Deering has created two new old time banjos made from white oak for their Vega line. That’s right, the same species of hardwood more commonly used by coopers for barrel making, is now being utilized in banjo building.
And the same qualities that make the wood ideal for barrels, and for interior trim in homes around the world, seem to suit banjo building as well. The wood is light weight, but quite dense, and in the new Vegas it imparts a bright tone with clear and distinct notes, according to Deering’s testing.
They offer the new White Oak Vega in an 11′ and a 12” pot model. Both the rim and the neck are made from oak, and the 22 fret fingerboard (26.25” scale) is stained maple.
Deering artist Rick Barron gives a demonstration in this video.
The banjos are offered in a hard shell case with a lifetime warranty in the $2,000 range. Best of all, they weigh less than six pounds.
The Vega brand has been in circulation since the early 20th century, when the company purchased the rights to manufacture banjos from A.C. Fairbanks. They continued to market under the Fairbanks names for a decade or so in Boston, before re-branding as Vega. During the next 50 years they made exceptional banjos, prized to this day by both tenor and plectrum players, and old time enthusiasts alike. At different times they also made high grade brass instruments and guitars.
The company was sold to C.F. Martin in 1970, who made professional grade instruments under the Vega name until 1979. Deering revived the brand in 1989 and has been building fine old time instruments since that time in California.
You can find out more about the current Vega line at the Deering web site.