Vega Vegaphone C-75 Arch Top Acoustic Guitar , c. 1938

Vega  Vegaphone  C-75 Arch Top Acoustic Guitar ,  c. 1938

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Item # 7911
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Vega Vegaphone C-75 Model Arch Top Acoustic Guitar, c. 1938, made in Boston, Mass., serial # 38615, sunburst lacquer finish, rosewood back and sides, spruce top; laminated mahogany neck with ebony fingerboard, original black hard shell case.

This very finely built Vega archtops of the 1930's remain under-appreciated instruments by players and collectors, swing era bridesmaids but rarely brides. This elegant C-75 model is roughly the equivalent to the Gibson L-12 of the late 1930's and in some ways is an even classier guitar. It is a full 17" body carved-top guitar with a top bound in checkerboard celluloid and single bound back, fingerboard and headstock. The fingerboard has very unusual engraved plastic block inlay and the headstock sports a fairly elaborate "Vegaphone" and "C-75" logo surrounded by shaped designs also incised into plastic and painted. This unique plastic work is common to some of the high end Vegavox banjos as well. The tailpiece is an unmarked Grover unit and the nicely sculpted bridge has an unusual base with a longer foot on the bass side. The neck is shallow with a "V profile typical of the era.

By the late 1930's Vega had successfully pivoted from banjos to guitars, with a full line of modern electric instruments as well. Vega had experience building high-quality guitars and mandolins long before the banjo boom of the 1920s; this allowed them to thrive in the swing era while banjo-centric competitors Bacon and Lange failed. While Vega’s carved-top guitars were built-like all the company's products- to the very highest quality, they were not particularly innovative. After experimenting with cylinder-topped guitars around the turn of the 1930s, Vega began to build models that were more derivative of Gibson and Epiphone designs. While those competitors increased their body sizes from 16” to 17” and 18” in 1935, Vega held back and only introduced 17” bodies around 1937.

Unlike Gibson and Epiphone, who frequently changed the specifications of their archtop models during the 1930s, Vega changed the instruments model numbers when significant changes were made. The first generation of archtops, in production by 1934, had model numbers ending in zero. When the high-end models were upgraded to 17” bodies around 1937, a five was added to each model. The C-x5-series models were only built for about two years and appear to be the least common of 1930's Vega archtops. By 1939, the archtop models had been updated with new bridges and tailpieces prompting Vega to use model numbers ending in six. Thus, the C-70, C-75 and C-76 actually represent stages in the evolution of a single model; all had bodies of spruce and rosewood, gold hardware, engraved and inked fret markers and were second to top of the Vega line, and selling for $200. The C-70 featured a 16” body; when it became the C-75 the model received a 17” body, fancier tailpiece and a different headstock veneer. This is a splendid example of this rare instrument, and a very fine player's guitar as well as an interesting and unusual part of archtop guitar history.
Overall length is 40 1/4 in. (102.2 cm.), 17 in. (43.2 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 3 1/2 in. (8.9 cm.) in depth, measured at side of rim. Scale length is 25 in. (635 mm.). Width of nut is 1 3/4 in. (44 mm.). This is a VERY clean guitar overall, with only some light finish wear and no alterations. The instrument has had a neck set, and there is visible touch-up on around the heel related to this procedure. There looks to have been a grain crack to the rosewood side coming off the bass side of the heelblock, very neatly repaired but visible on close inspection. There is some odd checking on the top finish in both waist areas, but most of the finish on this guitar is very well preserved. The guitar has been refretted cleanly with period correct wire, the fretboard levelled and rebound so playability is excellent. Overall this is a splendid example of this very rare guitar, complete in an excellent OHSC. Excellent - Condition.