Vega / Joseph Pacheco


5~string banjo Conversion

(John Sirdevan reproduction neck)
© Luke Mercier photographs LM



(Luke plays Suzanna Gal)


Click the thumbnails below to view larger images.

Vega / Joseph Pacheco Platophone 5~string banjo Conversion.


22 fret, 26 1/8 "scale length, overall length 35" rim diameter 10 5/16"

Calf skin head,

The neck is made from beautiful rock maple with medium curl and an ebony fingerboard, peghead faceplate and heel cap.

It is very solid and straight.

The peghead reserves fine, beautifully executed lines, clearly the handwork of a master craftsman.

The neck has a lovely, naturally-light french polished finish with some good oxidization.

This banjo is ideal for someone that doesn't want to fuss around with tuning so much as it is equipped with excellent working GOTOH tuners that tune very easily.

The body is from a Joseph Pacheco Platophone mandolin banjo body ca. 1925 Boston and in my opinion made by Vega. It has an incredible tone ring! This rim is essentially a little wonder style body with fewer brackets (20), a half spun sheathe, simple raised tone ring and tortoisoid binding however it has a most interesting nickel plated brass disc resonator inserted between two square brass rings which rest between the tonering and the rim. The disc is stamped:


Pat. Apld. for

J. Pacheco Mfg.

I found a very small blurb at Vintage Drum published by M. Holmes about the founding of  Liberty Musical Instrument Co. Chicago, in 1926 with the
joining of two Boston firms -- Nokes & Nicolai and Joseph Pacheco. They folded within a year and were bought out by Slingerland by 1927.

The resonator has many holes drilled through it (original) around the perimeter with a 6 pointed star in the middle. Very cool looking!

Surprisingly this banjo sounds Fantastic!!! The impact of the disc resonator is one that helps control those pesky wavering overtones and provides more clarity of pitch. It also projects the sound outward rather than it exiting from behind. All original hardware is present and in good condition.

The bridge is also quite unusual and is original to the body. It looks like it is made from aluminum as a multi-functional bridge. It supports 8 strings on one side and will accomodate 5 on the opposite side. The bridge is inserted to HDF high density fiber for feet.

The tailpiece is a classic Elite.



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Vega Platophone