c.1918 Vega Little Wonder Banjo Mandolin

For regular blog followers -- you already know how much I like Vegas, so it's no surprise that I find this "Little Wonder" variant of the Vega banjo-mando intoxicating. It's got tons of volume but a clear, direct, and open voice -- really nice. It's not as warm as the Style Ks but has killer projection and clarity. This one is also 100% original, right down to the compensated maple bridge. It is missing its Waverly "cloud" tailpiece cover, though.

My work included: fret level/dress, cleaning, and general setup.

These "Little Wonder" banjo-mandos feature a 2-piece hard maple neck with center strip, multi-ply maple pot with tortoise-bound bottom edge, tons of hooks with excellent Vega rim hardware (28 on this one), a bound ebony fretboard, and the proprietary (and very popular) "Little Wonder" tonering which is a bigger brass hoop enclosed in a spunover "sleeve."

This has a full 14" scale length which means the ultra-light strings (that I use on banjo mandos, because that's what they should have for best tone and feel -- the GHS A240 set gauged 32w-9) have good tension and nice tuning stability.

The original skin head is in good shape and tightens up nicely. This is a 10" diameter head, typical on these guys.

Dyed headstock veneer. I had to shim up the original bone nut (and then recut the slots slightly) because the slots had been cut too deep.

Good ebony board with "bar" frets and ivoroid binding. Pearl dot markers.

The original, compensated maple bridge is in great shape and the action is perfectly spot on (I had to shim the top of the heel joint slightly to re-use this tallish old bridge).

Because the tailpiece cover is missing, I installed some extra-string-length muting material under the strings rather than under the tailpiece cover. Muting the extra-string-length (ie, behind the bridge string length) is very important on banjo mandolins, since it removes distracting overtones that detractors of the instrument find irritating.

Look at all that nice hardware! Aside from one rusted-up hook, the rest are in great shape, with slight tarnish here and there.

This side of the hard-maple neck has some cute flame in it.

Good, high-quality Vega hardware. Check out how the nuts are covered on the end... a nice touch! The tortoise-colored celluloid binding on the bottom of the rim is classy, too.

Tuners are Waverly brand and lubed.

Nice, 3-piece heel cap adds a minimalist "fancy" detail.

Matching serial numbers point to a 1918 date of this instrument.

Someone was a joker... usually these skin heads read "Joseph Rogers" for the famous head-maker, but someone has scrubbed that bit out and written in "Florence Roberts" instead!

Just a nice, attractive, quality instrument.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have a Vega Little Wonder with the number 71412. I would like to know it's age.