1976 Martin-sold Vega Vox I Resonator Tenor Banjo

Even under new ownership (Martin bought Vega in 1970), Vega banjos were still upscale, quality instruments. This "Vega Vox I" is a top-tension resonator tenor banjo with a heavy-duty tonering and a great, Dixieland, chimey/sustained tone with plenty of oomph. The hooks-on-the-inside rim design also means it has a clean, comfortable outside feel and a bit of extra airspace in the resonator chamber itself. I dated this via comparison to other Vegas on the net and the serial (1195) places it roughly at 1976.

Like normal Vegas since the 50s, it has a coordinator-rod system like a Gibson "under the hood" which makes setup adjustments super-easy -- and a good setup was my only work on this one before handing it back to my customer. This has a long, 23" scale length and a fast, C-shaped neck. The rim fits a standard 11" head.

Chrome, chrome, chrome!

The owner turns all the tuners in one direction and so I left them that way. The truss works flawlessly.

Even though the frets truly need a level/dress job, I still managed to get action down to a fast 1/16" at the 12th fret without buzzing. This banjo has been in the owner's family since new, as far as I know, and her father played it hard before it went to her for more hard playing (the two of them play together, too).

The inlay is all pearl in an ebony board.

The individually-adjustable "finger lever" tailpiece is cute, though I had to replace a missing adjuster thumbscrew with something from the bins.

The maple resonator looks pretty spiffy.