I just received a supply of premium calf hides from Jeff Stern at Stern Tanning Co.
As I’ve written here before, in my opinion these are the BEST hides available and truly comparable to premium brands from the golden era. Jeff’s hides are machine sanded to precise thickness (even thickness improves the tune ability and tone). In an additional step from standard processing, my supply has been buffed for a VERY SMOOTH (glossy) top surface (This reduces surface noise and provides an elegant feel)
If you want a brand new calfskin head ~ very comparable to vintage Rogers, Slingerland or Ludwig brands ~ this is it. These heads are ideal for a collectable pre-war banjo or any modern instrument. I will offer them pre-mounted in 11” and 12” sizes. I can also supply them un-mounted in 14" and 16" sizes for you to do-it-yourself. Contact me for prices.
I learned about Jeff from a longtime friend (and former band mate) who has a PHD in percussion and teaches in the music department of a major university. He also performs with symphony orchestras and the opera. In his capacity as an educator and performer, my friend uses and recommends Stern drum heads.
I gleaned this information from online articles and conversations with Jeff Stern:
Stern Tanning Co. produces sheepskins, goat , and calf hides for shoes, lampshades, furniture, rugs and other goods. They also specialize in processing calfskin for premium drum and banjo heads.
History: In 1939, Joseph Stern , and his son Theodore, purchased a tannery in Sheboygan Falls, WI. Joseph and Theodore Stern, who had fled Hungary prior to WWII, renamed their business the Anglo-American Tanning Co. It thrived by providing sheepskins for mouton jackets, which were popular throughout the 1940s and '50s.
In 1991, Jeff Stern joined the family business, by then known as Theodore Stern Tanning Co. Eventually Jeff created his company, Stern Tanning Co. In 2001, Stern Tanning bought Chicago-based United Rawhide, which for many decades, made calfskin drum and banjo heads for Slingerland, Ludwig and others.
Stern drum heads are preferred by musicians seeking an authentic vintage sound. His high-grade heads are suitable for premier orchestral instruments which demand very strict tolerances for thickness and quality.
Stern produces a limited number of hides for banjo heads. His clientele includes custom banjo builders, select retailers, and discerning musicians.
UPDATE: I just mounred the first of these on David Emery's beautiful SS Stewart Thoroughbred. It looks and sounds great (IMHO)
Friday, September 28, 2012 @3:33:49 PM
Impressive credentials and recommendations for the Stern Company, John. I think it also takes an experienced eye to be able to discern the superior products from the middle-of-the-road offerings. Your endorsement and involvement carry a lot of weight in my mind.
Friday, September 28, 2012 @3:36:25 PM
They really are a very high quality head, best I've seen since the best of the Rogers. Please reserve an 11" one for me John. Thanks, Glenn
Bill Anderson Says:
Saturday, September 29, 2012 @7:53:46 AM
John, I also want an 11" pre-mounted. Not sure what it's going on at this time.
Also, I want one of your mostly translucent heads pre-mounted to go on a nominal 11" HC Dobson Silver Bell.....Thanks, Bill
Monday, October 1, 2012 @11:22:12 AM
I'd love to get a premount in an 11 13/16" size. As you know, that is the head size of the so called large Vega pots. I suspect there'd be a pretty good market for them. If not, I can do it myself. I'm more than satisfied with the skin I got from Bill Miller, but I'd try a Stern if I could get another flesh hoop to mount it on.
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