Alex writes:

I have played a Stelling for a long time and I like it very much, but I’m shopping around for another high quality banjo with different tonal characteristics. I’m thinking of a Huber. Do you have any advice for me? Any other brands you think maybe I should look at?


Alex,

I tend to like Gibsons. There are many now to choose from. Deering makes some nice sounding models, as does Ome. I have heard some good sounding Kel Kroydons and Recording Kings. Quite a fine choice nowadays, certainly including Huber, and there are more I haven’t named.

Ideally, you would go to a showroom and try out a lot of the choices. Unfortunately, it’s hard to find such a thing. Curtis McPeake in the Nashville area, and Elderly Instruments in Michigan carry a large stock. Otherwise, it can help to go to places where there are a lot of banjos being played, such as a festival or a banjo camp. If you are forward enough to strike up conversations with the owners, you might be able to try their banjos and get some advice.

All that said, be aware that there are two really big variables besides the banjo itself– the player and the way the instrument is set up. Such things as head tension and thickness, and type of bridge can make a pretty large difference in the way a banjo sounds, and those variables can be controlled by the owner. Then it’s up to the player to create the sound he/she wants with careful use of their hands! I believe that a good player can get a good sound they like on any of a variety of banjos, and that will happen once they acquire that banjo and start coaxing their favorite sounds from it.

Sorry I can’t be more specific than this, but I hope it helps!

Pete Wernick