Dating fairbanks banjos
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As Seeger explains in his book, "The Incompleat Folksinger": Well, it was like this. About four or five years ago the Vega banjo company of Boston called me to say they'd received several requests to make banjos with especially long necks (an idea I got in 1942 when trying to play "Viva La Qunice Brigada" in the C minor position [i.e.
first position, C tuning], which was a bit too high to sing). (It should be noted that Seeger later donated this instrument to "Sing Out!
Similarly, I have seen photos of Peggy Seeger playing a long-neck Vega with the same inlay pattern (eg. Later, however, she switched and acquired the first long-neck Vega Pete Seeger model."Given their peghead shape and inlay pattern, which differ considerably from those commonly associated with the Pete Seeger model, I believe that these were custom and not official "Pete Seeger Model" instruments.
in Pete Seeger's book, "How to Play the 5-String Banjo," Third Edition Revised, 1962, pg. So the question is: Were Bob Gibson's and Peggy Seeger's banjos official "Pete Seeger" models or custom instruments made by Vega before the company secured Pete Seeger's permission to use his name on a long-neck model? (According to Walter Scott, Peggy Seeger's banjo utilized a high-end Tubaphone pot with ornate abalone rim trim.
In an article about Peggy Seeger published in the book "Artists of American Folk Music," the author says: "One of the ideas gleaned from her half-brother [Pete] was that of playing a long-neck banjo. Based on that information alone it is safe to assume that her banjo was not an official Pete Seeger model but an earlier, custom instrument.The earliest Vega literature I have found that mentions the Pete Seeger model is a company price list dated March 1, 1958, which lists the following available models: "Ranger, Tenor or 5-string; Ranger, special, with heavy notched hoop and gear pegs; Little Wonder, with gear pegs; Professional; Vega-Vox I; Vega-Vox III; Vega-Vox IV; Pete Seeger Model, 5 string, extra long neck, 3 extra frets, no resonator, on special order...295.00" This seems to indicate that the Pete Seeger Model was not a standard production model as of that date.