Tony Pass, R.I.P.

Noted banjo craftsman Tony Pass has died after suffering for many months with cancer.

He was the designer of the popular Tony Pass rims, noted for their block construction. The wood used was timber reclaimed after having been submerged at the bottom of Lake Superior for over 100 years.

As opposed to fabricating banjo rims from slats, steam-bent into shape, Tony’s rims were cut from a specially-built block, assembled by gluing smaller blocks of wood together. This allowed the rims to be made with thinner walls, resulting in a lighter weight component.

Tony made the rims that were installed on all new Stelling banjos, and offered retrofit rims for both Stelling and Mastertone style banjo pots.

When his illness required that he step aside from the business last year, Tony sold the company to his long-time partner, Keebey Schaeffer, who will continue to operate the company.

In addition to being an innovator in the 5 string world, Tony was a friend to all banjo players, and leaves behind a legacy of warmth and kinship. His was a life well-lived.

Rest in peace, Tony Pass.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.