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Author Topic: Banjo heads?  (Read 1228 times)

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Offline Mark Cordova

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Banjo heads?
« on: Oct 18, 2005, 10:03:31 PM »
A few questions,

How is the head on a banjo measured?
Who sells the best strings for an Irish Tenor Banjo?
Is it easy to replace the head?

Offline feodosia

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Re: Banjo heads?
« Reply #1 on: Oct 20, 2005, 01:16:25 PM »
Mark, Mark

 C'mon , did you forget your favorite banjo player in NJ ?  ;)

9 out of 10 banjos out there have a standard 11 " plastic head
there are a few odd ones out there like 12 " , 8 " , and some of the real old skin-head jobs had variations on sizes , but most banjos are a standard 11 inch head, measured straight across the middle ...

  You just loosen all of those bracket nuts ( you can get a regular banjo wrench for pretty cheap to make the job faster ) , you don't have to take the nuts all the way off, just make the brackets loose enough so that you can pop that thin metal notched hoop ( tension hoop ) off the top of the head. Then the old banjo head lifts off the rim very easily ....   to put a new one on is the reverse operation..execpt that you tighten the brackets back up incremenlty, tightening one bracket alittle bit- then go to it's opposite bracket on the other side, tighten that one alittle ... keep going round and round until everything is nice and snug again..

   I used to make my own Irish tenor banjo strings...  I bough a bunch of GHS single strings and figured out the diameters I needed to make a fiddle tuning- GDAE  ....   Im sure someone must have posted the diameters needed on the web by now.. I can help you look if you want...

   ..... hey, if you'da stayed in NJ  I'd have you being a banjo virtusio by now... I even still got extra banjo heads in my attic I could have given you  ;D
Any help you need just write me , buddy...

Jimmy
   


Offline Mark Cordova

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Re: Banjo heads?
« Reply #2 on: Oct 20, 2005, 02:26:40 PM »
Thanks Jim, You're the greatest!

Offline PeterG

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Re: Banjo heads?
« Reply #3 on: Oct 20, 2005, 02:32:06 PM »
The diameter of the head is measured from the outside edge of the tone ring, with modern banjos generally 11". There is another measurement having to do with the depth of the sides of the head. I think there are 3 sizes. If you go to the stu mac site or just google banjo head you can find out all you need to know. Thats what I did last time. Also, be careful to keep your head straight as you tighten it down. (the banjo head, that is)

Offline feodosia

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Re: Banjo heads?
« Reply #4 on: Oct 20, 2005, 03:15:44 PM »
Hey Mark here's some info I picked off the web about Irish tenor banjo strings..

the diamters sound about right....  I used to buy GHS singles strings and make my own sets...  the bronze wound  strings were nice sounding ...

(1) BUYING STRINGS BY GAUGE

For most of my banjo playing career, I followed the advice of my elders and visited my local music store periodically to re-stock from the "string box" that most of them have carefully hidden behind the counter.

My personal choice of gauges for Irish tuning are as follows:

E = .012 to .014; A = .020 (wound) to .022

D = .030 to .032; G = .042 to .045

Depending on your tailpiece, loop-end strings are preferable to ball-end (loop-end strings above .040 are however not easy to find, leading to that peculiar banjoist ritual involving vises and chisels called "removing the ball"). I like the bronze strings for the brightness, but nickel-wound are perfectly fine.

I find that the shorter the neck, the heavier the gauge I prefer to use. In fact you may want to go higher on the gauge for the G string than .045 - if you do, you might want to try a silk-and-steel variety rather than a plain nickel or bronze.The sound should be a bit less chunky. Good luck on finding any kind of loop-end version, however: chances are that you'll have to do some big-time ball-end adapting if your tailpiece can't accommodate that kind of string.

I'd recommend that if you have the option (= a fairly well-stocked music store), you should string with the heavier gauges first. If they feel a little tough to work with, move to the lighter gauges. Again, it's a matter of feel, and only you know what feels best to you, so feel free to experiment. You shouldn't stray too far from the suggested gauges, however, since strings that vary too much up or down from these gauges might be difficult to tune.

I should also mention the obvious fact that you should have at least three or four of each size string handy (including at least two spares in your case). This rule applies no matter how you purchase the strings. It's like your mom always said - "better safe than sorry".
**************************************************************

  I've switched over to mostly the 5-string banjo now ... irish music playing on the 5-string is harder then then 4 string tenor but I can do some cool stuff on it ...

 Which  all of this is reminding me ,  since Im playing some Civil War gigs I'd better break out my banjo soon and start working on it again  :D

Jimmy
 





 




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