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Vega Vintage Star
 
Evie Ladin demonstrates the brand new cherry version of Deering’s open-back Vega Vintage Star banjo and compares it to the original maple instrument.
June 12, 2024
 

The Vega musical instrument company was originally founded in Boston in the late 1800s, and it began building banjos in the early 1900s. After going through several previous ownership changes, the Vega brand was purchased by Deering Banjos in 1989, and the California company has offered a line of high-quality banjos under the Vega name ever since. A couple of years ago, Deering introduced the Dobson tone ring-equipped Vega Vintage Star, and now the company has added a version of the open-back favorite built out of cherry wood, giving players a new option in addition to the original maple version. We recently had a chance to check out both Vintage Star models, and we got Peghead Nation clawhammer banjo instructor Evie Ladin to play the instruments.

The Vega Vintage Star is an open-back banjo with a 12-inch pot. Other than the choice of woods, the banjos are identical, with the maple version featuring a dark brown stain, while the cherry instrument is left with its natural, light-colored appearance. The Vintage Star features a three-ply rim, a beveled steel tension hoop, 24 flat J-hooks, and a wooden armrest. A crucial part of the banjo’s construction is found in its brass Dobson tone ring, a feature that is known for delivering a balanced sound with clear highs and great sustain. Both of our demo instruments had dramatically striped ebony fingerboards with a “scoop” above the 17th fret. Planetary Deering tuners, a Deering Knot-Less tailpiece, and a ⅝-inch Smile bridge round out the hardware selection. Both instruments showcased very clean construction and highly attractive materials, as well as a smooth hand-finished satin polyurethane finish. The Vintage Star comes stock with a Renaissance Low Crown head.

In this video, Evie demonstrates the new cherry version of the Vintage Star, and she also plays the maple version for comparison. Evie immediately liked the way the instrument’s finish felt, and she also commented on the shape of the neck. “The D-shape of the Deering-style neck is fairly narrow, in a good way; it’s not big and chunky,” she says. Evie demonstrates the banjo in a variety of tunings, she plays it with a capo, and she also tried it with a piece of foam stuck between the dowel rods and head, which she often does to focus the sound of her instruments a little. Both instruments offered great clawhammer tones, punch, and volume, with the cherry version perhaps a little bit warmer sounding and delivering a slight increase in sustain. 

The original maple Vega Vintage Star has already become a popular option for players looking for a great open-back banjo, and having an additional option with the new cherry version is good news for pickers who like having variety. 

To study banjo with Evie Ladin, enroll in her Clawhammer Banjo course now!

SPECS: Five-string open-back banjo. 12-inch pot with three-ply rim. Dobson tone ring. Cherry or maple construction. Beveled steel tension hoop. 24 flat J-hooks and ⁹/₃₂-inch hex nuts. Deering Smile bridge. Deering Knot-Less tailpiece. Renaissance Low Crown head. Striped ebony fretboard with frailing scoop. 26 ¼-inch scale. Deering planetary tuners, and Deering/Gotoh geared fifth-string tuner. Made in USA. $2,699 (cherry), $2,599 (maple).

Deeringbanjos.com

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    ● Courses
    ● Live Workshops
    ● Instructors
    ● Sample Lessons
    ● Notation Guide
    ● For Beginners
 
 
    ● Vintage Vault
    ● New Gear
    ● Fine Lutherie
 
 
    ● Workshops
    ● Advice
    ● Repertoire
 
 
    ● Recordings
    ● Events
    ● Breaking News
 
 
    ● In The Studio
    ● Live Onstage
    ● Backroom
 
 
    ● New Products
    ● Inside Look
    ● Performances
    ● Partner Pages
 
 
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