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EDIT: Man, beaten to the punch while composing my long-winded response!
48-3804 Vega (used, c. 1946) ?Duo-Tron? electric archtop guitar, Model C171, Serial Number 5416X, blonde, in very good plus condition with original hard shell case.
Vega brand archtop guitars are always interesting, always original, we sometimes wonder if any two were exactly alike. This guitar is an all blonde, spruce and maple, single soft cutaway, full-depth acoustic-electric, jazz f-hole archtop. It has a type of right-angle trapeze-style tailpiece utilized, as far as we can tell, only on Vega guitars, that has two white corrugated knobs with black diamond-shaped pointers, one that says ?Volume,? one that says ?Tone,? and an uncapped push-button that may be a tone control, and it had a late ?40s microphone type jack ? but our team of repairpersons has replaced that unusable jack with a standard phone jack and now it plays beautifully, amplified. The guitar exhibits normal signs of wear ? the usual light scratches, dings, mars, scrapes. It shows some incipient cracks in the plastic neck binding but the binding is neither loose nor deteriorating. The bound rosewood fretboard shows some light pitting from playing, and is inlaid with six block inlays starting from first fret and one dot inlaid at the 15th fret. Cr譥 bound headstock is inlaid ?VEGA? in block letters with a large star inlaid there under, and a coffin-shaped truss rod cover bordered in white that reads ?Duo-Tron Pat?d.? Tuners are Kluson Deluxe brand with metal buttons with the oil-hole ?O?. It has an eye-hook strap pin attachment mounted to the bass side of the neck heel, just as many John D?Angelico guitars have. The back of the neck is missing finish as one would see on any well-played guitar. This guitar has a single gold-colored metal covered pickup depending from the end of the fretboard, one corner of which is chipped away, leaving a small hole. It has a rosewood two-piece adjustable bridge which is likely original.
A red-white-red bordered interior paper label reads ?Vega, the Artist?s Choice as the Finest of All Instruments, Model C171, Serial No. 5416 (X below), Vega Company, Inc, Boston 16, Mass, USA.? Our initial thought was that Vega, a banjo company, may not have made this guitar in their own factory but instead subcontracted it from a company such as Gretsch or maybe Epiphone, but the guitar?s owner says: ?I have some original hard written documents concerning this instrument. It corresponds with two other online references I found for very similar models: http://www.archtop.com/ac_39vega_c56.html or this: http://eaglewings-eyrie.com/vega_archtop_guitar.htm Both suggest that Bill Nelson [the then president of Vega] was the manufacturer of this guitar and not a larger company as you suggest. The guitar [writes the owner ? we have no proof of any of this, no documentation whatsoever ? you, the reader, should consider it simply anecdotal] was originally sold by Bill Nelson of the (then) Vega-Nelson company to Brazilian classical guitarist Laurindo Almeida. My father-in-law bought it directly from Bill Nelson in late 1948 when Laurindo Almeida received a new guitar from Nelson. In turn my father-in-law played this guitar for the past 50+ years -- many of which with small trios in the New England area around Boston. So the guitar has been well used over the ensuing years. It was his pride and joy throughout the years. One additional piece of trivia is the pickguard (for all Vegas in this time period) were made from a type of polymer that my father-in-law designed and sold while he was with Monsanto Plastics. That's how he met Bill Nelson and subsequently came to own the guitar.? This is a handsome, interesting instrument and, with its original brown ?Bull?s Head?? whose slogans are: ?The Standard of Musicians for Over Sixty Years? and ?Protection of the Instrument is Paramount? hard shell case, it is quite the addition to the eclectic archtop collection at $2,159 or at our cash discount price, $2,095.