adrian is rad


banjo head tension?

Filed under: — adrian @ 11:02 am

So I finally put a new head (Remo Renaissance) on my strange-sized banjo (11 1/8″ medium crown, a 11 3/16″ would probably have fit slightly better). I put the bridge and strings on and tuned it up and it sounds pretty good. It’s not all that loud though and the bridge looks like it’s sagging in the middle a bit. I’m thinking I haven’t tensioned the head enough. How do I know how much to tension the head? Tarky? Andy? Jesse? Anyone else? Also, is it safe to just tune the strings down a bunch and then tension the head more or should I take the strings and bridge off first?

2 Responses to “banjo head tension?”

  1. Jesse Says:

    I’ve never done it. but I think you want it tuned to something that sounds loud when you play it like a drum, like actually hitting the head. and be careful not to land dead on a note that plays a lot like an open string or it will probably resonate really loud for that note and not as loud for other notes and that would sound funny. I’m guessing that if you leave the bridge on you won’t be able to tell much by playing the head like a drum. boy I said a lot about something I don’t know!

  2. Tark Says:

    You can leave the strings on, but pop the bridge out. If you tension the head with the bridge on you’ll risk popping it.

    I’ve replaced mine once, and just really tightened the hell out of it until it barely deflected when I pushed on it. Maybe like 1/4″ – 1/2″ deflection in the center. If your bridge is sagging it’s definitely too lo0se. When I bought my banjo, it was “set up” by Adam at Sandy’s — who is the repair whiz there — and that head was as hard as a rock.

    With the strings tuned properly, my bridge makes a barely perceptible dent into the head. Anything more than that isn’t set up right.

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