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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Changing to a smooth head on my Archtop


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AKUSfan2 - Posted - 03/31/2009:  08:01:10


Folks,
Like most banjo pickers, I gotten the bug to tinker a little.
No, NOT on my Stelling!

Folks-On my Sullivan Archtop. It has a First Qual frosted head on it, and I'm going to see if I can nudge it a little towards the "Ralph Stanley" sound.

So, I called Murrell at First Quality, and had him send me a FQMS white smooth head.

I have a Drum Dial, so maybe this job will be easier for me.

Question #1-
If I take some readings on the current "frosted" and say they range (in deflection) around ".091, .092" or so.
Now, I remove that head and carefully install the new "smooth white" head, and make my initial tightening sequences, over the next day or two.
I'm in no big hurry and this will allow the new head to "settle in" SLOWLY! Keep in mind, that I'm real good at breaking new heads by being in a big hurry and over-tightening them too fast!

Now, later this week, I start taking drum dial measurements, and "tap tuning" towards a "G" or even towards an "A" (ever so slowly).

When I get "in the ball park" should I try to achieve my original ".091" deflection that I had on my original "frosted head", or, do I have to use new numbers specific to this new "smooth white" head?
In other words, will this new head have different "head tension numbers" specfic to it?

Question #2- what would be the general "desired" tap tuning goal for what most pickers consider that "Ralph Stanley" sound?
Would it be "G", or "A", or "A#", or even headed towards a "B".

I know that it's tight, but "how tight"? And don't say, "when it breaks, back-off a 1/4 turn"!

Gary Phelps
St. Louis, MO. 63129

2007 Stelling Sunflower Serial # 6393
Gibson Masterclone RB-250 with Sullivan Rim and Sullivan archtop.

Blake507 - Posted - 03/31/2009:  09:00:55


I would take it to 88-89 and play it for a while. 88-89 should be in the range of a G. Then after a month of playing check it and tap it, then take it to a G# or A if you think that is the sound you want. I prefer a G#.

Whether picked, hammered, or plugged-in, the banjo lives on.
Carpe Banjo!

Blake507
Danny Brown
Swayback Ranch
Blanket, TX

Retropicker - Posted - 04/01/2009:  03:57:54


That's going to be one bright banjo. A guy out here has a similair set up bowtie. The only thing I'd warn on is understand how loud it is. Alot of good players wont play with him in smaller jam sessions becaus he steps all over them. He's a real good picker too. I think he's just def from picking it ;)

Being a Stelling picker I figure you already know how to reign in a cannon.

____Keep the hay in Bluegrass__________________________

banjer5 - Posted - 04/01/2009:  06:29:14


I luv archtops and I also like em set up to be real bright. I do not use a gauge to measure tightness but find that my head is a bit tighter than my flathead. I typically also use a smooth head (no frosting). I also tune my head tightness to the sound I'm looking for. Be sure to leave the tailpiece high enough to avoid quenching the sound. She will bark fer ya.

Fast Freddy the engineer says: Throttle in RUN 8 and highball, then don''t look back, something might be gainin'' on ya. 73,s de K5BGZ



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