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To unravel most of the curious mystery of the legendary Bobby Joe Fenster, please scroll back on the homepage to the Sept.12, 2014 posting devoted to this interesting figure from the annals of Vega Martin banjo history. Barry The Vega Vox model was a 4 string gem that featured a brass tone ring.The resonator was hand-painted, and fancy engraved pearl inlays adorned the ebony fingerboard. Martin was winding-down its banjo production, the metal engraving was subcontracted to Liberty Banjos. Ron from everyone at the BRC for providing representative images typical of this historic crowning jewel (see below correspondences #24). I have been unable to find out anything on the web concerning this banjo.The peg head engraving and paint motif matched the resonator. The owner of the store I purchased it from told me it was made by Martin.1969, probably initially at the 40 Leon Street factory the Needham Heights (just before the sale to Martin).
The `Martin Guitars: A Technical Reference` confirms that the BJF-5 banjo was a thinly disguised Pro-5 not unlike yours .Although the Martin Company did not manufacture Vega banjos till a century later, a solitary banjo from the mid 19th century is appended to the exhibit to display parallel innovation in the instrument because of its increasing popularity during that era (see close-up photo). Martin briefly built a lightweight tenor banjo between 1923-26 to compete with Vega and other manufacturers whose heavier and more popular banjos had greater tone, volume, and sales. The back of the peghead of these rare banjos is imprinted with a C. Data from these logbooks are available per e-mail request from the BRC founder.This 5-stringer was manufactured circa 1845 in Baltimore, MD, by luthier William Boucher, Jr.. Martin Company acquired the Vega rights from the Bostonian Nelson Family in May of 1970 and sold the franchise overseas in March of 1979. An example of one of these 4-stringers from the 1920`s is still in the C. Dear Reader, Thanks for the photo of your Vega/Martin Pro-5 banjo. Of note, when the “Professional” 5-stringer was made in Boston in the early 1960`s, it had square MOP inlays with dots on the neck compared to the nicely designed inlays on your fretboard and seen in the 1966 catalogue.They made both tenor/plectrum and five-string models.The differentiating feature is the deeper resonator than the VIP/Pro II/Osborne/Scruggs Mk II/Bobby Joe Fenster standard resonator models—not quite as deep as the Vox and not top tension (standard hook and nut with Pro II flanges).