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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!

6935 reviews in the archive.

Stelling Staghorn Review

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Submitted by Buckhorn (see all reviews from this person) on 3/20/2020

Where Purchased: 'banjobc' on BanjoHangout

Year Purchased: 2020
Price Paid: $4500.00 ($US) (bought USED)


The sound is amazing, the first time I played it at band practice, they all just said, "WoW!" Little effort used in playing, as the sound is so great I can pay more attention to my smoothness in playing. I feel so comfortable with the fingerboard and frets. I'm a quiet picker, but with this banjo the volume is just right and I have gained more speed and clarity in my playing. I had been playing a Huber Lancaster and at jams I found myself playing too hard and getting choppy in order to be heard, but when I began playing this Staghorn at the jams, I had no problem being heard and did not have to play as hard, as the banjo did all the work for me. I love the sound of the low D string, the banjo is full, and the notes have just enough separation and sustain to keep a melody flowing, or to drive the heck out of a tune! Upper register, up the neck is absolutely true and intonation is right on. This Staghorn has balance all the way up the neck.

Sound Rating: 10


I say it was used, however, banjobc (BHO subscriber) took great care of this banjo and for a 2005 model, it was showroom perfect in every way, no wear at all, the overall appearance of this banjo was brand new. I did not worry about setup at first, as I knew it hadn't been played, so I left it as was for 2 months until I broke it in and brought it back to life... then I did my own setup via Geoff Stelling's website (he has a place there to show you how to set up a Stelling banjo). When I followed Geoff's instructions, the banjo came to life and was just amazing, I couldn't stop smiling and had to contact Geoff and tell him how pleased I was with this banjo. If you buy a Stelling, just follow the setup instructions per the Stelling website, and you can't go wrong.

Setup Rating: 10


Easy on the eyes? It's mesmerizing! The banjo has not a scratch on it. The deer antler inlay pattern is beautiful, and the antler overlay on the resonator against the dark claro walnut is picture perfect. Geoff Stelling made me a custom white mother of pearl truss rod cover for it to add to the beauty. Everything about the banjo is so nice, and a product of real craftsmanship. I'm proud to own this banjo, made in Virginia, and me being a 'Virginia Boy', we're like two peas in a pod! I get nice compliments wherever I play it, on sound and how it looks.

Appearance Rating: 10


This banjo will outlast me, my son to whom it will be an heirloom for him, and one day his son, this banjo is quality work. With any product, if you clean it after you're done using it, and take care of it, it will last over the course of many generations. I bought the simichrome polish from the Stelling website and keep this banjo shined up, I would recommend the polish for a Stelling banjo to keep it healthy. Banjo is very dependable, I already stand out in a bluegrass jam when some pickers aren't as courteous to other players when they take a break. I can hold my own with this Staghorn

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

I cannot say enough good things about Geoff Stelling - he is speedy in his replies back to me when I ask him questions, he gives helpful advice, he has given me encouraging words and compliments my playing when I have sent him samples of me playing this banjo. He is a military veteran and has done his part to defend and look after the United States. He will be doing some restoration work for me on an older Stelling I have, I trust his work and value his opinions. When I place orders for things off the website, 'Sherry' keeps me up to date with emails on shipping and charges, and is very quick in processing orders.

Customer Service: 10


There is no particular 'one thing' that stands out on this banjo. It's all put together like a perfect ticking clock. But if I had to pick out one thing which stands out above all, is the beautiful finish put on this banjo, it's like looking through clear glass into the wood. You have to hold this banjo and see it to appreciate it.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

Overall, the banjo costs a little more than a lot of other banjos out there, but you get what you pay for.  If you are serious about playing, you want ease of playing, you want to better your playing, you want a finely crafted instrument that shows detail and is a work of art, then you should get a Stelling Staghorn. 

I have played other brands and models in my 35 years of bluegrass banjo playing, and this Staghorn model will be the last banjo I ever buy.  I have two Staghorns now, one for each son when I pass on.

Overall Rating: 10

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