Banjo Hangout Logo
Banjo Hangout Logo

Premier Sponsors

Banjo Lovers Online

2015 PREMOUNTED HIDE HEAD - Price List and available options

Posted by jbalch on Thursday, December 11, 2014

like this

Grade:                                                                 Price us$

  • Stern Tanning Premium Grade                 $95.00

  • JDBalch SPECIAL Select  Calf                 $85.00

  • JDBalch SPECIAL Select  Goat                $75.00

  • JDBalch 4-star Natural Goat                    $ 60.00

  • JDBalch 3-star Goat or Calf                      $50.00

  • Staining add:                                           $  5.00

  • Hand-applied Wax protectant  add:          $  2.00

  • Sheepskin banjo stuffer                          $  5.00

  • US Postage & handling                               $  5.00

  • International postage                                contact for quote

Prices effective January 1, 2015 (subject to change)

 Premounted head sizes (price is the same for all available sizes):

  • 10 15/16” (Vega)
  • 11”
  • 11 13/16" (Vega)
  • 12”

Other sizes are available as custom-mounted heads.  This requires you sending your rim (including tone ring, tension hoop, & hooks & nuts) for fitting.  Cost is the same as a pre-mount – plus the actual return postage. Contact me for details.


I stain with coffee, tea, or sometimes a special, natural walnut extract produced by Dan Knowles (based on availability).  I prefer these organic colors because they blend well with just about all wood tones. Store bought stains are sometimes unnatural looking and don't always match different wood types. Stained heads are each unique and the appearance of any individual hide is unpredictable.


SofSole brand leather waterproofer is sprayed on top and back surface. There is no charge for this.

Wax protectant:

This is an optional surface treatment applied to the top after the head is dry and waterproofed (if applicable).  The wax is clear and colorless.  There is no impact on tone.  It is really hardly noticeable ... but adds a layer of protection against soiling.  It is especially useful on stained heads mounted with the flesh side on top (for best color).  It adds a very subtle sheen to the flesh for an improved look and feel.


Premium (calf or goat)  - Stern Tanning Co.  Stern tanning produces highest-grade, machine-sanded, calf and goat hides for drum and banjo heads. Stern hides feature very precise, even, thickness (for maximum tonal response).  These are comparable to the best heads of the bygone era. Please e-mail for availability.

Stern Tanning Co. History: In 1939, Joseph Stern, and son Theodore, purchased a tannery in Sheboygan Falls, WI. The company was known for producing sheepskins for clothing. In 1991, Jeff Stern joined his grandfather and father in the family business.  In 2001, Jeff bought Chicago-based United Rawhide Co. which historically produced calfskin drum and banjo heads for Slingerland, Ludwig and others. Jeff continues producing the best hides in the traditional manner.

JDBalch SPECIAL Select goat or calfskin heads are individually chosen for unique appearance.  Most are mottled with a mix of translucent opaque areas. Less than 10% of the hides I receive are selected for this grade.  They are offered as available and supply is very limited.  Photos of the hide will be provided before mounting. SPECIAL Select hides receive an additional, hand-applied, wax finish to protect appearance.  Please see listings in the Banjo Hangout classifieds or contact me for availability.

JDBalch 4-star goat heads are my preferred and most popular grade.  These are what I choose for most of my personal banjos.  4-star heads are selected to have more consistent thickness, and better appearance. 4-star heads will have fewer blemishes or flaws.  Natural imperfections are generally small and inconsequential.

JDBalch 3-star goat or calfskin heads are my standard quality.  These are reliable heads that sound very good.  3-star heads may have natural cosmetic blemishes, slight variations in thickness, or small flaws that should not affect integrity or performance.

 Photos of various types here:

 Photos of mounting process and more:

My comments on head tension here:

These heads are produced with natural hides.  Because of factors beyond my control, I cannot provide a warranty against breakage, stretching, etc.  However, if you experience ANY problems with this head, please contact me.  I will pursue all reasonable means to provide a resolution.

5 comments on “2015 PREMOUNTED HIDE HEAD - Price List and available options”

rubicon Says:
Thursday, December 11, 2014 @7:41:08 AM

Good morning John is the wax protectant you refer to different from the waterproofer treatment you have used in the past ?

jbalch Says:
Thursday, December 11, 2014 @9:21:32 AM

Yes. This is an additional product applied to the top surface to help maintain the appearance. I've been using it on some of my banjos for a while now to test. It is completely clear and colorless...and has no impact on tone. It is very subtle ... really hardly noticeable. But it does give a slightly smoother surface and helps protect against soiling and staining. I think it is especially helpful on coffee stained heads mounted with the flesh side up (for greater color). On those heads, this wax provides smoother surface and very slight gloss that improves the appearance.

jbalch Says:
Thursday, December 11, 2014 @9:28:27 AM

The wax is applied - after waterproofer spray.

rubicon Says:
Thursday, December 11, 2014 @9:51:55 AM

Ok John thank you sounds good .

DEmery Says:
Friday, December 12, 2014 @3:31:28 AM

Unless somebody wants to stretch hides typically from one ordered from an unknown source; this is a bargain. I know there is an amount of heads in your orders that simply don't make the cut for a BHH. I want one of those special, real good'ens to go on the Burns Slot Head. This time around I would like something a little more earthy. The current head is still perfect but since there is little slot range cut into the neck it should have a "low" crown to allow for seating without bottoming out. David E.

You must sign into your myHangout account before you can post comments.

More posts from jbalch

Newest Posts

Click for Details 'J & K RAG' 40 min

Click for Details 'Dave. Cava' 1 hr

More >  

Hangout Network Help

View All Topics  |  View Categories