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About Don Reno's banjos

Friday, October 23, 2020 @10:13:59 AM

Don Reno's first Stelling was #91, a walnut Golden Cross delivered on 6-8-76.  At that time, we were finishing the banjos with Sherwin Williams' catalyzed varnish.  The batch we finished Don's banjo with and about 1000 other banjos, was missing a necessary ingredient to control cracking of the finish and Don's Golden Cross cracked so badly that he quit playing it for a while.  When he finally told me about it, I offered to make him a new one with a different finish.  It was Golden Cross #327 made on 2-26-77 and delivered two days later.  It was also a walnut banjo but in nickel plating with no engraving.  I believe Jason Skinner ended up with that banjo.  The new Golden Crosses are made of curly maple with a Cremona style shaded stain (commonly called a sunburst).   Number 327 was the banjo that Don had in his UVA hospital room when he finally passed away and was the banjo he played his last performing years from 1977 till some time before he was hospitalized in 1984.  He passed away in October a month before Geoff moved to Virginia.  The last time I saw him was in July of 1984 in that hospital room along with some family and most of his band.  Stelling won the lawsuit against Sherwin-Williams in a court in Charlottesville, VA in a year or so after moving from California.

Geoff Stelling, 10-23-2020

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