Dating fairbanks vega banjos
Banjos in my current collection are listed alphabetically by manufacturer or brand name. Fairbanks (by Vega) "Tubaphone" #3, 5-string banjo, S/N 26126, Circa 1910 A. Fairbanks (by Vega) "Tubaphone" #9, 5-string banjo, S/N 27062, Circa 1911 George Washburn" 5-string banjo, model 421 custom, Circa 1892 "George Washburn" 5-string ladies banjo, model 421 custom, S/N 390, Circa 1892 "George Washburn" 5-string banjo, model 442, S/N 328, Circa 1892 "George Washburn" 5-string banjo, S/N1095, Circa 1897 "George Washburn" (by Cole) 5-string banjo, S/N 6, Circa 1900 "George Washburn" Improved model 565, 5-string banjo, S/N 8027, Circa 1915 "George Washburn" Improved model 5100, 5-string banjo, S/N 8295, Circa 1915 S. Stewart fretless presentation banjo, S/N 2073, Circa 1866 S. Stewart "Universal Favorite" flush-fret 5-string banjo, S/N2865, Circa 1886 S. Stewart "Orchestra" fretless 5-string banjo, S/N 3321, Circa 1887 S. I have recently added a page on Fairbanks/Vega engraved inlay evolution for those interested in how this particular art form developed over the years and through the transition from Fairbanks to Vega ownership.
In a letter he wrote to Mandolin Brothers, Dave Guard says he purchased his "Pete Seeger model Vega banjo 99836 brand new in 1959" (note: this instrument can be seen as early as the EP "Tijuana Jail" which was released in April of 1959). Bush says in his June 1984 Frets Magazine cover story about the Kingston Trio that Dave purchased this instrument in "late 1958." And while not stating his source, author Neil Rosenberg says in his book "Bluegrass--A History" that the Vega Pete Seeger model was introduced in 1958.Before the bracket shoe band was mounted, however, the bracket shoes were mounted to it via flat-head screws that fit flush to the the inner surface of the band via countersunk screw holes. No unsightly screw heads and washers on the inside surface of the rim.More important (according to early Vega literature), the "tonal integrity" of the rim was preserved (i.e.According to Mike Longworth at the Martin Guitar Company (which purchased the Vega Company in May of 1970), Vega's records were very sketchy and did not include specific information as to when the Pete Seeger model was introduced.But given the sources mentioned (Guard, Vega literature, Bush, Rosenberg), I believe that the Vega Pete Seeger model became a standard production item in 1958 (but after March 1), and that Dave Guard was one of its first purchasers--either in late 1958 or early 1959.Since my interest in banjos stems in part from my interest in the technological development of the instrument over the years, my collection spans the period from the 1840s to the 1920s.
As my collection evolves, banjos presented on the home page of this site may be removed and added to a "banjos I previously owned" page.
by not having bracket shoe screw holes drilled through it).
Opinions vary about which Vega instrument had the better sound, the Tubaphone or the Whyte Laydie.
This device eliminated the need for drilling bracket shoe screw holes in the rim.
Here's how it worked: First, the bottom outer face of the rim was milled away the approximate thickness of the bracket shoe band to allow the bracket shoe band to be slipped on, flush with the upper, unmilled portion of the rim.
On Bob Gibson's second and third LPs, "I Come For To Sing" and "Carnegie Concert," both released in 1957, the cover photos show him with a long neck Vega open-back banjo with a squared-off peghead, side tuners and "block and dot" inlays on the fingerboard.