Vega Instrument catalogs? what's what?

  1. DerTiefster
    Well, folks, has anyone any images of Vega catalogs they'd like to post here in the local group? I've been trying to find info about various scale length, widths, and so forth, for the Vega cylinderback mando-family instruments. Here's what I have so far:

    mandolins -- scale 13-5/8", width 10-1/4" to 10-3/8", and body depth 2-1/2" to 3"-ish. Overall length 25"

    mandolas -- scale 15", width 11-1/2", body depth 3-3/16", overall length 27"

    hybrid mandola-mandolin (5-course) sort of like mandola but with more strings

    There are longer and deeper instruments. The Milwaukee Mandolin Orchestra appears to be relatively loaded with Vegas including mandocello and mandobass. What are the dimensions and pitches of such instruments as you know?

    Thanks for all contributions. The only catalog pages I have copies of are partials from an ebay auction of a banjo catalog. A few abbreviated mando-family instruments are pictured, with precious little detail available. Some of this august crowd may have info they're willing to share.
  2. DerTiefster
    OK. Maybe someone besides me hadn't found this. Here is a site maintained by someone who markets CD copies of catalogs. There are some vega instruments (175 entries, I think) in his list. Most, if not all, have images associated with them. His information claims that for the Vega cylinderback instruments:
    1) mandolins have 8 strings (2xx series instruments)
    2) mandolas have 8 strings (3xx series instruments)
    3) the 5-course mandolin-sized (13+" scale) instruments are "mandola-mandolins" and were designated by 12xx model numbers
    4) the 5-course mandola-sized (15" scale) instruments are "mandolin-mandolas" and bore 13xx model numbers
    5) the 4-course mandocello (26" scale?) is designated by 4xx model numbers (403/404)
    6) there is a 5-course "Octavo-mandolin/mandocello" with 14xx model number and presumably the mandocello scale length

    The site is and you can type in the Vega manufacturer and get 175 entries in your list. In that list, most of the cylinder back instruments show up as entries 27-32 from a catalog from about 1915, with some showing up later (chronological order by catalog) from a 1930 catalog.

    bobtheuke pointed out that Bernunzio's had some catalog reprints on paper that they market, and he bought several of them. I, prompted by his information, bought a copy of a 1920s catalog. I'm happy with it. They also have a reprint of a 1932 and a 1939 catalog, along with reprints of -many- other instrument catalogs. By the way, as of this writing, the prices on many listed as "reduced" considerably from "regular" pricing.
  3. citrina86
    Related to this old post, does anyone know of a source for the catalog reprint that was the basis for the photos of the Vega 10-string models on the Musica Viva web site? The catalog is referenced as "Vega Mandolins and Guitars" 1915a. Elderly Instruments used to carry it but apparently it has been discontinued. I've checked a half dozen or more other sites of dealers that sell reprints or provide electronic downloads, and I've made numerous Internet searches over the past few months (including eBay) with no luck. Thanks!

  4. DerTiefster
    Did you check Bernunzio's Uptown Music? I got a 1920 reprint there. MusicaViva will sell you a digitized copy of the catalog they used, if I understand their business model correctly.
  5. Eddie Sheehy
    Unfortunately VEGA didn't see fit to put the model number anywhere on the instrument... so from the post above I assume that my 10-string mandola/mandolin 15" scale is a 1305 (Brazilian Rosewood B&S, Ornate Pickguard and tailpiece cover, ornate fret markers)?
  6. DerTiefster
    Eddie, That's how I read the catalog entries. If you want for me to try to scan the appropriate page(s) for you, just ask. It won't be photographic quality, though....
  7. Eddie Sheehy
    But then I wouldn't have an excuse to annoy you every time I need the info...
  8. citrina86
    Thanks for your help with this. Unfortunately Bernunzio does not carry the 1915 catalog (one of the first places I checked), nor does Musica Viva. Frustrating. I'll just keep looking. Anyway, regarding the models, I've been trying to sort that out too. I have what I believe is a 205 with a Brazilian rosewood back and sides & solid headstock with 3 bumps. The early 20s guitar and mandolin catalog I have gives the specs for a 205 as maple. But after looking at a number of examples on the web I'm guessing they simply changed the specs around 1919. All the rosewood ones I've seen seem to be before about 1919 (mine is 1917-18) with all maple-backed ones after that (which also all seem to have headstocks with a hole in them). Some of the earlier rosewood ones have Handel tuners, but it seems those were discontinued about the same time they were dropped from the Gibson F-4s. I also saw one plain example (like a 202 or 203) with a rosewood back and sides that I'd guess was an early version of a 203. It was dated 1918, which would fit with the pattern of the 205s it they (the 203s) also switched from rosewood to maple about 1919. On a side note, this reminds me of Stephan Sobell's switch to maple backed mandolins after making mostly (I think) rosewood models for years). Does this fit with what you've seen or am I missing something?
  9. DerTiefster
    My catalog says the 201 is a flat-backed instrument. The 202 is a bound-on-front instrument. The 203 is a bound-front-and-rear instrument. All of the above have plain pick-guards, round fretboard markers, and un-enclosed tuners. The fancier elliptical/engraved markers and enclosed tuners are marks of the 205/207 lines. But there are half-plate (whatever) and full-plate headstock treatments, different woods, and some very fancy binding (abalone vs. MOP) that show up differently in different years. One catalog apparently shows a 204 model between the 203 and 205 (or maybe -as- the 205, a predecessor?) The mandola sized 3xx instruments and the 5-course 1xxx numbers show up, too. And then there are 5 or more bowl-back trim levels.

    @citrina86: you have the serial no., I assume, and that's where you get your target date? Do you have pics posted on the cafe? Dimensions to go with the descriptions? I'd not have known I have a mandola but for the scale length being too long for the mandolin. I'll be on the look out for pics from you.
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