Vega Tu-ba-phone Banjo

Vega Tu-ba-phone Banjo

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Description

This banjo was made by the Vega Company in Boston, Massachusetts, around 1922. It is a Four-String Banjo, Tu-ba-phone Model No. 3, Serial #50232, with a patented brass top hoop and bracket band over a seven-lap sectional maple hoop, 28 brackets, mahogany neck with an ebony fingerboard with22 frets and inlaid pearloid dots and star position marks, carved heel, peghead with flowerpot inlay, Grover style tuners with ivoroid buttons. The dowel stick is stamped:

[Vega star]
FAIRBANKS BANJO
MADE BY
THE VEGA COMPANY
BOSTON, MASS.
[Vega star]
NO. 3
PAT.
Dec 30.1890
JAN 10.1893
JULY 27.1909

(and):

TU-BA-PHONE

This banjo features the following patents:

U. S. Patent #443510 dated December 30, 1890, by Albert C. Fairbanks, for new and useful improvements in banjos.

U. S. Patent #489470 dated January 10, 1893, by Albert C. Fairbanks, for new and useful improvements in banjos.

U. S. Patent #928948 dated July 27, 1909, by David L. Day, assignor to the Vega Company, for an improved means for stretching and retaining the head of a banjo.

The Vega Company purchased the A. C. Fairbanks Company in 1904 and produced banjos of high quality largely based on earlier designs of Fairbanks. This Tu-ba-phone model incorporated a heavy “tone ring” originally patented by Fairbanks in 1890, a feature still favored by modern banjo players for the quality of tone it produces.

Location
Currently not on view
Object Name
banjo
Date made
1909-1925
date made
ca 1922
maker
Vega Company
place made
United States: Massachusetts, Boston
Physical Description
maple (overall material)
ebony (overall material)
mahogany (overall material)
metal (overall material)
animal skin (overall material)
Measurements
overall: 37 1/2 in x 11 1/2 in x 2 1/2 in; 95.25 cm x 29.21 cm x 6.35 cm
ID Number
1987.0055.01
catalog number
1987.0055.01
accession number
1987.0055
Credit Line
Gift of Adam Gallan
See more items in
Cultural and Community Life: Musical Instruments
Music & Musical Instruments
Banjos
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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