Vega (used, 1963) Pete Seeger long neck banjo

Tag No 39-1850 Used

#A102140, in very good condition with newer black hard shell case.

This banjo, following our professional set-up, will be in very good condition.  It has a red interior, black exterior hard shell excellent condition form-fitting case that looks old but is probably newer than the instrument.   The Vega Pete Seeger model is a legendary instrument for which there really is no precise substitute (other perhaps than a new Vega Long Neck by Deering – but we’re referring to “from the original folk revival period” if you wish to revel in that early 1960s Folk Era mood.   An excellent and comprehensive discussion of this model banjo can be found at this link:  http://www.lazyka.com/linernotes/OddsAndEnds/VegaPeteSeeger.htm

In it, the author, Pete Curry, begins with a published conversation with Pete Seeger on how this instrument was first developed.  He prefaces the Pete part by saying:  “The Vega Pete Seeger model 5-string banjo came into being during the 1950s as a result of requests that the Vega Company received for an extended-neck banjo like the one Pete Seeger played. As Seeger explains in his book, The Incompleat Folksinger: ‘Well, it was like this. It was payola. About four or five years ago the Vega banjo company of Boston called me to say they'd received several requests to make banjos with especially long necks (an idea I got in 1942 when trying to play "Viva La Qunice Brigada" in the C minor position [i.e. first position, C tuning], which was a bit too high to sing).   Vega asked, “Could we officially call it 'the Pete Seeger Model'?"   "It would be an honor," says I.’”    Anybody with serious interest in this model banjo must read that article – the author covers just about any question one can think of to ask.     Take, for example, these quotes:

“As of this writing I have been unable to determine exactly when the first official ‘Vega Pete Seeger’ models were produced. But we have some clues.  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.  In a letter he wrote to Mandolin Brothers, Dave Guard says he purchased his "Pete Seeger model Vega banjo 99836 brand new in 1959" Author William J. 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.”   “The earliest Vega catalog featuring the Pete Seeger model that I have is dated Feb. 1, 1960. According to this catalog, this model was fitted with a "5 Star calfskin head." However, it goes on to say: "Plastic head optional at same price if desired." 

Curry discusses nearly every aspect, including tone ring, coordinator rods, neck finish, tuners, other hardware, logo inlays, serial numbering, Vega prices and how many banjos Vega made in this time period.    Yes, of course we consider ourselves incorrigible banjo nerds, but we love this stuff.   

This banjo’s headstock is the traditional multi-cut that comes to a point at the center top, and has the “V E G A” logo in individual block letters with a single star inlaid below.  The original black plastic truss rod cover is spear-point in shape and held by three screws; the ebony fingerboard that’s inlaid with 10 mother of pearl dotmarkers is bound in crème ivoroid on two sides.  It has four unsigned geared tuners on its headstock with grained ivoroid buttons, and its original friction fifth string tuner with the same button.  The back of the neck is maple on the extremes with a center laminate (for strength) of what might be walnut or pearwood – and shows normal hand wear; the original nut is bone; the heel cap is apparently ebony but it is chipped; there are chips in the sunburst finish at the heel of the neck, especially near the body joint, on the headstock at around the heel cap and in other places as well.  The frets appear to be low and flat and the ebony fretboard shows some finger erosion, yet it plays beautifully and sounds marvelous.   The flip-open tailpiece and armrest appear to be original, although there is arm wear on the latter.

The plated metal parts (stretcher band, tone ring and bracket band) show cloudiness –we will clean it, but it will not be completely removed.  The original Mylar “Vegalon” head is dirty from skin oils and pinky contact but it remains intact.  This banjo has the one large aluminum coordinator rod and the smaller threaded rod ahead of it.  The 11” diameter 34-hole Tu-Ba-Phone tone ring that resides inside works like a charm, and most importantly it retains it’s long, rectangular yellow interior label (inside the rim) that states “The Vega Co., Boston 16, Mass, Patented U.S.A., No. A-102140, Model (hand-written but faded) ‘Pete Seeger’.”  “To remove neck:  loosen large nut and rod nuts. Do not change socket screws in rim as these are set for proper string action.” 

We present to you an original example of a Vega Pete Seeger long neck banjo from 1963, with a proper but newer hard shell case, that has been set-up and made ready for another 50 years of professional use (“Join me kids!”) in the hands of an inveterate folkie, Peter Seegerite, or Kingston Trio Re-Enactor.   

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