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Sep 19, 2022 - 8:10:37 AM
1826 posts since 8/30/2012

Now that Stelling is no longer making banjos, and the patent is expired on the wedge fit pot design, will we see some makers attempt their own homage to Stelling, in the same way we see so many Masterclones?

Obviously, Stelling doesn't carry the same historical weight as Gibson, but they're very popular and it's a proven design.

Is there any builder out there that's attempting similar construction methods?

Sep 19, 2022 - 8:15:13 AM

2675 posts since 9/18/2010

The patent ran out many years ago so the wedge fit has been available to builders for as long. It will be interesting to see if anyone adopts the design. It is relatively easy to make and machine, unlike Gibson-style tone rings and rims, so that is not a major obstacle. "Masterclone" parts, however, are already available from so many sources that it's just an easier approach for individual builders.

Sep 19, 2022 - 9:30:11 AM

heavy5

USA

2478 posts since 11/3/2016

I think the wedge pot has a lot of potential to experiment w/ some different rings .
Geoff made great banjos from a less complex maching process as John mentions & I'm sure there are folks out there who might come up w/ a different ring maybe w/ a slightly different taper on the rim ?

Sep 19, 2022 - 10:08:06 AM

2675 posts since 9/18/2010

Stelling rims and tonerings intersect at a 45degree angle. That simplifies manufacture because the complementary angle to 45 degrees is 45 degrees. One less chance for error. If, for example, the tone ring is cur at 30 degrees then the rim must be cut at 60 degrees. Two different angles to get right each time. Of course, that makes little difference in these days of CNC technology, but back in the 1970s it made a lot of sense.

Sep 19, 2022 - 10:53:37 AM

banjoez

USA

2460 posts since 7/18/2007

I guess my initial thought is that it would be an interesting experiment to see what more can be done with the wedge fit pot design but it's such a fundamental characteristic of a Stelling that it seems the point is kind of lost without the rest of the unique Stelling craftmanship and artistic design to go along .

Edited by - banjoez on 09/19/2022 10:57:01

Sep 19, 2022 - 1:17:40 PM
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212 posts since 5/27/2008

I machined the inside out of 3 of Geoffs rings similar to what a Gibson looks inside, lightening them almost a pound.
Geoff liked the sound but preferred the original.

Edited by - notty pine on 09/19/2022 13:18:24

Sep 19, 2022 - 1:41:14 PM

RB3

USA

1492 posts since 4/12/2004

The primary purpose of a circular tapered fit is to achieve a zero-clearance fit, which results in extremely accurate alignment. It's a feature that is incorporated in many components used with machine tools. When the taper angle is small you can also achieve mechanical purchase as well as zero clearance. In my experience, the machining of round, mating, tapered surfaces is slightly more onerous than machining round, straight surfaces.

I've never talked to Jeff Stelling about his use of a circular taper for the fit of the tone ring and rim in his banjos, but I suspect that he did so because he theorized that he could get a better sound out such a configuration. It's not unreasonable to theorize that the zero-clearance fit might promote efficient vibrational energy transfer between the tone ring and rim, and that it might produce a louder and better sound. So, if you like the sound of Stelling banjos, then the tapered fit is a good idea. Otherwise, I don't see the advantage of incorporating the tapered fit.

Sep 19, 2022 - 2:34:20 PM
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2675 posts since 9/18/2010

Geoff was in the Navy. Some of the propellers on Navy airplanes had a cone bearing (tapered fit) to hold the prop to the prop shaft. That was his inspiration.
The idea with the banjo is; when wood (rim) takes on or looses moisture from the air in response to changes in relative humidity, it gets larger or smaller. When metal gets warmer or cooler is gets larger or smaller. Those changes affect the fit of a tone ring, especially a design like the Gibson design where there is a slip fit and also two bearing surface. The wedge minimizes the change in fit. If both parts are metal there is virtually no change in a tapered fit when parts expand or contract, but since wood moves more in one direction of the grain than the other (tangential vs radial), the 45 degree angle of the wood rim can change very slightly, but in this case it is pretty much negligible.

Sep 19, 2022 - 3:03:52 PM
Players Union Member

Helix

USA

16077 posts since 8/30/2006

Great thread. I got to see the '76 Bellflower that played in Smokey and the Bandit. The owner wanted a lighter weight Birch rim, but we both agreed as to the collectibility of this banjo and just put it back together.
I noted the hollow rim rods.
The advantage of the circular taper is that it is like a tube and plate rim, it's larger where normally 3/4" is missing for the flange on a mastertone.
This means the neck heel cut is straight just like an open back. No extra long leg at the bottom of the heel.

He used black walnut for the peak of the cone.
I make a lot of tube banjos as openbacks, so I now make my ledges out of Black Walnut in a U-channel, I use 8 pieces.

I noted the butt joints for the lams, but the Maple was really sturdy.

Sep 19, 2022 - 3:50:16 PM
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Players Union Member

Helix

USA

16077 posts since 8/30/2006

Where 1/4” is missing

Sep 19, 2022 - 4:19:05 PM

243 posts since 5/13/2009

Isn't the flange wedge-fitted, as well, and made of brass, rather than zinc?

Sep 19, 2022 - 5:04:03 PM

2466 posts since 9/25/2006

Not a big Stelling fan I'd like to see it done for sure. I do believe Stellings sound more consistent than a Mastertone type banjo. I believe the Wedge fit is a big part of the reason why. Humidity isn't as big a factor with the wedge fit.

Sep 20, 2022 - 6:58:34 AM

banjoez

USA

2460 posts since 7/18/2007

Setup and owned quite a few Stellings throughout the years and even with the consistency of a wedge fit I’ve seen quite a bit of variability in the Stelling sound. I realize setup has a lot to do with it but I’m talking in general terms, some have it and some don’t. Just like every other brand. There's so many other variables besides the tone ring fit.

Edited by - banjoez on 09/20/2022 07:01:14

Sep 20, 2022 - 9:21:47 AM

2675 posts since 9/18/2010

quote:
Originally posted by SamCy

Isn't the flange wedge-fitted, as well, and made of brass, rather than zinc?


It is "wedge fit" and it is bronze, I think. It might be brass, I don't remember for sure.

Sep 21, 2022 - 1:02:12 PM
Players Union Member

Helix

USA

16077 posts since 8/30/2006

The flange on the ‘76. I think was nickel plated zinc and wedge fitted, thus the pyramid

Sep 21, 2022 - 1:45:50 PM
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2158 posts since 11/17/2018

quote:
Originally posted by sunburst
quote:
Originally posted by SamCy

Isn't the flange wedge-fitted, as well, and made of brass, rather than zinc?


It is "wedge fit" and it is bronze, I think. It might be brass, I don't remember for sure.

 


I owned a Starflower from that period, and the flange was nickel plated brass IIRC.

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