11/23/2012

c.1912 Vega Bowlback Mandolin




These Boston-made Vegas remain my favorite bowlback mandolins as far as American makes go. They have a sweet, precise, but very full tone that makes them useful for genres outside of mandolin orchestra and classical pieces. This one sounds particularly nice for Celtic or old-time fiddle tunes.

The serial stamped in the headstock top dates this instrument to 1912 and it's a fairly typical example of an earlier (pre-1920s) Vega bowlback in appointments and styling. I love the simple but elegant trim on this particular mando.


Work included some seam repairs to the bowl (though there had been 2 repairs previously) as well as some slight regluing of the fretboard extension over the body, a fret level/dress, cleaning, and full setup. It plays spot-on with a good straight neck and fast playability.


Nice Brazilian rosewood veneer on the headstock. Original bone nut.


Ebony fretboard with pearl dots. The original bar frets are (as typical) fairly low since that's how they were to begin with, but play beautifully.


Ebony bridge. I use 32w, 20w, 13, 9 gauge strings on old bowlbacks. This is the standard GHS "A240" set.


You've gotta love the herringbone top purfling with white binding as well as that super-pretty multicolored rosette.


The tailpiece cover was missing so I muted the extra string length at the tailpiece with a pad of leather. This cuts down on unwanted overtones and cleans the sound of the instrument up a great deal. Most mandolins like having some tailpiece-area muting!


She's a looker!

Oops, and forgot to mention that the scale is the usual 13 1/8" length.



Vega workmanship is right on par with Martins and Gibsons.



This has a nice Brazilian rosewood bowl.


Original Waverly tuners are lubed and ready to go.


The mahogany neck has a good, clean heel join.



All the hardware on this mando is original as well, which is nice to have.


Interior label.


The original, embossed leather case isn't in carry-ready shape but it works great for storage.

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