News just in from Howard Miller in New South Wales, is that Santa has left him a special treat this year.
It seems Howard has had a yearning for a smaller banjo to keep company with his Stelling 5-string. South Australian luthier Alan Funk, has come to the rescue and produced a baby brother for the family. Howard tells the story:
Christmas is over and Santa put a new Ausgrass 5 string banjo under my Christmas tree, Alan Funk has made a baby brother for my Stelling Superstar arch top banjo, and it is a credit to his skill and enthusiasm. I discussed the possibility of a piccolo 5-string banjo at Harrietville 2009 and there it was in my Christmas stocking.
What does it sound like? Well, being in the next octave it certainly does not need any fancy up the neck nonsense, and so far I have not missed any of the deep notes of the standard five string, although I admit that cobwebs are not on the Stelling. Some tunes really come alive on the baby, others, sure you can play but they are just meant for the lower octave. Cop an earful next time you catch up with me and hear Daybreak in Dixie and Turkey in Straw, like you have never imagined it could sound.
A new force is in the Grass, the banjo plays as fast and sweet as a quality mandolin, matches the finish and appearance of my Stelling, and holds perfect tune out of the case. I am amazed at how much volume comes out of a light, small instrument. I am impatient to get in a jam session with a number of standard tuned banjo’s and really cut through with the almost angelic tones of this Instrument. Don’t look for too many options as far as capos go, I personally avoid them but common keys of A, D and C, can be accessed with a bit of finger magic. Ask me sometime, to play a tune in five different keys without a capo, I have to admit, only some tunes.
Isn’t GREAT to see the Australia insert on the peg head? Alan makes evrything and it really is good. A Great New Year to all – Howard Miller