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1938 Vega C-75, Brazilian Rosewood
Serial #: 38531, gold Boston label
Body size at lower bout: 17" Scale length: 25" Nut Width: 1 3/4" Neck depth, 1st/10th frets: .86/.98
Materials: Hand graduated solid Adirondack spruce top; arched Brazilian rosewood back and sides; steel reinforced solid mahogany neck with triple centerstripe; solid ebony fingerboard with scribed Art Deco block inlays; checker bound body; ornate multi-segmented peghead inlay and logo.
Hardware: Original gold hardware includes Grover G-98 Sta-Tite tuners, trapeze tailpiece, bound Bakelite pickguard, adjustable compensated ebony bridge.
Notes: Patience pays off. But sometimes it takes awhile.
Prized for its superlative tone, incomparable appearance, and scarcity, Brazilian rosewood has been the gold standard for acoustic guitar builders for centuries. So where are all the Brazilian archtops?
With only the rarest of exceptions, Brazilian rosewood has almost never been employed by either major manufacturers or independent luthiers of archtop guitars. Several reasons suggest themselves. The first is cost: a carved archtop requires tonewood up to a full inch in thickness, to properly form the curve and recurve of the back alone. By contrast, a slab of Brazilian of this dimension might provide a half dozen or more back plates for flat tops or classical guitars.
Second is workability: the hard, dense and oily consistency of rosewood could put a mighty strain on rough-carving machines, and give cramps to the poor souls completing the graduation with hand planes. And last but not least, simple tradition: as fretted cousins of the violin family, archtops have traditionally been built with maple bodies, the more highly figured the better.
Though C.F. Martin did make a handful of F-series archtops with rosewood bodies, their flat back design never found favor with orchestra players, and many have been converted to flat tops over the years. But up in Boston, the Vega Musical Instrument Co apparently never got the memo, and went ahead and created a rosewood model with both an arched top and back. We'd seen a picture of one in a single prewar catalog, but never an actual example. Then out of the blue, this unicorn finally arrived: an original Vega C-75, almost fresh from the factory. It only took some 30 years to show up.
With its ultra-ornate 'Vegaphone' peghead inlay, hand engraved fingerboard blocks, and distinctive checkerboard binding, the C-75 was a premium offering in Vega's 'Advanced Model' series of 17" pro-sized orchestra guitars. An Art Deco masterpiece, this 'Artist's Special' model rivaled the presentation quality banjos upon which Vega had built its reputation for generations. This gleaming instrument is crafted of simply stunning straight grain Brazilian rosewood in the back and sides, with a fine-grained, hand graduated Adirondack spruce soundboard, and steel reinforced multi-ply mahogany neck.
Maintained in magnificent condition, the instrument has 100% original finish and hardware, with gold Grover G-98 Sta-Tite butterbean tuners, trapeze tailpiece, bound Bakelite pickguard, and adjustable compensated ebony 'Acoustic-Balanced' bridge. Without pick, buckle, thumb or fingerboard wear, the deep sunburst finish remains amazingly free of checking as well, with only a few incidental lacquer nicks. A single grinline crack in the bass side has been soundly resealed, and a short finish crack near the tailpiece is visible, but does not extend through the soundboard.
At a mere 4lb 15oz, the instrument is phenomenally light in weight, most especially for a full size 17" guitar. The voice is bright and forward, with brilliant projection and clarity, enhanced by the solid, vibrant rosewood body. Action is smooth and low, with fine original fretwork over a gentle D profile neck, generous 1 3/4" nut, and a fresh high precision setup on the solid ebony fingerboard.
A final plus, the instrument remains ensconced in its handsome original 'aircraft' tweed plushlined hardshell case. A pinnacle of Art Deco design, with the rarest and most coveted tonewood in the history of the instrument. One only: call now.
Setup: The frets have been precision levelled, recrowned and polished; 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.
Instruments /Accessories / Ordering / Tips