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!
7108 reviews in the archive.
Where Purchased: Stelling Banjo Works, Ltd.
After doing a fair amount of research via chats with David Schenkman, Keith Arneson & Geoff Stelling (along with Carla Schaeffer at Pass rims), I decided to ask Geoff S. to convert my 1993 Stelling MasterFlower. This conversion involved Geoff S. removing my original block rim & tone ring and replacing this combo. with a Pass, 'almost flathead' rim. After receiving my converted Stelling I was impressed by both the improvement of tone (more resonant & balanced low end) and the reduction of weight (roughly 3 pounds). I had an initial concern this conversion would result in a noticeable loss of volume (due to the removal of the tone ring). Having played my converted MasterFlower on a fairly steady basis over a week's time, I can clearly say this concern \ fear was totally unfounded.
On a directly related note: If anyone is considering obtaining one of the new Stelling 'Afton Star' models, I would highly recommend it. These banjos are powered by the same 'almost flathead' rim as I now have in place in my 1993 MasterFlower.
For ref, here are links to some prior discussions involving this Pass 'almost flathead' rim:
Overall Rating: 10
Where Purchased: Part of a trade ...
I was looking for a banjo which would: 1. Have a lighter weight; 2. Have smaller no. of metal parts (in order to reduce the prob of corrosion - I often play outside in hot, humid conditions) & 3. Have a radius neck. This model of Nechville, Athena, took care of each of these items.
Sound Rating: 8
Note: The original owner (and seller) of this Nechville wasn't primarily a banjo player. The action was a bit high for my taste & I both lowered the action through use of the Heli-Mount neck (wonderful concept) & a shorter (height) bridge. Note: I choose the replace the Nechville bridge with a Kat Eyz bridge. The Nechville bridge was a bit thich for my taste (though it was well made and had rock solid intonation).
Setup Rating: 9
Outstanding design and wood selection (Black Walnut).
Appearance Rating: 9
Outstanding quality, material selection & design.
Reliability Rating: 10
Excellent & informative website.
Customer Service: 10
Very helpful and response to both questions & in requests for help. Also, I when I purchased some upgrade parts (black chrome tuning keys & tailpiece), they shipped quickly and offered to purchase (not credit - purchase) my old, replaced parts.
Components Rating: not rated
Outstanding and well designed.
Overall Rating: 9
'Converting from turnbuckle' 16 min
'TKL Case' 1 hr
'Docs Banjo Custom made' 2 hrs