Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Stelling banjo

Archie I see you have a stelling. What model do you have?
And what do think of it?
Since that’s the only high end brand I can get here. Thought I get some feedback.

Hi Mats

Thanks for your enquiry about my Stelling and for asking me to share my thoughts on this topic.

It’s a 2013 Stelling Master Flower Manufactured 17 April 2013 purchased from Eagle Music Huddersfield, England - UK Stelling Dealership on 27 April 2013.

The Stelling Master Flower has the Sunflower inlay pattern but is made from fancy walnut, and has a peghead binding, and purfling rings in the resonator which looks really impressive. The name inlay is located on the fifteenth fret and has a stylish script font with the words Master Flower on the 2013 model. Kinda best described as a Deluxe Sunflower and it sure is a beauty to behold. Nice bling all round, It’s loud and has a great tone and intonation. Like most Stellings It has a Tony Pass 600TS old wood rim, · Bell-Bronze tone ring and 11/16" Bridge. Meaning there is a bigger gap between the strings and the head in front of the bridge than your average banjo setup.

I’d noticed that many Pro’s Players seemed to be using taller bridges particularly on a Stelling Banjo’s and got to wondering why but I have not managed to get a definitive response to my queries on the BHO so I wrote to Geoff Stelling and he told me the taller bridge is now fitted as standard to all Stelling Banjos but he did not give a reason for the change. I understand Deering use a 5/8 bridge as standard, but they said 11/16" bridges are fitted to the Terry Baucom signature model.

My banjo was a retirement gift to myself. I did a lot of research (five years) on all makes before making my purchase. Back then All Asian banjos were receiving less than fair reviews. I guess because Gibson had shut down production and the banjo community needed a whipping boy.

When I was a rank beginner learning to play banjo, Banjo Ben was just getting into teaching and I used the Murphy Method and Alan Munde DVD’s, both Murphy and Alan play Stelling’s so I guess I was greatly influenced by what they had to say and I really liked the sound of their instruments. I also asked a lot of questions over on the BHO about different banjos and Stelings got great reviews. At the time of purchase I was also considering purchasing a Huber Lancaster. A guy on the HO had posted some recordings and I really loved the tone of the Huber but the Huber Dealership here in the UK closed down and I didn’t like the idea of importing a banjo directly from the States myself.

That said I don’t really have the playing skills to do justice to this great instrument. It’s difficult to purchase a good banjo over here in the UK. Most of the instruments on sale are bottle tops, there isn’t the demand over here for music shops to stock mid and high end banjos. Had I had access to a Recording King. Gold Star or Gold Tone banjo I think I would been pretty happy to own any of these. My first banjo was an Asian bottle top but I traded it in for a Chinese built Fender FB58 and I love that too. It’s important to have a well set up banjo. It’s surprising the tone you get from these less expensive instruments. Don’t be fooled into thinking these imported banjos are poorly made.

I did have the opportunity to try a prewar Gibson but at the time I was totally naïve of what I was holding and why the owner was so keen to allow ME to handle it.

The only down side I have with the Stelling is the nickel plating on the arm rest which began to wear off soon after I bought it, due to the body sweat and oils from my skin. I wrote to Geoff about this and he pointed out the disclaimer on the guarantee. My Chinese built Fender has no such guarantee but the chrome plating on the Fender is as good as the day I bought it.

I love all my banjos, like people, they are different, they feel different and they sound different.

I hope this goes some way to answering your query Mats


thank you for taking the time to answer in detail.
much appreciated :wink:

Is there a particular brand of head or bridge that you would recommend for the Stelling banjos with the Tony Pass rim?
It has a Snuffy with a Ludwig, I am thinking about going to an 11/16 Scorpion with an AMB head

1 Like