The banjo reviews database is here to help educate people before they purchase an instrument. Of course, this is not meant to be a substitute for playing the instrument yourself!
6991 reviews in the archive.
Where Purchased: Wildwood Music Company
Year Purchased: 2002
Price Paid: 2400 ($US)
Loud, crisp, resonant. Very responsive and easy to play.
I play mostly swing, jazz and Bgrass and the tone is adaptive to all.
It mics extremely well and with a little tweaking of the mids and highs can make it sound real sweet.
Sound Rating: 9
Set up was at best good. Too much neck bow and string height. Head tension was good but after resetting the neck angle and reducing the excessive neck bow I retensioned the head and got much better tone and intonation overall. All the work was easily done in the matter of a few hours. After approximately 8 months of playing it hard now, it needs to be gone over again. Eventually, I expect it will settle in and need fewer adjustments in years to come. Changed to a 5/8 bridge.
Setup Rating: 6
I purchased it for two reasons, the first was its appearance which is beautiful. Great inlay work and the abolone inlays are very colorful and rich looking. Curly maple neck and highly figured maple resonator with a reddish tone hard acrylic finish is eye catching without being ostentatious.
Appearance Rating: 10
Strong hardware and great nickle finish. 6 way adjustable tailpiece is a pleasure to make minute adjustments with. Tuners are very fast and it didn't come with Keith or Scruggs type D tuners. For the cost of this banjo D tuners should be included. Seven frets of 5th string spikes are standard but fretting on top of them causes the string to mute slightly or play out of tune. Removed spikes and install 5th string sliding tuner.
Reliability Rating: 8
The folks at Wildwood in Coshocton, Ohio are great to do business with. They carry only top grade acoustic instruments and don't deal in used stuff at all. Standard Stelling warranty upon subitting the info card to Stelling Co. Geff Stelling is a pleasure to email with. He very helpful and willing.
Customer Service: 10
Tuners could be better. Frets wire seems a bit soft but time will tell as to their wearability. Original bridge was very poor sounding. Head has a medium amount of frosting and I would prefer more as it's begining to wear prematurely.
The neck is fast but not as fast as my ES Gibson signature standard. The backside radii of the neck takes a bit getting used to but it's a very sturdy feeling banjo. Built like a tank and surely meant to last a lifetime.
I installed a Scorpion bridge and Ludwig Showcase head and it really brought out the bass and overall tone quality of the banjo. The best improvements I've made to this instrument so far and it was good to begin with.
Components Rating: 10
No, not for the price I paid! I think there are better quality banjos out there for about $1000 less brand new. The fit and finish of the Red Fox is quite good and hardware too but it is hard feeling in your hands. Like holding steel instead of wood. The tone is great and typically Stelling.
Overall Rating: 7
'Lamplighter's Hornpipe' 39 min
'Old Molly Hare' 1 hr