1925 Vega Tubaphone No.9
© Frank Ford, 2000; Photos by FF
Clearly, the two most favored "old time" five string banjos are Vega/Fairbanks models: the famous "Whyte Laydie" and "Tubaphone." Both instruments are distinguished by their unique tone rings. The Tubaphone, so named because it has a tone ring with a square tubular cross section, was Vega's last real development in tone production. Introduced around 1909, the Tubaphone tone ring was used on all the best subsequent model Vega banjos until the demise of the company in 1970.
This "No. 9" was the fanciest model made at the time, only superseded later by the "DeLuxe" which was essentially identical with the addition of gold plated engraved metal parts, and an abalone cap on the back of the shell. No mistaking the fancy features: engraved pearl inlay, fiddleback maple, colored laminations, wood marquetry, and carving.
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