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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: The First Stanleytone Banjo

Please note this is an archived topic, so it is locked and unable to be replied to. You may, however, start a new topic and refer to this topic with a link:

stanleytone - Posted - 03/27/2013:  13:35:40

There was a thread a few weeks agao about Ralph Stanley ,and there was some discussion about the his Stanleytone banjos,and when they were first being made.

I got an email from Frank Neat today and he said the very first one was built in 1975 (or 19 and 75, as Ralph would say........)

Andyincov - Posted - 03/27/2013:  13:59:25

God bless ralph stanley!

banjo-oz - Posted - 03/27/2013:  17:49:04

Are the Stanleytone banjos still a good buy ? they appear for sale in the classifieds sometimes at various prices but as I recall someone in the past put up the thought that the quality between banjos was a bit inconsistent. This would be a bit of a problem because at the prices they are offered for sale at  are defiantly (to my size wallet anyway) keeper banjo prices!

RioStat - Posted - 03/28/2013:  04:59:52

Guy here in Akron (OH) has Stanleytone #5. It's a beautiful looking and sounding banjo.

steve davis - Posted - 03/28/2013:  05:20:36

I've never heard a bad one.
Jimmy Cox does good work.

stanleytone - Posted - 03/28/2013:  14:15:42

To love the stanleytones, you gotta love the archtop sound.i have been told by many people over the years that my stanleytone was the best sounding archtop they have heard.( i gotta admit, it does sound awesome)

there have been different editonas of the stanleytones put out ,each edition having its own look . once the newer edition is put out, the older one is no longer made.Frank Neat has said that when Ralph's time comes, there will be no more made.  In the future, i guess collectibility will be an issue.There have been two left handed models built.(i have one of them , a 40th anniversary edition.)the necks are very skinny,and in my edition at least, smaller frets were used.

the-fish - Posted - 03/28/2013:  15:09:22

Frank told me that they were never really built in any order either... i.e. 1-50.... if someone wanted a special number thats what they got

stanleytone - Posted - 03/28/2013:  19:08:29


Originally posted by the-fish


Frank told me that they were never really built in any order either... i.e. 1-50.... if someone wanted a special number thats what they got

now that's weird!shock

bbanjoboy - Posted - 04/12/2013:  08:07:17

I bought # 25 (nickel) in 1987 brand new from Ralph.. I played it exclusively until about 2000. I am a dyed in the wool Stanley guy and loved the banjo but as I learned more about them and Ralph's banjos over the years, I became a bit disenfranchised with them..
First thing that happened was I changed the head on mine and I never ever could get that original sound it had when I got it new.. maybe that was just me.. but I eventually sold it when the band I was with never did any Stanley tunes.. and I 'needed' a flathead.. I just got tired of nobody knowing or playing that old Stanley stuff I love so much..
Next thing that kind of got me a bit disenfranchised was that when I got mine, (and I actually have a cassette of Ralph on stage saying this) there were supposed to be 100 made .. 50 gold and 50 chrome .. (actually nickel, but Ralph called it chrome--LOL)... Then Ralph said "after that there won't be no more"... well, that turned out not to be the case.. but there never were any more nickel ones made...
The next thing I learned was that Jimmy Cox was making the rim and resonator and Frank was just basically making the neck and finishing the res... and putting the parts together.. which kind of seemed strange to me.. I really thought that a builder would build all the wooden parts.. But I found out that most don't..
Then lastly, when I became more educated about Ralph and his playing I found out that he ALWAYS used walnut banjos almost exclusively.. Originally an early RB-2, then onto the famous RB-5.. He obviously played and traded banjos back in the day, but almost always settled on walnut..
SO .. Why did Frank choose to make the "Stanleytones out of maple? Obviously, the true Stanley TONE is walnut.. And why did he use the Bela Voce inlay pattern when Ralph had a wreath? Not sure if the later Stanleytones were always Bela Voce inlay, but mine was...
SO.. I sold mine because it wasn't walnut, it didn't have a wreath pattern, and it was nickel.. which were about as opposite of Ralph's style 5 as you can get.. After all these years I finally acquired a true "Stanleytone" (1927 Tb-5 with a proper wreath pattern neck by Ronnie Bales)..
Now, don't get me wrong.. I am in NO WAY knocking the Stanleytones.. they are SPECTACULAR banjos.. but IMHO, they are not representative of Ralph's banjo... They do have his name on them as well as Franks and that says a lot.. and they sound great.. Jimmy Cox makes great parts and Frank makes great necks... I guess the metal on them was FQMS or something.. not to sure about that.. Does anyone know where the metal came from/what kind of tone ring they have in them? Were there ever any walnut/wreath/burnished gold Stanleytones made?

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