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Any interest in a Stelling Pot?

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Jan 12, 2019 - 9:39:59 AM
129 posts since 9/4/2005

I never really considered this before, but now I'm curious. I have a '91 Bellflower in the classifieds that I can't seem to give away because it has a repaired neck crack. The repair was professionally done, and the banjo is now structurally sound.

So now I'm wondering if there's any interest in just the complete pot assembly. I've seen others part out banjos after having no luck selling them. It seems a shame, though. This is such a good banjo

Any thoughts?


Jan 12, 2019 - 11:47:08 AM
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Banjo Lefty


1466 posts since 6/19/2014

Well, in fact you’re not giving it away — you’re asking $1650.00.

Try lowering your price.

Jan 12, 2019 - 12:00:30 PM

129 posts since 9/4/2005

Obviously, I wasn't being literal. I'll probably take the ad down and try again in a few months. I can't even build a Gibson copy for what I have the banjo listed for.

Jan 12, 2019 - 3:21 PM
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21116 posts since 7/6/2005

Why not see what Geoff would charge for a new neck? That repair looks really good. If I was looking a Stelling, I would not be afraid of it at that price.

Edited by - beegee on 01/12/2019 15:22:48

Jan 12, 2019 - 4:54:31 PM
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620 posts since 6/3/2013

Somebody who only plays custom necks would be interested in it. I bought a new Huber Kalamazoo for $4500 and about a year later discovered the neck was too narrow for me. I had to take it off and have a new, extra wide neck made. If I ever buy another banjo I would only buy the pot, and have a neck custom made.

Jan 12, 2019 - 6:20:13 PM



2259 posts since 7/18/2007

A correctly repaired neck crack is stronger than the surrounding wood. Unfortunately, it affects the selling price by about 50%. Been there before. So, if you really want to move it take the going price of an unmolested one and reduce it by 50%. Any potential buyer has to price in what a replacement neck would cost as they don’t know the history or who and how well it was repaired. It may last forever or it may snap next week. A new Stelling neck would be a very expensive item indeed. 

Edited by - banjoez on 01/12/2019 18:22:18

Jan 13, 2019 - 7:00:55 AM
Players Union Member



849 posts since 3/22/2017

You might consider consigning w/Elderly or other national dealer and put it up on Reverb as well, to give it more ad views

Jan 13, 2019 - 10:52:50 AM
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1607 posts since 9/10/2003

Originally posted by banjoez

A correctly repaired neck crack is stronger than the surrounding wood. Unfortunately, it affects the selling price by about 50%. Been there before. So, if you really want to move it take the going price of an unmolested one and reduce it by 50%. Any potential buyer has to price in what a replacement neck would cost as they don’t know the history or who and how well it was repaired. It may last forever or it may snap next week. A new Stelling neck would be a very expensive item indeed. 

I agree with Joe completely, but when most buyers see a broken headstock repair it's like the kiss of death! You almost have to give your banjo away.


Jan 13, 2019 - 11:37:15 AM
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1665 posts since 8/20/2008

Also, buyers know that they will have to almost give it away if they, in turn, decide to unload it later on.

Most high end banjo (like Stellings) buyers/traders, like many of us here, move in and out of banjos frequently. Not because there is anything wrong with the banjos (many really are in mint condition, if you know the sellers), but simply because we are hobbyists and enjoy trying out different stuff, more than for any other reason. We know that we will very likely want to move an instrument out after some time with it goes by. I have traded banjos back and forth with several members here, and we all trust each other's word without reservation.

All of this sucks for you, but it is the truth. In this case, I would rather keep and play a perfectly functional Stelling than sell it for a third of what it might otherwise bring.

Edited by - Beardog on 01/13/2019 11:40:13

Jan 13, 2019 - 5:34:30 PM
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367 posts since 3/27/2010

I've been watching your ad and to me it highlights just how bad the market is right now. Repaired neck or not, that's pretty cheap for a playable Stelling.

Jan 13, 2019 - 8:38:27 PM
Players Union Member



11787 posts since 8/30/2006

I was my privilege to work on a certain '76 Bellflower that played in a certain movie, the banjo did it's job perfectly, the player moved his fingers pretty good, too. This is not a Stelling review.

I got to disassemble the banjo, not a Tony Pass redux.
Not to denigrate any banjo "Company" (a group of individual artists or low paid productioneers) nor any historical works from Stromberg (cup -o-phone), Bacon & Day, Paramount, Essex or Darmstadter. Everyone is just a leaf in a big beautiful tree that sings not only when the wind is blowing. Us , too. Fun,huh?

It's a bluegrass rim with a cast flange with an OPENBACK heel type cut with slight modifications, using a pyramidal ledge that is Black Walnut for strength. It snugs up perfectly every time due to forethought and design.
Yours might not be the same type of Bellflower due to production changes, but the laminated Maple rim shows Production butt joints staggered for strength, not using feathered or scarf joints.

That made me change the way I build tube (openback with no holes) and tube and plate. You know there are shoe and plate offerings in the same price point, which I find just ok, maybe. Imports excluded. I play my own at the jams, so I can hear many differences. My dog is better than me. Rice Krispies is just one form of nutrition.

The Bellflower weighed 12+ pounds, so an owner was curious. Inside , I found hollow Aluminum rim rods, aluminum nuts for those, Stellings are not the first to do that, no problem. I know a guy who bought 2 Bells because he loved his wife so much, it shows.
But all the other work from headstock to tailpiece was pre-published first class. I don't have one because I'm not that wealthy yet.
The action was that too slinky bluegrass action that muffles many beautiful aspects of many masters' hand work. A little higher action would have brung out faster vintaging and scared the field hat off of that public employee.

Mumford and Sons are not representative of the new youths, they have excited them. Crooked Still gets in there. Down in the Holler is another period piece new band showing respect and change. Monroe's crossing is another whose banjo is older than the 20-year old playing it.

Another thread recently notes a younger person's recent purchase of some ladies' grandfather's pre-war Epiphone 17 fret tenor in a "garage find.' He knows what he has, it was who could repair it correctly. I referred him to Chuck Cellino here in Phoenix.

3rd and final example. A 34-year old investment banker got to purchase one of the only 500 Stromberg Cup-O-Phone tenors with Rainbow Trout scales on the back of the resonator. He bought an Eastman reproduction neck and I let him put in his own frets here with me, I just stood back.

Young people have to sometimes work harder than we did, if you can imagine just to get by. All my medical techs that work on me also have to work at Chipotles, etc. There is a disco group that buys Rice Krispies banjos or imports.

But there is a future hope group that really digs the roots and branches, that values good things and has the money or will earn it to get the right sound, feel or satisfaction of a quest well-journeyed.

I think you have the wrong demographic, don't give up, Dang it things have changed. The banjo community is insulated, small, Mighty Tiny and afraid of new thangs, but yet they play. Maybe they don't have the money or understand what Stelling's vision is. When I called the 1-800, Geoff answered it himself, not a customer svc. rep. He's also pretty busy . I notice we're an aging fleet and so self-propelled -USA>

The new youths are not always on the hangout, try a banker's forum or classified section with new medical professionals with a distaste for modern plastic and a yearning for "real things" instead of "tastes just like chicken.

And as if the folkies didn't piss everybody off: Their headquarters is now Kansas City, Missouri, but their lobby is a real music store with real instruments on consignment. Real Fender Strats, Early Vega banjos, New Recording King banjos, Vintage Recording King Lap Steels, Ukes, Great old Martin, Epiphone and Gibson guitars and BANJOS,

I suggest you reassemble the banjo, raise the price and contact them, they KNOW. See what happens then, I didn't see one Stelling.

When a white-skinned farmer from Kansas walks in and blows out the Blues on an old Strat he's looking for, that's my kind of people.

I just got out of the Hospital, had my head replaced, Doctor looked in my ear and said he couldn't even see a semblance of a brain.

We can all do better, I'll try.

Thanks for the opportunity.

Jan 13, 2019 - 9:15:56 PM
Players Union Member



11787 posts since 8/30/2006

Dang, I skipped a few details; The Folk Alliance is in KCMO, blues to bluegrass.

The guy really did buy his wife a bell, too. They play together, not just a cynical joke.

Then you could consign anything you want to sell, duh .

When I showed them this Helix....

Jan 14, 2019 - 9:30:12 AM
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129 posts since 9/4/2005

Thanks for the insights, guys. It looks like I'll be keeping the old gal for a while longer. It would simply defy logic to sell a perfectly good Stelling for less than what it would cost to build a decent mastertone copy. It's simply a case where the intrinsic value (to me at least) of the instrument far exceeds the market value.

Edited by - rockybottom16 on 01/14/2019 09:30:48

Jan 14, 2019 - 7:21:18 PM
Players Union Member



11787 posts since 8/30/2006

I am learning to speak the whole loaf and a few crumbs of the loaf, too.  Slices of information are nice, sometimes a great sandwich like many of you make.  Now we're cookin'

It's the right time: The whole tall building in Kansas City houses the entire Folk Alliance International Offices in one place all the time!  They no longer move the annual conference and meeting around like they did before.  Like IBMA, they just stay in one place.  Cost effectiveness is better use of the resources. 

The music store in the Lobby seemed like a great idea because no one was innovating their roots and branches as well at the time.

The foot traffic is ENORMOUS, not the % of consignment, because they are stating the purpose of their organization by showing "axes only".  My term, not theirs. 

In Joliet, Illinois , the Railroad Station when I was 8 years old, had a great big model railroad layout that was like watching real things from far away.  I had to stand on my tiptoes. But my Grandfather who showed it to me and  stood behind my missing father for me was an Engineer on the Gulf Mobile and Ohio, to me he was Bill Mason.  and those trains sang songs, too.  At night mostly  (the next 16-wheel driver I saw was as a soldier in Germany in '63 because they had coal.   Back to the task. 

I deliberately did not mention the # of people who would see any instrument. Period.  It ain't Seegerville.  It's the "POLKA LIONS."  it's a folk joke, mine, I write songs for 5-string, working simple is hard. 

They are not constrained by any ill will nor personal politics that might be lingering, they are people just like IBMA. Same content, different form.

I'm not a member, nor IBMA, yet,  I'm out.  (  ))==='== ::}

Edited by - Helix on 01/14/2019 20:17:09

Jan 15, 2019 - 12:54:12 PM

1814 posts since 4/5/2006

Where is the neck cracked? Mine was at the heel. It was professionally repaired. The owner flew with it & it broke & was again repaired.  When I bought it, it was playable, barely. You had to be careful how you held it & not move around too much or it would go out of tune.

After I had a new walnut neck & matching resonator built, someone offered me a good price for the old one. At the time,it never occurred to me that Geoff will not sell tone rings or flanges, so it's not like there are a lot of Stelling pots floating around looking for a five string neck. A broken one at that.

I've probably got more money wrapped up in that banjo than I'll ever be able to get out of it. But it was a one way trip for that banjo, so it doesn't bother me that much.

If your banjo is playable & you like Stelling banjos, keep it & play it.  

Jan 17, 2019 - 5:49:15 AM
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129 posts since 9/4/2005

Yeah, I may just keep it. This neck repair is at the neck/headstock area. It didn't break off, it only cracked. And it is rock solid now. The thing stays in tune for weeks at a time. But I understand why folks are skittish about buying it. If they knew me, they wouldn't be. I have over 400 ebay transactions of mostly instruments and related items, and I have 100% positive feedback. You don't get that by being deceitful!

Thanks everyone for your input.


Jan 31, 2019 - 7:20:29 AM

149 posts since 12/5/2014

I’m late to this thread. You must have since deleted your ad. I couldn’t find it. I might have been interested in it. Here’s why. Here’s a long winded post just because I stumbled across the subject.

Ironically, I bought an RK 36 on eBay with a crack in the neck a few weeks back. It didn’t look too bad in the picture. Just a hairline crack. I actually wanted it for the pot, I determined that the $350 I paid would have costed me more because I needed all the nickle parts etc. as well,,,,,to replace cheaper ones on a Gibson clone. When the banjo arrived, the peg head was laying by itself in the box, the nut fell onto the floor and the whole upper part was only dangling by the strings! I thought, oh man,this is worse than I thought.

Just out of sheer boredom, before I tore into it, I used my wife’s mod Podge glue that she uses for crafts, and glued it and clamped it back on. After it dried for a couple days, just for giggles, I tried pulling it back apart with brute force to test the strength and couldn’t! I was fully expecting to pull it back apart with my hands, and when I did, I was going to begin parting it out. Saving the tuners, shaving the fingerboard to collect rosewood dust, etc.

I never even removed the strings through all of this. I tuned it up and it sounds better than any of my banjos I have now, and I have 8. It sounds better than an existing R 36. I thought what the hell? A broken $350 banjo trumps my others in sound? I then turned it into a mission,,,,,, I finished up the crevice left by the crack with several coats of polyurethane to make it perfectly smooth. You can see it was cracked by looking at it, but you can’t feel it!

I threw a set of cheat a keys on it (that dented the hell out of a Deering Deluxe) only because I don’t care if they ruin the peghead. I play it daily now, it’s my go to banjo. It sounds good, plays well, and I could care less if I wear the frets out. Nobody would buy it I’m sure, so I put it to work, and work it I certainly do,,,,,,,,,, daily!

I am no longer afraid of cracked necks. Unless it’s my own neck that holds my head up lol


Edited by - Banjo_Kevin on 01/31/2019 07:29:11

Jan 31, 2019 - 9:39:59 PM
Players Union Member



849 posts since 3/22/2017

Banjo K: that's interesting, I also have 2 RK's of same model made a few months apart, that I've been trying to get to sound identical so I could test tailpieces, shims, heads etc. Not easy. Haven't checked tonering fit yet but the Presto vs heavy cast (Cox) tailpiece definitely makes a difference.

Feb 2, 2019 - 6:28:10 PM

285 posts since 10/22/2006

It appears you sold the banjo. Looking at the pictures I would not be afraid to play that banjo. Somebody got a decent deal on a Stelling in my opinion.

Feb 8, 2019 - 8:31:28 AM
Players Union Member



11787 posts since 8/30/2006


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