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1938 Vega C-50
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Serial #: 38 340, gold Boston label
Body size at lower bout: 16" Scale length: 25" Nut Width: 1 11/16"
Finish: Original sunburst finish, nitrocellulose type
Materials: Handcarved bookmatched solid spruce top; solid bookmatched flamed maple back and sides; solid Honduras mahogany neck; solid ebony fingerboard with vermillion centerstripe; pearl "shooting star" Vega peghead logo inlay; bound top, fingerboard and body; solid bone nut.
Hardware: Original hardware includes nickel Grover Sta-Tite open-back tuners with ivoroid buttons, nickel trapeze tailpiece, and adjustable Vega "Acoustic Balanced" ebony bridge. Vintage correct true bakelite art deco pickguard.
Notes: By the time Elmer Stromberg started building guitars in Boston, the Vega Company had been making instruments in that city for over a generation. One of the preeminent banjo manufacturers, Vega introduced its first archtop in 1933, and continued making top-flight hand carved instruments for several decades. This guitar is an outstanding example from their prime years, with a solid handcarved bookmatched spruce top, all original hardware, and a rare flamed mahogany back and sides.
Prewar Vegas are scarce enough, but the elusive C-50 is so rare that the present guitar is the only example of the model we have located to date. Offered for only a few years in the mid 30's, the C-50 sported a highly distinctive design, including a back and sides of highly figured mahogany, and a unique ebony fingerboard divided with a centerstripe of contrasting solid vermillion wood. Received from the family of the original owner, this example has been preserved in stunning condition, with all its original finish and hardware still bright and shiny. The dark Cremona sunburst is entirely original, and almost entirely free of pick, thumb or fingerboard wear, showing only a smallish patch of old buckle wear on the back. The instrument shows no cracks or repairs, and the gleaming finish is absent even the typical lacquer checking virtually universal in instruments of this vintage.
The solid spruce top is handcarved of extremely tight grained bookmatched spruce, and has been graduated to exceptionally fine tolerances. The original hardware includes nickel Grover Sta-Tite open-back tuners with ivoroid buttons, a nickel trapeze tailpiece, and the adjustable Vega "Acoustic Balanced" ebony bridge, with its abbreviated treble foot, The dramatically figured mahogany body lends a notable warmth and sweetness to the tone, and keeps the weight to an astounding 4lb 5oz (1.90kg), one of the lightest archtop guitars we have ever held. Accordingly, the sound is simply phenomenal, with volume and clarity surpassing instruments of far greater size. Action is low and smooth over fresh pro fretwork, and the gentle C neck profile is uncannily contemporary. With its elegant "shooting star" peghead, correct art-deco bakelite guard, and original Vega hardshell case, this very scarce guitar is a window into a lost world of elegant design, meticulous craftsmanship, and gorgeous full throated tone.
Setup: Bridge height adjusted; bridge compensation set; string slots at nut and bridge inspected and recut as necessary; bridge foot contour inspected and fit to top as necessary; bridge radius inspected and recurved as necessary; bridgewheels and tuners lubricated; fingerboard and bridge oiled; body and neck cleaned and hand polished.
This instrument is strung with medium gauge bronze strings (.013-.056). The guitar will accommodate lighter or heavier gauge strings, according to preference. String action is set at 5/64" to 6/64" at the 12th fret, with moderate relief for acoustic playing with medium strings. The action may be lowered or raised to your requirements with the adjustable bridge.
Case: Original Vega black hardshell case.