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Stelling Banjos: Difference in sound from stock rims and the Pass rim

Sep 24, 2022 - 7:35:33 AM
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4 posts since 4/30/2020

I'll be picking up a Masters Cross next month (10/22/ 22 ). Seller has both rims. I believe the stock one is maple and a mahogany rim. I've not heard them. What can i expect the difference in sound to be? I would think the harder the wood, the louder the punch.



Sep 24, 2022 - 8:53:21 AM

4031 posts since 9/21/2009

Yes the maple rims are usually brighter than the Pass rims. I have a 1996 Red Fox that has the Cooperman rim and I have heard it played along with a Red Fox withe the Pass rim. Both sound great, just a little difference in tone.

Sep 24, 2022 - 10:51:38 AM
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2460 posts since 7/18/2007

The Block TP Rims are usually Birch (not Mahogany) unless he special ordered it. Prior to 2003 they used 3 ply Maple rims (mostly). I had a couple of Sunflowers at one time together to compare. One was a 1999 with the maple 3 ply Cooperman rim and the other was a 2004 with the TP block rim and the difference was noticeable. The 1999 seemed a bit heavier and had what I would call a somewhat more crisp tone but lacked some depth. The sound seemed to come right off the head. The TP rim Sunflower had more warmth and depth and seemed to come from deeper down more like a Mastertone style banjo. They both had good volume. Dare I say the TP rims give Stellings a bit more Mastertone-like warmth than the older rims. Setup can vary many of these attributes however and a Stelling is VERY sensitive to the tiniest changes. They can drive you nuts LOL!

Sep 24, 2022 - 11:28:01 AM
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4 posts since 4/30/2020

"The Block TP Rims are usually Birch (not Mahogany) unless he special ordered it. Prior to 2003 they used 3 ply Maple rims (mostly). "


Now that you say birch, that sounds right.  He did say mahogany block.   He prefers the birch. I'd like to know biggest difference.    I'm a newer player so I don't know what warmth and depth refers to.  But, I'm enjoying the journey. 

Sep 24, 2022 - 12:01:51 PM
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2687 posts since 9/18/2010

My personal preference:
I like the sound of the Cooperman 3 ply rims after Stewmac quit supplying rims for Stelling. I never really liked the TP block rims, and the post Stewmac Cooperman rims remain my favorite. The block rims are too harsh sounding to my ear YMMV.
Also, from a structural standpoint there are a lot of good reasons for a 3-ply laminated rim.

Sep 24, 2022 - 12:06:29 PM

213 posts since 5/27/2008

Most Stellings retrofitted with Pass rims didn't get the original rim back. I guess it may not have been 100%. But Tony Pass would sell Stelling style block rims to anyone if I remember.

Edited by - notty pine on 09/24/2022 12:10:36

Sep 26, 2022 - 5:23:31 PM
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1941 posts since 4/10/2005

It's as subjective as wine-tasting. Some find the Tony Pass Thinskirt rims give more low end. Some find on top of the augmented low end, that they sound warmer. I've seen commenters here finding the Tony Pass Thinskirt maple Stellings less bright or "shrill" than those with the 1970s/80s block rim or the later 3-plys. I've seen other commenters here finding the TP Thinkskirt maple Stellings TOO warm and missing their bite. It's all subjective.

Oct 3, 2022 - 5:47:14 PM

15102 posts since 2/7/2003

Except in the beginning when Tonys rims were submerged maple early on he switched to submered birch which is all he used

When Geoff first started using them it was an option and he noticed when final testing the banjos when ever he got one without Tonys rim it just didnt sound right to him and he took that as a sign and switched to have Tonys rims standard

Oct 3, 2022 - 10:59:32 PM
Players Union Member



903 posts since 6/29/2007

I have a golden cross with a tp rim. I haven't compared it with the block rim, but it is the best sounding banjo I have played. I also have a Deering Calico and a prewar, but my go to banjo is the Stelling. I'm not sure if it's mostly the rim or the ring, but Stelling makes magic.

Oct 9, 2022 - 9:27:12 PM

59 posts since 11/7/2008

It will depend on how you set it up too , tighter your head is , more powerful , bright and more punchy tone you’ll have .. at least that’s my experience with all that tone stuff … however, to me all Stellings sound great , the one that really knocked my socks off was 1977 Bellflower with Stelling block rim …

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