A Stelling Banjo Chronology:
Important Instruments and Significant Dates
Compiled by Sherry and Geoff Stelling

For purchase of selected used instruments, please see our our classified ads.
Note: Numbers refer to serial numbers of individual instruments.

Year 1974, Serial Nos. 1 - 7
No. 1 - First banjo completed, Bellflower, sold to Bonnie Hasting, Geoff's banjo student, on July 25th. Bonnie returned the banjo to Geoff in 1988.
No. 2 - First Staghorn and first Stelling designed, built for Brian Welchel, also a student. Now owned by Geoff Stelling.
No. 3 - First Whitestar made of walnut.

Year 1975, Serial Nos. 8 - 45
No. 09 - First Golden Cross made of walnut.
No. 12 - Staghorn built for Alan Munde.
No. 13 - First Gospel and first banjo Geoff kept for himself. Now owned by Jimmy Stelling.
No. 14 - First Scrimshaw with inlaid whale, made for employee and former student and Scrimshaw design creator Jon Wegand.
No. 21 - Bellflower built for Hub Nitchie, founder of Banjo Newsletter magazine.
No. 33 - Second Scrimshaw. Features porpoises on resonator.
No. 35 - Whitestar B with a brass tone ring; first instrument distributed by Elderly Instruments.

Year 1976, Serial Nos. 46 - 285
No. 050 - First Starflower.
No. 084 - Third Scrimshaw . Features a relieved whale on resonator. Parts were engraved and black chrome plated in 1997.
No. 091 - Golden Cross built for Don Reno.
No. 105 - Fourth Scrimshaw built for Alan Munde. Features engraved black chrome and gold plating, with two porpoises relieved on resonator.
No. 115 - Golden Cross built for Craig Smith.
No. 140 - Gospel flathead - the first of three banjos built for Ralph Stanley.
No. 178 - Fifth Scrimshaw. Features a porpoise on resonator and silver wire in the fingerboard.
No. 243 - Staghorn built for Alison Brown.
No. 259 - First archtop banjo.
No. 269 - First banjo with glued-in frets. Frets have been installed in this manner on all subsequent banjos.

Year 1977, Serial Nos. 286 - 644
Ebonol fingerboards are used beginning with serial no. 558. The company returns to using ebony in August 1980 with serial number 1619.
No. 395 - Golden Cross built for Lee Lenker.
No. 399 - Sixth Scrimshaw. Features a double-bound peghead and two porpoises on resonator.
No. 411 - First top tension banjo.
No. 600 - Whitestar played by James Bailey recorded with the Country Gentlemen.

Year 1978, Serial Nos. 645 - 948
No. 673 - Arch Angel - a one-of-a-kind Scrimshaw type of artwork. Features an angel playing a silver horn on resonator and a gold horn inlaid on the peghead.
No. 777 - Gospel made for Ralph Stanley and pictured in the Masters of the 5-String Banjo. Now owned by Jim Pankey.
No. 806 - Staghorn given to Geoff's son, Jimmy, then 9 years old, now with the Hackensaw Boys.
No. 810 - Seventh Scrimshaw. Features a siren on a rock luring a ship in the distance.
No. 827 - Whitestar banjeauring built for Lewis Phillips of the Lewis Family. Played on the Dolly Parton Show.

Year 1979, Serial Nos. 949 - 1368
No. 0940 - Staghorn presented to Ricky Skaggs.
No. 0990 - First Superstar model.
No. 1031 - Eighth Scrimshaw. Purchased by Chuck Erickson, known as the Duke of Pearl. Features giant squid and was pictured in the 1979 catalog.
No. 1090 - Staghorn. Purchased by Steve Carlson, originator of the Flatiron Mandolin.
No. 1128 - Bellflower. Played by Mark Vann, Leftover Salmon.
No. 1183 - Whitestar. Purchased by Dennis Caplinger.
No. 1228 - Prototype of the Sunflower, specially made for Sonny Osborne. Features gold plating, engraved tail piece and armrest, and custom Bellflower inlay. Now owned by Wayne Rice.
No. 1269 - First Sunflower made of stained Birdseye maple, black-white-black binding, scrimshaw binding on peghead.
No. 1345 - Gospel built for Dave Marshall of the Marshall Family.
First mandolin finished March 12, 1979. A total of 79 mandolins were made in California through November 1982, when production was temporarily stopped.

Year 1980, Serial Nos. 1369 - 1801
No. 1387 - Custom Kirk six-string banjo neck added to a Stelling pot and resonator, specially made for Sonny Osborne.
No. 1402 - Ninth Scrimshaw. Features whale fluke.
No. 1427 - Sunflower purchased by Jack Hatfield.
No. 1465 - Gospel Junior (21 fret) made for Lewis Philllips.
No. 1487 - Staghorn built for John McEuen.
No. 1619 - First Masterpiece model played by Little Roy Lewis for eight years.
No. 1705 - Tenth Scrimshaw. Features back-flipping humpback whale.
No. 1761 - The first Sunflower production model built for Sonny Osborne, out of 24 made, is now owned and played by Brian Blaylock of Blaylock Music, Hixson, TN.
No. 1777 - Second Sonflower purchased by Snuffy Smith.
No. 1788 - Newer style Sunflower.

Year 1981, Serial Nos. 1802 - 2171
No. 1919 - Sixth Masterpiece purchased by Ben Eldridge.
No. 1955 - Eleventh Scrimshaw. Features two porpoises on peghead and resonator.
No. 1972 - Sunflower purchased by Buddy Blackman, banjo player for Jerry Reed's band. Played on the Smoky and the Bandit movie soundtrack.
No. 2121 - Stelling tuners introduced.
No. 2134 - First banjo to have three-ply Stewart-MacDonald rims.

Year 1982, Serial Nos. 2172 - 2468
No. 2174 - Sunflower built for Tony Trischka.
No. 2200 - Brass rim rods introduced.
No. 2302 - Newer style Bellflower.
No. 2303 - Newer style Whitestar.
No. 2305 - Custom Sunflower called the Mountaineer was built for Michael McLain. Features gold plating and engraving, 1st fret inlaid with an "M", black binding with purfling.
No. 2312 - Custom stained Whitestar with two fifth string tuners installed on neck, gold plated, with block pot. Built for Jerry Reed.
No. 2337 - First Bird of Prey model built, featuring bald eagle. Pictured in the 1982 catalog.
No. 2434 - Woodtone Bellflower built for John Hartford.
No. 2439 - Woodtone Sunflower built for Ben Eldridge.
No. 2443 - Twelfth Scrimshaw. Features an otter.
No. 2462 - Second Bird of Prey. Features a bald eagle.
Copper flanges introduced in July.

Year 1983, Serial Nos. 2469 - 2730
No. 2500 - First Timbertone model. Made for John Hartford. No name on rim. Standard peghead.
No. 2549 - First Hartford Model T model.
No. 2556 - Third Bird of Prey. Features an eagle descending on a steelhead fish.
No. 2638 - Sunflower built for Raymond Fairchild.
No. 3642 - Reissue of the Whitestar.
No. 2664 - Fourth Bird of Prey. Features a Red Tail Hawk.
No. 2710 - Sunflower built for Don Wayne Reno.
No. 2729 - Sixth Bird of Prey. Features a bald eagle. Archtop.

Year 1984, Serial Nos. 2731 - 2908
No. 2754 - Masterpiece #33, fitted with the first Stelling bridge, and made for Raymond Fairchild.
No. 2782 - Seventh Bird of Prey. Features an eagle and fish. Archtop.
No. 2822 - Eighth Bird of Prey. Features a cooper's hawk and snake.
No. 2866 - First 10th Anniversary Masterpiece banjo. Total of nine made.
No. 2906 - Last banjo assembled in California.
No. 2907 - First banjo shipped from Virginia location, a Sunflower.
Stelling bridges introduced in February.

Year 1985, Serial Nos. 2909-3013
No. 2972 - Staghorn of curly maple. First one to be assembled in new shop.
No. 3000 - First banjo to be totally manufactured in Virginia.
Centrifugally cast tone rings and flanges introduced in late summer.

Year 1986 , Serial Nos. 3014 - 3127
No. 3079 - First Virginian. Features large white mother-of-pearl Cardinal in peghead.

Year 1987, Serial Nos. 3128 - 3258
No. 3192 - First Predator, Bird of Prey.

Year 1988, Serial Nos. 3259 - 3406
No. 3313 - First Masterflower.
No. 3329 - First Moonflower.
No. 3330 - First Master's Cross Deluxe.
No. 3333 - Second Master's Cross Deluxe owned by Geoff Stelling.
No. 3345 - Staghorn built for Alison Brown.
No. 3371 - The first Carolinian model was made for Bonnie Hasting in exchange for the first Stelling banjo made in 1974, a Bellflower.
No. 3406 - Custom wide neck Virginian model built for Eddie Adcock.

Year 1989, Serial Nos. 3407 - 3552
No. 3384 - First banjo with radius fingerboard.
No. 3435 - Moonflower played by Jody King.
No. 3439 - First 15th Anniversary Masterpiece. Total of nine made.
No. 3482 - Last Moonflower.
No. 3485 - First banjo to have cherry neck insert.
No. 3490 - First Moonshadow.
No. 3494 - Ninth Bird of Prey. Features a great horned owl.
No. 3502 - First Masterflower Deluxe.
No. 3539 - First Bill Emerson Virginian.
No. 3550 - First Bill Emerson Red Fox Deluxe.

Year 1990, Serial Nos. 3553 - 3685
No. 3557 - Virginian built for Rickie Simpkins.
No. 3561 - First Red Fox model.
No. 3580 - First Bill Emerson Red Fox.
No. 3581 - Last Moonshadow banjo.
No. 3602 - Second Predator. Features a bald eagle.
No. 3606 - Last Bellflower with bound peghead.
No. 3615 - Third Predator, tenor. Features an eagle and fish on resonator. Purchased by Akira Tsumura.
In January, the first Foggy Mountain Banjo is built. Originally envisioned as a more economically priced instrument; a total of 30 of these banjos were made, bearing separate serial numbers of 1 - 30.
In April, John Hamlett started mandolin production again.
Guitar No. 001 - First Stelling guitar, model CHD-100. The first four were made of unstained cherry.

Year 1991, Serial Nos. 3686 - 3825
No. 3693 - Fourth Predator. Features a peregrine falcon and a bufflehead duck.
No. 3725 - First White Dove.
No. 3727 - First Indian Chief, presented to the Indian Motorcycle Company.
No. 3762 - White Dove open back built for Michael Miles.
No. 3815 - Second Indian Chief. Now owned by Will Heintz.
Guitar No. 007 - RHD-125 purchased by Russell Moore.

Year 1992, Serial Nos. 3826 - 3958
No. 3827 - Thirteenth Scrimshaw, tenor. Features hump back whale. Purchased by Akira Tsumura.
No. 3903 - Masterflower played by Terry Baucom and recorded with on New Roots Down (III Tyme Out and Carolina Blue (Carolina).
No. 3939 - Red Fox with engraved armrest presented to the Tennessee Banjo Institute.
No. 3940 - First Legend of the Dogwood model.
No. 3941 - Second Legend of the Dogwood.

Year 1993, Serial Nos. 3959 - 4085
No. 3975 - Third Legend of the Dogwood.
No. 3980 - Fourth Legend of the Dogwood.
No. 4000 - Third Indian Chief.
No. 4003 - Last Hartford Model T made.
No. 4006 - Masterflower with 26.428" scale made for Tony Ellis.
No. 4011 - Fifth Legend of the Dogwood.
No. 4020 - First Winterhawk banjo, made of shaded curly maple with gold plating and engraving, is raffled to benefit the Winterhawk scholarship fund.
No. 4024 - First top tension Staghorn made since 1982. Built for Paul Craft.
No. 4026 - Sixth Legend of the Dogwwod.
No. 4027 - Seventh Legend of the Dogwood.
No. 4070 - Eighth Legend of the Dogwood.
No. 4072 - Ninth Legend of the Dogwood.
No. 4073 - Tenth (and last) Legend of the Dogwood.
A top tension option is reintroduced.
Guitar No. 008 - First RAD-125, (abalone trim) owned by Geoff Stelling.

Year 1994, Serial Nos. 4085 - 4216
No. 4086 - Masterflower built for Dave Marshall.
No. 4091 - Bill Emerson Red Fox built for Steve Baldridge of Goldwing Express.
No. 4093 - First 20th Anniversary Staghorn model built for Alan Munde.
No. 4094 - Fourth Indian Chief.
No. 4118 - Second 20th Anniversary.
No. 4136 - Third 20th Anniversary.
No. 4144 - Second Winterhawk banjo, made of unstained cherry with black chrome.
No. 4150 - Fourth 20th Anniversary.
No. 4167 - First banjo made with Cooperman rim.
No. 4168 - Fifth 20th Anniversary.
No. 4193 - First Masterflower Deluxe with gold plating and engraving built for James Bailey.

Year 1995, Serial Nos. 4217 - 4381
No. 4228 - First Alan Munde Staghorn banjo built for Dennis Caplinger of Bluegrass, Etc.
No. 4233 - Custom banjo built for Tony Ellis.
No. 4273 - Third Winterhawk banjo made of black walnut with gold plating and engraving.
No. 4282 - Sixth 20th Anniversary.
No. 4301 - Seventh 20th Anniversary.
No. 4317 - First Bill Emerson Red Fox to feature Bill Emerson's signature.
No. 4328 - Top tension Sunflower for Eddie Adcock.
No. 4332 - Staghorn for the U.S. Navy Band.
No. 4343 - Eighth (and last) 20th Anniversary, owned by Geoff Stelling.
No. 4381 - First MerleFest banjo. Made of walnut.

Year 1996, Serial Nos. 4382 - 4548
No. 4406 - First Song of the Mockingbird.
No. 4446 - Second Song of the Mockingbird.
No. 4456 - First newer style Virginian model with abalone trim.
Photographed for front cover of 1997 catalog. First played by Elmer Burchette.
No. 4459 - Custom Virginian built for Larry Wallace of Jimmy Martin's band.
No. 4467 - Fifth (and last) Indian Chief.
No. 4471 - Third Song of the Mockingbird.
No. 4479 - Fourth Winterhawk banjo. Made of shaded curly maple with gold plating and engraving.
No. 4483 - Red Fox built for Will Parsons.
No. 4490 - Fourth Song of the Mockingbird.
No. 4500 - Fifth Song of the Mockingbird.
No. 4516 - Sixth Song of the Mockingbird (custom).
No. 4531 - One hundredth (and last) Masterpiece.
Guitar No. 033 - RAD-125 played by Charlie Sizemore.

Year 1997, Serial Nos. 4549 - 4696
No. 4580 - Seventh Song of the Mockingbird.
No. 4582 - Second MerleFest banjo. Made of curly maple stained silver gray, with bead blasted chrome.
No. 4604 - Fifth Winterhawk banjo, made in the same style as MerleFest 4582.
No. 4621 - Sunflower model built for Terry Baucom.
No. 4622 - Eighth Song of the Mockingbird, tenor.
No. 4642 - Masterflower made for Ben Greene.
No. 4643 - FleckTone banjo built for Bela Fleck.
No. 4672 - First Tree of Life.
Guitar No. 039 - RAD-125. Owner, Gary Brewer.
Guitar No. 041 - RHD-125. Owner, Larry Sparks.
Guitar No. 042 - RAD-125. Owner, James King.
Guitar No. 050 - First SHD-125 model, made of claro walnut.
Guitar No. 052 - RHD-125. Owner, Gary Ferguson.

Year 1998, Serial Nos.4697 - 4850
No. 4705 - Ninth Song of the Mockingbird.
No. 4709 - Virginian built for Eric Gibson.
No. 4728 - First tension hoop stamped with the Stelling name.
No. 4737 - First Swallowtail built for Tom Hanway.
No. 4751 - Third MerleFest banjo. Made in the same style as 1997.
No. 4764 - Sixth Winterhawk banjo. Made in the same style as 1997.
No. 4768 - Tenth (and last) Song of the Mockingbird.
No. 4824 - Custom Masterflower with radiused fingerboard built for Murphy Henry.
Stelling LS-5 model mandolins were introduced.
Guitar No. 076 - RHD-125 purchased by Leigh Gibson of the Gibson Brothers.
Guitar No. 089 - First and only RHD-125S produced featuring a shaded top.

Year 1999, Serial Nos. 4851 - 5007
No. 4855 - Custom Masterflower built for Ned Luberecki. Features a radiused fingerboard , gold plating and engraving.
No. 4857 - First Tree of Life. Features doves instead of the mockingbirds.
No. 4905 - Fourth Merle Fest banjo.
No. 4915 - Sunflower with radiused fingerboard built for Tony Trischka. Styled after the old Sunflower with no first fret inlay.
No. 4941 - Seventh Winterhawk banjo.
No. 4977 - Second Tree of Life.
No. 5000 - Third Tree of Life. Custom carved heel and inlaid resonator.

Year 2000, Serial Nos. 5008 - 5143
No. 5014 - Fourth Tree of Life.
No. 5052 - Fifth Merle Fest banjo.
No. 5082 - First Grey Fox banjo.
No. 5095 - First Zodiac banjo. Features Libra inlay in first fret.

Year 2001, Serial Nos. 5144 - 5294
No. 5151 - Second Zodiac banjo. Features a blue moon stain, bead- blasted, chrome plated, engraved parts.
No. 5164 - Custom mahogany Masterflower made for Lynwood Lunsford.
No. 5167 - Fifth Tree of Life.
No. 5191 - Sixth Merle Fest banjo
No. 5207 - First Butterfly banjo. Open back.
No. 5227 - Second Grey Fox banjo.
No. 5233 - Sixth Tree of Life.
No. 5241 - Seventh Tree of Life.
No. 5267 - First Virginian Deluxe with cardinal engraving pattern.

Year 2002, Serial Nos. 5295 - 5472
No. 5307 - First Butterfly banjo with resonator. Engraved metal parts.
No. 5319 - Eighth Tree of Life.
No. 5343 - Seventh Merle Fest banjo.
No. 5379 - Third Grey Fox banjo.
No. 5385 - Ninth Tree of Life.
No. 5406 - Bellflower. First banjo with a tunneled 5th string.
No. 5415 - First Black Stag banjo. This model replaces the Alan Munde Staghorn.
No. 5432-1 - First Lost Forest banjo. Made entirely out of old wood.
No. 5433-1 - First Old Woody banjo. Made entirely out of old wood.
No. 5436 - First Tomahawk banjo. Made for Steve Baldridge.
Early this year Stelling began using the Tony Pass Old Wood Rims.
Last Stelling production guitar made. Serial no. 101

Year 2003 , Serial Nos. 5473 - 5659
No. 5478 - First Red Fox Deluxe. Last banjo made with cherry. This model replaces the Bill Emerson Red Fox Deluxe.
No. 5498 - Golden Cross banjo made for Tony Ellis.
No. 5483-2 - Second Lost Forest banjo.
No. 5514 - Second Old Woody banjo. Made of Birds Eye maple, custom green stain.
No. 5519 - Eighth Merle Fest banjo.
No. 5555 - Custom Butterfly with bead-blasted, chrome plated, and engraved parts.
No. 5562 - Fourth Grey Fox banjo.
No. 5586 - Third Old Woody, spalted maple stained green, black chrome plating.
No. 5600 - 30th Anniversary Model - The Viking
No. 5607 - White Cross. Golden Cross with all white inlays. Curly maple, black-white-black binding, OW600TS rim, archtop tone ring.
June 7 - Stelling Banjo Works begins 30th year in business.
Last of the LS-5 Mandolins. Total of 34 made.

Year 2004, Serial Nos. 5660 - 5865
No. 5678 - Fourth Old Woody. Features old wood birdseye maple stained green. PVD gold plated parts.
No. 5700 - Custom 7 string banjo.
No. 5708 - Ninth Merle Fest banjo.
No. 5709P - Proto-type Crusader.
No. 5709 - First Production Crusader Deluxe.
No. 5710 - First Standard Crusader. Archtop tone ring.
No. 5723 - Lightning Custom banjo. Lightning inlay pattern by Brian Calhoun, cobalt stained curly maple, plectrum style neck. Made for Jesse East.
No. 5754 - Fifth Grey Fox banjo.
No. 5800 - Fifth Old Woody. Features old wood Birdseye maple stained cobalt, gold and engraved parts.
No. 5830 - Crusader made for Alan Munde.
No. 5863 - Crusader banjo made for Chris Warner with custom neck.

Year 2005, Serial Nos. 5866 - 6091
No. 5924 - Tenth Merle Fest banjo.
No. 5982 - Sixth Grey Fox banjo.
No. 5979 - Custom Butterfly. Cobalt blue stained curly maple, fancy engraving, ebony butterflies on resonator sides.
No. 6054 - Custom Tree of Life. Unstained old wood birds eye maple, black chrome and gold plated engraved parts.
No. 6056 - Sixth Old Woody. Cobalt blue stain old wood birds eye maple, bead-blasted chrome plated, engraved parts.

Year 2006, Serial Nos. 6092 - 6277
No. 6162 - Eleventh Merle Fest banjo.
No. 6168 - Seventh Grey Fox banjo.
No. 6205 - Custom Butterfly. Aqua blue stained curly maple, fancy engraving, bead-blasted chrome plating.
No. 6230 - Custom banjo made of spalted maple, natural finish.
No. 6232 - Grizzly bear banjo. Curly maple with pyrographed peghead and resonator. Gold plated and engraved. Owned by Terry Fohey.

Year 2007, Serial Nos. 6278 - 6431
No. 6322 - Twelfth Merle Fest banjo.
No. 6345 - Custom Ivory Bill banjo. Birds eye maple, chrome plated.
No. 6354 - Eighth Grey Fox banjo.

Year 2008, Serial Nos. 6432...




[ Stelling Home Page | Banjos | Custom Banjos | Old Wood Rims | Banjo Options | Mandolins | Dealers | Classified Ads | Parts & Accessories | About Stelling | Stelling's Set-up System |  Geoff's Banjo Tips Packing a Banjo | Archived Tips | Banjo Chronology | Geoff's Itinerary | Links & Addresses | Contact Us ]
Copyright ©1999-2014 by Stelling Banjo Works, Ltd.
Photography by New Light Studios, Charlottesville, Virginia.