Tristan Scroggins demonstrates his F-style mandolin.
by Teja Gerken
June 09, 2017
Stelling Banjo Works builds some of the finest contemporary banjos around, but it is not as well-known for its mandolins, which it has been building since 1979. But that may soon change, since a 1992 Stelling S-5 mandolin has been seen and heard a lot lately in the hands of up-and-coming bluegrass mandolinist and 2016 IBMA Monumentum Award nominee Tristan Scroggins, who stopped by the Peghead Nation video studio recently to demonstrate his mandolin.
Tristan, who plays with his father, Jeff Scroggins, in Jeff Scroggins and Colorado, has had a long-standing affinity for Stelling instruments (his father plays one of the company’s banjos). When he came across this S-5 at Arvada, Colorado’s Olde Town Pickin’ Parlor, it was love at first sight. Tristan’s mandolin (serial number 84) was built as a matched pair with number 85 by Stelling luthier John Hamlet. “John wanted to make two mandolins that were identical, so he used all the same wood for the top, back, and sides, and even the fingerboard,” Tristan said. “He finished them side-by-side, and was trying to make them the same. He said that when he was done, people couldn’t tell the difference, no matter who was playing it.” The instrument is built in the classic F-5 style, with a spruce top, highly figured maple back and sides, and traditional appointments, and Tristan strings it with Straight Up Strings.
Besides playing with Jeff Scroggins and Colorado, Tristan uses the Stelling in his duo with fiddler Alisa Rose, and it’s featured on their new release Grana. Check out their performance of the album’s title track in this video. stellingbanjo.com, tristanscroggins.com
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