c.1921 Fairbanks by Vega Style K Banjo Mandolin

Another Vega banjo-mando gem, almost identical to this (also recent) 1920 style K banjo mando. The old '20s Vegas are the best banjo-mandos out there -- they have unfailingly sweet tone -- which is especially important on an instrument that can be really brash and unforgiving a lot of the time.

This one dates by its serial to 1921 and features a solid mahogany neck, maple pot with a hoop style tonering, ebony fretboard, and all-original fittings except for its bridge and head.

Bone nut, ebony headstock veneer. Original tuners work great. Strings are 28w-22w-12-09 (this lighter-than-normal gauge is best for banjo mandos).

MOP dots. Some stable hairline cracks in the ebony board. These are bar frets.

It's certainly a cute little thing. The head is a newer Remo frosted-on-top synthetic head.

Usually I use a heavier, more mandolin-style bridge when I setup banjo mandolins. This time I went for a lighter-weight banjo style bridge (1/2" maple/ebony Grover) and opted to mellow the instrument out a little bit with a mute for the extra string length under the tailpiece and a very small pad of foam pressed up against the head under the fretboard extension. Both of these remove overtones and harsh "ping" in the same manner that a lot of modern drum heads use a rubber gasket around the outer edge of the head to slightly mute overtones on snares and toms.

It's a beautiful little no-frills instrument -- and the matching in terms of finish/stain between the maple and the mahogany is first rate.

All-original hardware means every hook, nut, and shoe is heavy-duty, quality Vega stuff.

Good solid heel and good-quality, easily-adjustable neck brace.

Both the neck and pot serials match.

Did I mention the band of tortoise binding on the bottom edge of the pot? Classy addition.

...and the neck also has some subtle flame to the mahogany.

Desirable tailpiece cover still in place.

...and it has its original "side saddle" case -- though the bottom flap needs some attention if it's to be used for anything than storage.


Anonymous said...

How much?????

Julie said...

What size is the head? I've inherited this and am working on restoring it. Thank you.