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Sep 18, 2020 - 7:40:03 AM
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28 posts since 1/5/2011

Alright, Stelling experts…I have one for you.

A couple years ago, I bought a Stelling Bellflower on consignment from Elderly. It was a 1977 model, and it was a bit unusual. For one thing, it was an archtop. Cool, I kinda like that sound-I am a big Ralph Stanley fan. Also, it’s maple, not walnut. It also has a black compensated nut on it-it kinda looks like plastic. I called Geoff, and I did not want to take too much of his time so I did not get too deep into it. But he seemed not to be be too surprised.
So what do you think? Has anyone ever seen variations within a model like this?

Thank you in advance.

Sep 18, 2020 - 8:34:32 AM
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Texasbanjo (Moderator)

USA

24931 posts since 8/3/2003

I've never seen one, but if Geoff wasn't concerned, then I wouldn't be, either.

Now, if you're not satisfied with his answer, please call or PM him (he's a member) and ask for more information. He is a very nice gentleman and I'm sure he will answer your questions to your satisfaction.

Sep 18, 2020 - 9:00:05 AM

chuckv97

Canada

52638 posts since 10/5/2013
Online Now

A while back on his thread Sonny Osborne mentioned the compensated nut on his Sonflower.

Sep 18, 2020 - 11:11:46 AM
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3325 posts since 5/29/2011

The compensated nut was common on their banjos at one time. I don't know if they still make them.

Sep 18, 2020 - 12:19:42 PM

1721 posts since 4/10/2005

If you go onto Google and click "Images," you can do a keyword search, don't limit by model, just try, "Stelling banjo 1977." I got a number of '70s Stellings, most had the creme-colored nut I'm more familiar with, but there was a link to this old BH Classifieds ad for a 1976 Bellflower (was this the era when this model was maple? ). I didn't see the nut in any of the closeup shots, but there is a far-off shot of the banjo lying in the case, and all looks dark up the neck. Could the nut here be black?
banjovault.com/banjo/73015

 

Looking at the banjo in this ad I'm thinking how nice it would be to have Stelling's Afton Star "woody" model in plain blonde maple.  With the Afton Star black binding it would look like the color config in this ad, and I really like it . . .

Edited by - ceemonster on 09/18/2020 12:21:28

Sep 18, 2020 - 3:16:30 PM
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4193 posts since 6/15/2005

quote:
Originally posted by Culloden

The compensated nut was common on their banjos at one time. I don't know if they still make them.


All Stelling models have a compensated nut except for the Crusader, which has a longer scale and a compensated bridge.

Sep 18, 2020 - 3:20:29 PM

4193 posts since 6/15/2005

quote:
Originally posted by ceemonster

Looking at the banjo in this ad I'm thinking how nice it would be to have Stelling's Afton Star "woody" model in plain blonde maple.  With the Afton Star black binding it would look like the color config in this ad, and I really like it . . .


I have the prototype Afton Star (the one in the photos on the Stelling website).  It's a beautifully designed and finished banjo that weighs 8.5 pounds and sounds amazing.

But it's not maple.  It's unstained mahogany.

Sep 18, 2020 - 5:58:57 PM
Players Union Member

OM45GE

USA

100748 posts since 11/7/2007

My 1980’s Golden Cross has a compensated nut on it.

Sep 18, 2020 - 6:46:37 PM

1721 posts since 4/10/2005

[[it's not maple. It's unstained mahogany.]]]

I'm aware that the standard Afton Star is unstained mahogany. The point was, remarking how nice it might be to have one in plain maple.

Edited by - ceemonster on 09/18/2020 18:47:45

Sep 18, 2020 - 6:47:35 PM
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chief71

USA

179 posts since 6/6/2006

April 21, 1977 Staghorn #382




Sep 18, 2020 - 8:35:51 PM

2579 posts since 4/16/2003

Weren't the early Bellflowers made of birch?
Seems to me Geoff had a problem with a bad run of necks on these, perhaps he substituted maple on some of them.

Some of the models had black compensated nuts, most others white.
You DO NOT want to change this out for a "regular" nut, if you remove it and butt a regular-style nut at the end of the fingerboard, you're going to end up with intonation/tuning problems because the first fret won't be "long enough" and all the rest of them will be off as well.

If you look at the nut, I believe the 4th and 1st represent the "true length" between the nut and the 1st fret. The 3rd is "set back" towards the peghead for more length, the 2nd is "set forward" for less.

Sep 18, 2020 - 11:05:51 PM

Alex Z

USA

3943 posts since 12/7/2006

The very early Stellings did not have compensated nuts.  The nut in the picture above of the 1977 Staghorn is not compensated.

The Whitestar and Superstar models had dark binding and also black nuts, at least in the early versions.  I don't know the material for the nut.  I had a Superstar bought new back around 1980.  It had a compensated black nut.  Some of the Scrimshaw models had black nuts.

In the Stelling nut compensation method, the third string is set forward toward the bridge to make the effective length of the string shorter.  The second string is set back to make the string longer.  1st and 4th are set somewhere in between.   The direction of the string compensation for 2nd and 3rd strings is the opposite that one would see on a compensated bridge, which typically has the 3rd string set to make the string longer.

Hope this adds to the accumulated knowledge.  Interesting topic, and exceptional banjos.

Sep 19, 2020 - 5:22:26 AM

28 posts since 1/5/2011

Thanks, y'all. Here is the headstock and the nut.
I appreciate all the info. I don't know much about wood, so I guess it could be birch. Anyway, I love it, it sounds great, and I am happy with it.




Sep 19, 2020 - 7:42:46 AM

3410 posts since 4/27/2004

quote:
Originally posted by ceemonster

[[it's not maple. It's unstained mahogany.]]]

I'm aware that the standard Afton Star is unstained mahogany. The point was, remarking how nice it might be to have one in plain maple.


The Foggy Mtn was maple with a plain finish and black binding.

Sep 19, 2020 - 7:55:52 AM

Alex Z

USA

3943 posts since 12/7/2006

If you post a picture of the back of the resonator, those who know wood can tell if it is maple or birch.

The nut appears to be compensated.  There is a bit of black on the peghead side, as if the nut were moved forward to do the compensation.  Stelling compensated nuts are positioned slightly forward of the "normal" nut position, and that's because the 3rd string is compensated by moving it closer to the bridge.

This is a world-class banjo in every respect, and I hope you enjoy it.  I've always liked the early Stellings.  Maybe some day the right one will come my way.

Edited by - Alex Z on 09/19/2020 07:56:59

Sep 19, 2020 - 8:36:56 AM

28 posts since 1/5/2011

Not a great photo, but here is the back of the resonator:


 

Sep 19, 2020 - 9:54:42 AM

Alex Z

USA

3943 posts since 12/7/2006

Birch!  Classic Stelling design from those years.  Unstained birch with dark binding.  A great banjo.

Sep 19, 2020 - 9:57:46 AM

Alex Z

USA

3943 posts since 12/7/2006

Aesthetically, the black nut goes well with the black binding.

Sep 19, 2020 - 10:04:51 AM

Alex Z

USA

3943 posts since 12/7/2006

Another thing in the early years was that there was a little more wood left after the last fret, maybe 1/8 or 3/16.  This resulted in the bridge moving 1/8 or 3/16 more toward the middle of the pot, which in my opinion gave more depth to the low notes.  Couple that with the block rim at the time, and that's a powerful and rich-sounding banjo.

With the later 3-ply rims, I always felt that there was more in the banjo that couldn't come out, compared to the early ones.  When Mr. Geoff started using the Tony Pass rims around 2002-2003, that was a significant different in depth of tone to me.  And I bought a Staghorn.

Edited by - Alex Z on 09/19/2020 10:05:15

Sep 19, 2020 - 10:56:09 AM

2692 posts since 11/15/2003

James,
Back in 1982, while I was stationed at ft riley ks..the local music store in junction city..had 2 stelling banjos hanging on the wall, a white star..flathead..
And a bellflower archtop..the spitting image of what yours is
And yes, it was a fantastic sounding and playing banjo...the sound was more like a brighter sounding flathead than arch top,
I played it alot, being friends and in bands with the manager.

Warp!

Sep 19, 2020 - 11:14:58 AM

1721 posts since 4/10/2005

[[[The Foggy Mtn was maple with a plain finish and black binding.]]]

I'm dreaming of that for a custom order of the Afton Star "woody" model!

Sep 19, 2020 - 3:23:14 PM

28 posts since 1/5/2011

Thanks, y'all. I learned a bunch today: I had no idea it was birch.
I have always thought it was maple. I have always loved the sound of it-it's loud and plays like butter. I'll try moving the bridge around a bit and see how that sounds.

Sep 23, 2020 - 12:24:03 AM

tonwil

USA

751 posts since 8/28/2011

Unfortunately, there is one place for the bridge and one place only. and that is when the intonation is correct. if you change string height or string gauge, you might be able to move it some, but for every set up with a certain height and string type, there is one spot for the bridge. once its correct, and the banjo is in tune all the way down the neck, there isnt much leeway for the bridge to be moved. you can change the tone by string height, tailpiece height and head tightness, and bridge thickness. but we cant move the bridge around and keep the intonation correct as a general rule.

Sep 23, 2020 - 4:56:50 AM

dj9124

USA

1055 posts since 9/28/2003

Years ago I had an older Stelling Bellflower just like the one shown made out of Japanese Birch with a black nut, only difference was mine was not an archtop. It was a great banjo!

Sep 25, 2020 - 2:30:52 AM

14985 posts since 2/7/2003

Note you cannot change the compensated nut for a regular one its impossible

Scott

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