The Vega Senator banjo is the perfect “crossover” and parlor banjo. It is a light-weight, classic open back banjo, with a warm, woody tone with a lightweight tone ring that adds just enough punch and high-end clarity to play bluegrass with your buddies but warm, fat and woody enough to play in your parlor as a classic clawhammer or fingerstyle solo instrument.
The Vega Senator is built around the famous Whyte Laydie modified tone-ring used on the historic early 20th century Vega Senator banjo. The Senator was an “economy” version of the full Whyte Laydie versions that was modified into a simpler Spun-Brass-and-rod tone-ring to save money and fit into a price point. It turned out that this lighter weight tone ring was a tonal success and this banjo has become a favorite of collectors.
The Vega Senator has become favored choice of old-time / clawhammer and fingerstyle players looking for a lightweight banjo with top-end clarity and snap normally not heard on a typical open back wood ring banjo…but also a lovely round tone with enough ring and sustain up the neck to play bluegrass but without the back-breaking weight of a typical Bluegrass instrument.
The Deering Vega Senator uses a lightweight brass tone-ring; the upper section of the Whyte Laydie tone ring. This keeps the banjo down to a mere 5.8 pounds but still has enough mass to give good clarity and sustain as one plays up the neck but warmer trebles and fatter basses in the first position typical of most clawhammer banjos.I find myself comparing it to the Deering Vega #s, with tub-a-phone tone ring: not as pretty a banjo but certainly comparable from tonal and build quality and ½ the price and far lighter weight.
The Vega Senator by Deering is certainly a full-blown professional quality banjo… ideal for old-time music, both finger style and clawhammer, folk music, civil war era, ragtime and for classical turn-of-the-century parlor music. With bare fingers up close to the board it warms right up as if it was strung with gut strings. But that said, it has significantly more sustain than one would expect from many clawhammer banjos due to the mass of Senator tone ring.
PRICING: $1989 Canadian dollars, or $1566 US dollars, based on 1.27% exchange rate.
NOTE: Exchange rates change daily!
A Deering hardshell, archtop case is included.
Check out Grant’s Banjo Setup Q&A
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