Thanks for posting the information on Martin mage Vega banjos. Today I purchase Vega PS-5, serial number M-130259.
The label indicates the banjo was made in Needham, MA, but the Vega company was owned by the CF Martin guitar company.
It did not have a tone ring or simply a steel ring like the Wonder, to keep the cost down. I have a VV IV T tenor SN: M130298 which I purchase used about twenty-five years ago for ,000.
Flanked by interactive faculty at a northeastern banjo camp, the BRC founder proudly shows-off his Vega VIP banjo built in Nazareth, Pennsylvania, in 1975. Martin” decal photographed on the back of the VIP Vega peghead.
Unbeknownst to most 5 string aficionados, the Martin Guitar Company manufactured Vega banjos from 1970 through 1979. The BRC Archives contain the serial numbers of these unique Vega-Martin banjos.
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).
The “Pro” model initially featured a “Tube-a-phone tone chamber rim” which evolved into a tone ring with “exclusively designed audio apertures” machined into a dogbone/barbell configuration.
The `Martin Guitars: A Technical Reference` confirms that the BJF-5 banjo was a thinly disguised Pro-5 not unlike yours .
The two legendary musicians in the camp photo are banjo godfather Tony Trischka and Grammy award winner Eric Weissberg (click to enlarge). Old 6 digit Vega serial numbers persisted on a yellow sticker on the inner pot until production was moved to Pennsylvania in 1972. Note the unique cluster of 3 sound apertures spaced around the tone ring of the below VIP-5 model owned by the BRC founder (SN 1364).
Close study of the flange can sometimes reveal, however, that it is left-over Vega hardware from the Needham Heights factory.
Its paper label says it was made by Vega of Boston, part of the CF Martin Co.