9/21/2012

c.1919 Vega Flatback Mandolin


According to its serial number, this Vega mandolin was made in 1919. It's quite an attractive instrument and in fine shape, with no cracks and clean finish. I received this mandolin in trade from Mr. Bruce out in Maine, and it came to me in good shape, though I did do a light fret level/dress and setup at the nut and bridge to get it "right on the dot."

Vegas are really well-built instruments, and in my opinion on at least the mandolin family, the equal or better of Martin and Larson products. This one is interesting in that it has a longer scale than earlier Vega bowlback products, at 13 3/4" -- which means the tension at a given string gauge is around the same one would find on a Gibson. This gives it a more "modern" feel and a little bit more punch and tuning stability when it's banged-on.


The top is solid spruce with a canted top and the back, sides, and neck of this mandolin are solid mahogany with a dark finish.


Original bone nut, lovely rosewood-veneered headstock.


Ebony fretboard with pearl dots.


This has a nice, "rope" style rosette with fine multi-ply binding around the soundhole. The pickguard is inlaid into the top.


The ebony bridge (original) has a nicely-applied shim on its foot, from previous luthier work.


This tailpiece is unoriginal but was made beautifully out of ebony with a "book" style cutout reminiscent of the headstock shape. I forget who Bruce told me did the work, but it was well done and well-thought-out.


Here's a detail of some of the nice binding/purfling.



This has a thin, semi-gloss/satiny sort of finish of the type Martins typically came with during the time.




Nice, plain mahogany back.


Good Waverly tuners with ivoroid buttons.


The heel has an overlapping, "Spanish"-looking join, with cool recessed edging.


I like the copper screws used for mounting the tailpiece and also the classy strap exit.


Vega label in soundhole.



This came with its original, pinky-purple-lined hard case, in great shape.

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