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AntiquiTone Vintage Guitars

1926 Vega Tu-Ba-Phone #9 Custom Plectrum Jazz Banjo

1926 Vega Tu-Ba-Phone #9 Custom Plectrum Jazz Banjo

Regular price $3,500.00 USD
Regular price Sale price $3,500.00 USD
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Vega Tu-Ba-Phone #9 Model Plectrum Banjo (1926), made in Boston, Mass., shaded maple finish, laminated maple neck and rim, ebony fingerboard, brown hard shell case.

This is an exceptionally interesting and genuinely fantastic Vega Plectrum 4-string, long neck banjo, which really is becoming increasingly rare. This specific example serves as a bridge between the more recent and older Vega lines of the 1920s. It's a spectacular banjo, with heavily engraved shaped pearl inlay in the bound ebony fingerboard, a lovely neck of laminated figured maple, engraved heel and headstock inlays, a crisply executed elaborate carved heel, and the inimitable Fairbanks/Vega Tu-Ba-Phone tone ring.

This banjo is labeled Tu-Ba-Phone #9 on the dowel; however, it shares features with both the Style X #9 tenor and the "Regular" 5-string #9. Depending on which Vega serial number charts are used, it dates between 1925 and 1927, though the features match the 1923 catalog specs with the addition of the Vega individual flanges and lovely pie-section resonator. The 4-string Plectrum Tu-Ba-Phone was a custom-order option separate from the new Vegaphone line at the time this was made, so it's entirely possible that someone simply requested this particular combination of features from both. The 10 7/8" rim is paired with a long 26 3/4' scale neck, which is identical to the 5-string version except for the upper peg and "hump" required.

This #9 model is similar, but not identical, to early Vegaphone Artist and Deluxe models. The rim hardware is not gold plated, and the inlay pattern is more elaborate and less symmetrical. Most #9s were built as openback instruments, but this one appears to have an original factory Vegaphone resonator and individual flanges that are decorated pieces similar to the Vegaphone Deluxe. If it was not custom ordered, it could have been re-fitted with this shortly after completion. The tuners are period Grover Patent geared pegs with pearl buttons; they are not original to the banjo. The tailpiece is the original Kersher 4-string.

This is an excellent example of what many consider to be the best "jazz" banjo ever produced, combining sweetness and power in equal measure. Although Vega banjos were among the most popular in the 1920s, this Style #9 was a very expensive instrument that is now quite rare in Plectrum form. While it lacks the "cut" of the tenor banjo due to its high A string, many players consider the Plectrum to be a more versatile instrument with a deeper, sweeter tone that is better suited to solo or small group chord/melody playing. It works perfectly in the 4-string "Chicago" (Guitar) tuning, and for the guitarist in need of a "double" instrument for early jazz settings, there is no better option than this fantastic instrument. Original bridge and case included.

Overall length: 37 1/2 in. (95.2 cm.)
Head Diameter: 10 7/8 in. (27.6 cm.)
Rim Depth: 3 in. (7.6 cm.)
Scale length: 26 3/4 in. (679 mm.)
Nut Width: 1 3/16 in. (30 mm.)
Serial Number: 75564

Excellent Condition

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