Vega Guitars

1939 Vega C-56

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Vega Guitars

Founded in 1881 by Swedish immigrant Julius Nelson, C.F. Sunderberg, Mr. Swenson, and several other men. Nelson was the foreman of a 20-odd man workforce (which later rose to 130 employees during the 1920s banjo boom). Nelson, and his brother Carl, gradually bought out the other partners, and incorporated in 1903 as Vega (which means ´star´). In 1904, Vega acquired banjo maker A.C. Fairbanks & Company after Fairbanks suffered a fire, and Fairbank´s David L. Day became Vega´s general manager.

Vega built banjos under the Bacon trademark, named after popular banjo artist Frederick J. Bacon. Bacon set up his own production facility in Connecticut in 1921, and a year later wooed Day away from Vega to become the vice president in the newly reformed Bacon & Day company. While this company marketed several models of guitars, they had no facility for building them. It is speculated that the Bacon & Day guitars were built by the Regal company of Chicago, Illinois.

In the mid-1920s, Vega began marketing a guitar called the Vegaphone. By the early 1930s, Vega started concentrating more on guitar production, and less on banjo making.

Vega debuted its Electrovox electric guitar and amplifier in 1936, and a electric volume control footpedal in 1937. Vega is reported to have built over 40,000 guitars during the 1930s.

In the 1940s, Vega continued to introduce models such as the Duo-Tron and the Supertron; and by 1949 had become both a guitar producer and a guitar wholesaler as it bought bodies built by Harmony.

In 1970, Vega was acquired by the C.F. Martin company for its banjo operations. Martin soon folded Vega´s guitar production, and applied the trademark to a line of imported guitars.

Ten years later, Martin sold the Vega trademark rights to a Korean guitar production company (source: Tom Wheeler, American Guitars).

"Vega guitars are becomin increasingly collectible and can bring some good money for the right model. Look for more information in further editions of the Blue Book of Acoustic Guitars."

1939 Vega C-56

Serial #: 39007, gold Boston label

Body size at lower bout: 17".

Scale length: 25" Nut Width: 1 10/16"

Finish: Original sunburst finish, nitrocellulose type

Materials: Handcarved bookmatched solid spruce top; bookmatched fiddleback flame maple back and sides; solid mahogany neck with 3-piece centerstripe; Macassar ebony fingerboard with variegated mother of pearl inlay; ornate pearl shooting star peghead inlay; bound fingerboard; triple-bound top

Hardware: Original Vega hardware including adjustable "Acoustic-Balanced" asymmetrical bridge, open-back nickel Grover Stat-Tite tuners, original bound tortoise pickguard, nickel trapeze tailpiece with Brazilian rosewood crossbar.

Notes: By the time Charles Stromberg started building guitars in Boston, the Vega Company had been making instruments in that city for over a generation. One of the preeminent banjo manufacturers, Vega introduced its first archtop in 1933, and continued making top-flight hand carved instruments for several decades. The C-56 model was Vega's most popular professional guitar, and this example from 1939 exhibits a particularly attractive set of design features unique to that year only. The first 17" body version, the 1939 C-56 also debuted the Martin style squared headstock, and was the last year to feature solid pearl inlays, including the elegant shooting star on the peghead.

This guitar is an exceptionally fine example from their prime years, with a solid handcarved bookmatched spruce top, a steel reinforced neck, and a handsome deeply quilted maple back. The guitar has been preserved in remarkable condition, with its original plush-lined case, and is notably free of pick, buckle or thumbwear. We've added a fresh set of frets over a perfectly leveled fingerboard, so she plays like a new guitar, with a particularly slim and comfortable neck profile. The solid spruce top is exceptionally light and finely carved, with a sound that is clear, open and well balanced. A rare and stylish instrument, the Vega is one of the best kept secrets of the archtop world, and an outstanding value in a true hand built guitar.

Setup: The frets have been precision leveled, recrowned and polished; trussrod tension and neck relief adjusted; bridge height adjusted; bridge compensation set; string slots at nut and bridge inspected and recut as necessary; bridge foot contour inspected and fit to top as necessary; bridge radius inspected and recurved as necessary; bridgewheels and tuners lubricated; fingerboard and bridge oiled; body and neck cleaned and hand polished.

This instrument is strung with medium gauge bronze strings (.013-.057). The guitar will accommodate lighter or heavier gauge strings, according to preference. String action is set at 5/64" to 6/64" at the 12th fret, with moderate relief for acoustic playing with medium strings. The action may be lowered or raised to your requirements with the adjustable bridge.

Case: Original Vega plushlined hardshell case.

Price: $1795/$1850


Buying A Guitar From A Pawn Shop

One of the most important things to remember when considering the purchase of a guitar, no matter where it comes from, is the price. The pawnshop can be thought of as the world's oldest financial institution. It can be traced to ancient China, when merchants would hold collateral and heirlooms in exchange for rice. Here, we will give you a little insight to not purchasing a "pig," as pawn shops call merchandise that is virtually unsellable and based on luck of an inexperienced buyer.

Buying A Guitar From A Pawn Shop