these guys.