Wednesday, November 18, 2009 @7:52:01 AM
I have a nice short scale banjo with a Whyte Layde tone-ring ... but Ive always been disappointed with the sound .... instead of bright and snappy, it has always sounded muted, sustained , and with a very annoying cheapy-hollow sound ....like those $ 50 beginner aluminum rim banjos you might find at a flea market.
I thought that it might be because of a rather thin-looking rim ...and I was having the idea of sending it off to have a thick rim made for it , to see if the sound would improve ...
Last night I got the brainstorm of taking the Whyte Layde tone-ring off the banjo and looking to see if any cheap aluminum parts were substituted inside... but no, the Whyte Layde style tone-ring was made of all good heavy metal. So before I put the banjo back together , I look at the plastic banjo head that came with the banjo ...
Im an oldtimer, and I figure that a plastic banjo head is a plastic banjo head, right ? All the same ?
The head that came with it is one of those newer types I never had before.. ...the renaissance , I think they call it ... kinda cloudy and tannish color .
Well , I had one last clear plastic head left and I put it on this banjo last night ... Wow ! What a difference ! The regular plastic head lets the Whyte Layde sing out the way she was meant to ! That Ren head was absolutelly just KILLING the sound of this banjo .... if you want that hollow and sustainy sound like that , its alot cheaper just to buy a cheap aluminum rim banjo ....not take an expensive instrument and dumb it down by putting on a head that is too thick to vibrate .... I can't figure out why someone would put one of these ren heads on a Whyte layde ... oh well , seems like I'm fixing the problem now , with a just a simple banjo head replacement ....
Id rather have a bright and powerful banjo that I can adjust for the playing situation .... you see , if this banjo is too bright for a particualr jam , I can knock down the vibrations by stuffing the head...and vary the sound by changing or moving the stuffing to different locations... there are situations where you need some brightness and power to come from your banjo .... with the ren head I was getting yelled at in an Irish session for having too " dead " of a sound .. they wanted brightness... with a bright sounding banjo , if I were to play 1 one 1 with a fiddler though , I would stuff it down to get the volume and tone needed for the situation .
A couple of years ago I did a few gigs on one of those river boats ...they are floating restaurants ...with a big paddle wheel on the back ... I was told to play acoustically ....and guess at what end of the boat ? The paddle end .. ha ... I was happy because I felt like John Hartford back there with my banjo .... the ren headed banjo would have never cut through the din ...those paddles are loud !!
So, even after all of these years of playing banjo Im still learning stuff ...
Banjo heads have alot more to do with the sound then I thought .
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