How To Tighten Your Banjo Head

TOOLS NEEDED:

T-wrench:

  • 9/32” for Goodtime banjo/Boston
  • ¼” for Deering resonator banjos
  • 5/16” For openback Deering models

 

BASICS OF BANJO HEAD TENSION:

  • The banjo head typically has a firm tension.
  • For those of you with experience and a great ear, factory recommendations are to tighten it between G and G# on our frosted top heads.
  • For the rest of us this means that the banjo head should give just a little to gentle pressure from our hand and the bridge should definitely look like it is sitting on a flat surface. This gives your banjo a bright, sparkling, ringing tone that is what most (but not ALL) people think of when it comes to the sound of a banjo.
  • If the bridge is sitting in a valley, it is time to tighten the head tension unless you want a very warm sound.
  • The banjo head is held in place by a tension hoop which sits around the perimeter of the banjo head, and anywhere from 16-24 brackets/j-hooks around the edge, held in place by hex nuts at their base. These hooks and nuts are the “tension producers.” When you tighten the hex nut, the hook pulls down on the tension hoop, tightening the head.

 

TIGHTENING THE HEAD TENSION:

  • If you want to go to the opposite tonal spectrum, tightening the head above G#, say to A, where it is rock hard to the touch.
  • You get a really super bright sound with good note distinction but less bass response.
  • You don’t want to go beyond A as the head will be so stiff that it cannot vibrate readily. You will generally hear a sound that is less full, is sharper, or what some people refer to as “tinny.”
  • Insert the nut into the wrench socket. Start by tightening the tension only 1/8 turn at a time on all hooks.
  • Use the logo as the 12 o’clock position. Start at 12 and move to 6; go clockwise then counter clockwise.
  • Go ONLY 1/8 turn on those hex nuts at a time to prevent “popping” or breaking the banjo head.
  • More good information on head tightening can be found on our website, www.deeringbanjos.com in our online maintenance manuals in the “Support” section.

 

LOOSENING THE HEAD TENSION:

  • If you loosen the head tension, your head will not vibrate as readily nor transmit as much energy to the rest of the post assembly (rim, tone ring, head, hooks/nuts, tailpiece, armrest, maybe resonator and flange).
  • You will loosen the tension by backing off the tension on the hex nuts at the base of the hooks using the t-wrench.
  • Insert the nut into the wrench socket. Start by loosening the tension only 1/8 turn at a time on all hooks.
  • Use the logo as the 12 o’clock position. Start at 12 and move to 6; go clockwise then counter clockwise.
  • This reduction in tension results in a warmer, less bright, or plunkier sound. HOW MUCH it changes depends on how much you loosen the head.
  • Keep it firm enough to hold the bridge in place as there are other methods to mute the banjo further. Old timey frailers know these other tricks very well. They realize if you muffle the sound of the head, you create a banjo that is not only less loud but gives you a warm, deep tone with sustain. I have heard of players using foam blocks in the pot assembly, a rolled up rag, an old CD with a coating of bubble wrap, a mute on the bridge, you name it.
April 20, 2012 by Carolina Bridges
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Comments

IT技术园地

IT技术园地 said:

[…] How To Tighten Your Banjo Head | Deering Banjos BlogCopyright © 2012 IT技术园地. All Rights Reserved. […]

Carolina

Carolina said:

Thanks, Ronnie for writing. I am happy to hear you are adding a Deering 6-string to your instruments.
Glad you enjoy the newsletter and articles. :-)

Ronnie Evans

Ronnie Evans said:

Thanks Carolina…from North Carolina, for the newsletter and banjo tips. I’m receiving my Deering Boston B6 six string banjo next week and I am anxious to try the many Carolina mountain songs I now play on guitar. I will no doubt be following the newsletters and support for more tips and technical support about the B6.

I have just released my 10th guitar music CD “Cool Guitars” a ‘50s & ’60s tribute album. I recently began my 3rd year performing at the Smoky Mountain Host Visitor’s Center, and expect I will be soon playing the Deering B6 six string there.

Thanks,
Ronnie Evans
Franklin, NC

Ronnie Evans
F

Delta Blog

Delta Blog said:

Tighten And Tone From Head…

[…] ep tone with sustain. I have heard of players using foam blocks in the pot assem […]…

Don Burriss

Don Burriss said:

a pleasure to read your new format……….good stuff and videos to boot

Thanks for your efforts on behalf os all I’’m sure !!

Carolina

Carolina said:

Yes, frailing/oldtimey players oftentimes use foam blocks in the pot assembly to mute the sound of the banjo.

Devlinski

Devlinski said:

I’m assuming that you do all of this adjustment with bridge and strings “removed?”….Also “G” to “G” sharp..is this the same note with all tenor banjos regardless of head diametre?

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