For the first time in decades, you can buy fine instruments directly from Stelling Banjoworks!
In addition to used instruments offered in the Classified Ads, you can buy a new banjo or mandolin directly from us. Please call us at (800) 5-String to order!
It was some time in May or so in 1976 when Ralph Stanley contacted me to make him a banjo to replace the RB-5 that had been recently stolen. I was glad to oblige and made him a Gospel model that had a flathead tonering. That did not fill the bill, as I expected, since Ralph always played on an archtop tonering banjo. So I made him another one with the archtop ring and he liked it a lot. That was in July of 1976. Within a year of that, Ralph asked if I could make a lighter banjo with an archtop ring, so I designed one and had it made to deliver on June 28, 1978.
This is a photo of Ralph holding that banjo.
It was a gold plated, engraved Gospel with a carved cross on the resonator. So, in the space of three years, Ralph owned and played three different Stelling banjos. Ultimately, Ralph got back his beloved RB-5 with the 40 hole archtop tonering, but he had recorded several albums with the Stelling Gospels he played in the meantime. One night while Ralph was in Charlottesville at the Prism Coffee House, he broke a string on his banjo and I happened to be in the audience.
He yelled out to me, “Hey, Geoff! Do you have a banjo I can play?” I so happened to have my 1988 Master’s Cross Deluxe and gave it to him to finish out the show. He played “Shout Little Lula” and brought the house down. He did play that banjo for the rest of the night much to my enjoyment and everyone in the Prism. Ralph was one of my favorite banjo players and always a friend at every festival or concert I was able to attend. The fact that he recorded with my banjo on some of his records is icing on the cake.
I’ll miss Ralph and know that everyone else will, too.
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Stelling’s Set-up System
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A Stelling Banjo Chronology
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