Stelling (used, 1990 December) Red Fox Custom

Tag No 59-0395 Used

#3675, fancy cherry wood, in excellent condition with original hard shell case.

This banjo's un-submitted registration card reads:   “Bill Emerson Red Fox Custom, made 12/4/90, #3675 . . . nickel plated, abalone inlaid thumb screws.”  In the pocket of the case, in addition to the warranty card, is a letter from Bill Emerson (bearing his facsimile signature) that congratulates the owner and says that the Virginia-grown cherry wood was chosen for its stability and sound, the cherry is darkened by a unique Stelling oxidation process and then sprayed with 12 to 15 coats of special finish and hand-polished to super high gloss.   A second sheet explains “Stelling’s Set-Up System.”  This early model had the inlaid Stelling headstock logo with twin leaves above the logo, then a large inlay of a Red Fox facing east with his ears peaked up as if to say “What the heck is that sound – could that be a banjo?” The fingerboard is inlaid on frets 1, 3, 5, 7, 10, 12, 15, 17, and 22 with a varied leaf pattern and on the 19th with a block etched “Bill Emerson Red Fox Custom.” 

All tuners are geared with large mother of pearl buttons; each of the four thumbscrews are inlaid with abalone dots; each of the two sides of the resonator is abalone bordered and so is the fingerboard on two sides.   The walnut on the back of the resonator and back of neck show some curl but the sides are considerably curlier.   Though this banjo was seldom played (it shows no notable sign of wear) it does show minor signs of dryness.  The finish on the back of the resonator shows the grain striations of the wood when examined in a light reflection.  The headstock has that same sort of “contraction” of the finish look. This is typical of many stored instruments and is not considered a structural issue. The Stelling Red Fox has always been one of our favorite models.   Here before you is a very early one, custom made to unique specifications, well preserved (as is the fox) and ready for four to six  more generations of fancy fingerwork.  

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