I have a 1992 Stelling Masterpiece (walnut) with the original Stelling rim and a 2017 Stelling Crusader (mahogany) with the Tony Pass rim. I noticed that the tension hoop does not sit down as far on the Tony Pass rim as it did on the original Stelling rim causing the tension hoop to stick up higher above the head. Maybe the angle of the wedge has changed, or there is more wood in the Pass rim, or the tension hoop diameter is smaller, or something else. I had a 2014 Red Fox with the Pass rim and noticed the same thing. Anybody else noticed this?
I must say that both of these banjos sound great and I would not part with either one. There is a sound difference between the walnut and the mahogany that I like. The Stelling neck is extremely easy to play all the way up.
I have a 1998 Staghorn with the original Cooperman rim and a new Stelling head. I do not see any difference in how the tension hoop sits on mine vs pictures of a new Stelling. Perhaps what you are seeing is the difference between the two heads.
The original head in 1992 would be a Ludwig (5-Star) head. The 2017 head would be made by Remo.
I'd agree with Mr. Mike Rowe that it's likely the height of the head. Up until recently, Remo did not seem to have precise quality control of what the height of the heads were -- so it would be quite possible to get two "medium crown" heads that were different heights or the same heights.
Further, the plastic and frosting are a little different on the Ludwig versus the Remo, and the 1992 head has been stretching for 18 years, versus 3 on the Crusader and 6 on the Red Fox.
1992 Masterpiece -- holy smoke, what a banjo, BanjoMSA !! Might be time to gift it with a new head.
1992 would have the Stew Mac rim. My 1985 Golden Cross also has this rim.
It came to me in 2012 with a Remo head which I switched out to a Stelling (Ludwig) head. After the switch I was able to use my cradle strap which wouldn't fit before because of the hoop sitting low. BTW I think it is a great (loud) sounding banjo and wouldn't change my rim for anything.