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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Head tension.

Please note this is an archived topic, so it is locked and unable to be replied to. You may, however, start a new topic and refer to this topic with a link:

billy moore - Posted - 02/04/2019:  11:42:57

Has anyone ever had a banjo that g# just sounded too loose and tubby? And when it is sounding good, it sounds like a Bb when tapped? Sometimes I’m not sure I’m hearimg the right note on the this banjo. Maybe I should try a drum dial. It seems that it’s really loose when I hear a g#. I could be hearimg overtones maybe?

steve davis - Posted - 02/04/2019:  11:46:24

This tension (a dime under a 6" ruler) taps as a G# note just as the dime gets snug.2" mark at bridge.
It's a good way to learn to hear the head note.


Aradobanjo - Posted - 02/04/2019:  11:54:25


Yes. The Drum Dial is an aid.

Bart Veerman - Posted - 02/04/2019:  12:37:16

A lot of people, myself included, and electronic tuners cannot hear the tap note properly.

For me a drum dial is indispensable.

steve davis - Posted - 02/04/2019:  12:57:56

Once you find a tone you like and measure bridge deflection with a coin and ruler you have a repeatable tension and tone for the future changes.

jenorma1 - Posted - 02/04/2019:  13:06:58

I can usually convince myself that almost any note is coming out of my banjo head when I tap it : ) Therefore, I've resulted to the drumdial as well. In case you're interested, I wrote a blogpost about head tension, which includes some playing examples at different tensions, on my website:

Finding the right head tension for a 12" banjo (

Oldpiper - Posted - 02/04/2019:  15:42:04

I happen to have a drum dial that I don't use any more and would sell it.

billy moore - Posted - 02/04/2019:  16:46:43

Thanks guys. Old piper how much would you let it go for?

arnie fleischer - Posted - 02/04/2019:  17:21:55

I think a tapped or drum dialed head note should be used more as a reference point instead of as a goal. Trust your ears, then trust your fingers. The head will be tight enough for you when the banjo sounds the way you want it to. It will also feel a certain way that you can learn to recognize.

Oldpiper - Posted - 02/04/2019:  17:22:13

Billy Moore - I PM'd you.

jasonlampel - Posted - 02/04/2019:  18:08:17

Hey Billy, I have an extra drum dial You can have. I’m in Aptos, you can pick it up if I’m here or I can even leave it for you if I’m at work.

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