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Ken LeVan Longneck Vega Banjo Conversion - $1,250 (Brevard)

Ken LeVan Longneck Vega Banjo Conversion 1 thumbnailKen LeVan Longneck Vega Banjo Conversion 2 thumbnailKen LeVan Longneck Vega Banjo Conversion 3 thumbnailKen LeVan Longneck Vega Banjo Conversion 4 thumbnailKen LeVan Longneck Vega Banjo Conversion 5 thumbnailKen LeVan Longneck Vega Banjo Conversion 6 thumbnailKen LeVan Longneck Vega Banjo Conversion 7 thumbnailKen LeVan Longneck Vega Banjo Conversion 8 thumbnailKen LeVan Longneck Vega Banjo Conversion 9 thumbnailKen LeVan Longneck Vega Banjo Conversion 10 thumbnailKen LeVan Longneck Vega Banjo Conversion 11 thumbnail
condition: excellent
make / manufacturer: LeVan/Vega
model name / number: Longneck 5-String Banjo
This is one of two prototype longneck instruments the late Ken LeVan assembled in 2011 for me to see and play as we finalized specs for a banjo he would build for me. After we had our questions sorted and work was underway on my banjo, Ken apparently placed this one into storage in his home, only to have it turn up during a recent family search for something completely different.
The beefy neck is classic Ken with a fingerboard measuring 1.25” at the nut and 2” at the 25th fret, a center lamination and truss rod. The frets show virtually no wear, testifying to the build’s purpose. Ken added a maple veneer to the inside of the rim, probably for cosmetic reasons as it matches the striped maple of the dowel stick. As a result, no stamped serial number or yellow label is present to confirm its provenance, but the 10 15/16” head, the 15/16” width of the 24-hook bracket band, the rim laminations and the Tubaphone tone ring strongly suggest that the pot is that of a late Boston Vega.
The Waverly-style tailpiece is new and the banjo has a LeVan moon bridge. The bracket nuts are clean 5/16” aftermarket hardware, and the brackets vary in condition, with some being very clean overall and others showing some tarnishing. The plating on the tension hoop is in fine shape, and while there is shallow surface marring on the bracket band, it is still shiny overall with no rust through the plating. The armrest plating is worn in a couple of spots. I have re-tuned the frosted head to Ken’s 88.5 spec and the banjo is strung with fresh GHS PF150s. The tuners are older Pat Pend Grover Rotomatics with slot-head button screws and a Pat Pend non-geared Grover 5th string peg. Capo spikes have been added at +2, +5 and +7.
Ken wasn’t building spec banjos in 2011, and, as it appears he had no intention of listing this banjo for sale, its surfacing presents a bit of a quandry, i.e what to do with a banjo that likely would not meet Ken’s standards for cosmetic fit and finish yet would be an incredible waste to part out or god-forbid, discard? I already own two LeVan longnecks or I would absolutely offer to buy this from the family myself.
In consultation with the family, a price of $1,250 has been set for the banjo, which includes shipping to CONUS in the 1960s Lifton longneck case the banjo was stored in, and which I have refurbished to bring up to current expectations of protection. I’ll be happy to answer any questions from serious parties and provide additional photos.

post id: 7745619316

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