Picture album

For a while now, I've been meaning to post about my new banjo. I realize that I don't talk about banjos nearly enough here. With the addition of this latest one, I now have four. Why four, you ask? Ah. It is better to say Why not five?.

There is no such thing as too much banjo.

But on to my new purchase. After much logical and astute reasoning (read: 'whining and pleading'), I convinced my Bride that I would only be a complete human being if I could purchase a Stelling. (your awe goes here)

For the banjo-illiterate (and you know who you are), let me explain. Stelling Banjos are hand-crafted instruments of perfection, used by some of the most famous of banjo players. Kind of like the Stradivarius of the banjo world. Only with five strings. And more likely to be played by someone with kinfolk named "Bubba" and/or living in trailers.

After much deliberation and consultation with the fine people at Janet Davis Music (who are, it must be said, the best people in the business for all your acoustic stringed instrument needs), I settled on the Stelling Master's Cross (Geoff Stelling is a born-again Christian, and the care and work he uses in this banjo to celebrate his faith are absolutely astounding). I ordered it, along with a bomb-proof custom case for transportation, and sat back to wait. And wait. And wait. It took nearly four months from the initial call to receive, as he makes them pretty much to order.

It was worth the wait.

As banjos go, this is an absolute work of art, and immensely playable. It's as responsive as it is beautiful, and has fortunately made me want to practice even more than before.

Because I knew you'd be interested, I took my camera out to document it. However, I never seemed to quite get around to taking pictures. But we can pretend, and I'll offer the color commentary to help you along.

Me opening the packaging on the Stelling. Note my tears of joy. I am not afraid of my feelings.

Me playing my new Stelling. If pictures captured sound there would be rainbows and sparkles

Me telling the lady at the airline check-in that this banjo was more precious than that baby checking in over there in Coach class. Sure they were a little shocked, but the parents of the kid agreed with me when they saw my new Stelling

Me explaining to the customs agent in the UK that I've owned this banjo for years. Customs? VAT? No, no. These are not the droids you are looking for.

My Bride telling me that the Stelling is not allowed in the bed with us. Even if it is really just that beautiful.

My classmates in banjo practice oohing and ahhing at my new Stelling. Everyone had a go on it, and agreed that it is more beautiful than the kid in Coach class.

My buddy in class stepping on the neck of my new Stelling, cracking it. Note how my eyes have come completely out of their sockets.

Me, vomiting

My buddy, vomiting

Me at the repair shop, asking how long I'd have to wait to see my Stelling again


The answer? About 3 weeks. Sigh...

Actually, the damage wasn't that bad - the 5th peg popped out and split the wood a bit, but nothing irreparable. It was a complete accident, of course, and these things happen. (My buddy felt worse than I ever could have about the whole thing, depsite my repeated assurances that it's nothing a couple of free pints at the pub can't fix)

But that's why I've not taken pictures of my beautiful new Stelling. I promise I will once it's back in my possession again.

You'll recognize them from the death grip I have on the instrument and the wary glance I'm giving to anyone within fifteen feet.