Vintage Guitar - July 2016 - Open - 32
removable back panel with six nickel-plated flathead wood
screws. There is a volume and tone control as well as a 1/4"
phono output jack on the top side of the body in a rather
inconvenient spot. The word "DeLuxe" is penciled in
script on the interior of the body and the numeral "2"
is die-stamped on the inside of the back panel, inside
of the rim and inside of the top.
The pickup is a nickel-plated Vega horseshoetype, invented in 1930 by National founder George
Beauchamp and brought to market the next year in
a lap-steel guitar. In 1935, Vega debuted a similar
pickup, with individual pole pieces under the
strings and a wound coil, like modern units.
Instead of a small base magnet, the Beauchamp
pickup (and the Vega models) utilized two large
horseshoe-shaped permanent magnets that
surrounded the strings, making it a large, heavy
device. Gibson's smaller pickup, also introduced
in '35, had a single bar-type pole piece and two
magnets in the base superseded the Vega design
and led the way for Fender and others.
The Vega is difficult to hold steady in a playing
position - the mass of the tuners verses its overall
lightness results in a neck which constantly wants to
fall over and the roundness of the body exacerbates
Vega also sold "airplane cloth" covered hardshell cases
for its electric banjos. This example is housed in its original
case, which was priced at $18 and looks a Geib, though it's not
Among the many band publicity photos in the 1939 Vega catalog is
one of an electric banjo which resembles the specific features of this one;
Bud Hulslander's Gang was a group from San Francisco consisting of the