1930s Vega Electric Mandolin

Like many other instrument manufacturers before World War II, Vega attempted to put pickups on just about anything with strings. Like most of their competition, their attempts to electrify the less popular instruments lead to some models being produced in small numbers. Few people were playing acoustic mandolins by the late 1930s, and even fewer wanted an electric one.

Still, Vega didn’t just slap one together without any thought. This model – called, simply, the Electric Mandolin – was given a laminated top (described in the catalog as “non-crackable”) and sound posts to support the weight of the pickup. The humbucking pickup shared its overall design with the units found in guitars, but it was given eight poles instead of twelve. This contrasts with Rickenbacker, who used a 6-pole pickup on their electric mandolins.

This Vega originally listed for $80, which put it in a similar price range as offerings from Gibson, Epiphone and National. As with other Vega electrics from the time, it has surprisingly good string balance and strong output. This specimen is all original, though the pickguard has bee replaced with a replica because the original crumbled.