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Gimme Some Skin!

Posted by Stev187 on Monday, January 8, 2007

Okay, tonight is the night.  I am installing a new calfskin head on my banjo.  Julia and I took it apart this afternoon, and that was easier than I imagined it would be.  I hope it goes back together just as easily.

 A Couple of Links

Let's start off with a couple of helpful links.  I purchased the med/thin off-white calfskin head from Bill Martin, member here at BHO.  I also purchased an 11" flesh hoop from him.  Here's a link:

Bill was super nice to work with--he recommended the right skin for me (even listened to my playing to figure it out).  The flesh hoop fit great, and the skin was in great shape.

The most helpful link I found with directions for installing is on the Stewart-MacDonald web site:

The smiling face of Dan Levenson was a real help.  He seems to be saying "You can do this--it's no big deal, really" with his eyes.  I found that a few steps outlined in the directions were unnecessary (the clothespins, the support stand, etc.)  Also, Bill recommends wetting the head for only a couple of minutes, instead of the 15 suggested by Stew-Mac.  I followed Bill's advice, and the head was plenty flexible during the 40 minutes I had to tangle with it.

For me, the hardest part was getting the tension hoop over the tonering/head.  I think I would have had this problem with a plastic head.  It is really tight!  I had to use some not-so-gentle methods of persuasion to get it on (rubber mallet, wood clamps, etc.).  The wood clamp finally allowed me to get some purchase on all of the tension hooks.  I got the thing relatively even with about 1/3 of the tension hoop over the rim while watching TV with my wife.  Now it needs to dry overnight.

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