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Jan 14, 2020 - 6:27:08 PM



28 posts since 11/6/2013

I've gotten some great input over the past week or so on my new (to me) 70's Gibson TB-250. After 8 years of gigging hard on a B&D Special, Christmas brought me a new tenor banjo. :)

Anyway, I've lived by the JJB Electronics banjo pickup for years so put one on the Gibson when I got it.

When I did I noticed two things.

First, I could see the transducers thru the head. The head is a Remo "Banjo Head Only" head which I now know to mean it's a Taiwanese made head. On the B&D, I could NOT see the pickups stuck to the underneath side thru the top. Although it too appears to be a "Banjo Head Only" marked head. Maybe older ones had thicker frosting?

Secondly, the head on the B&D, which is a Remo frosted on the outside head, is worn smooth in the places where my palm/hand hits it so I don't get a lot of rubbing sound thru the electronics anymore. But on the Gibson, with its new head, I can hear it all!

So I'm curious in y'alls thoughts on what head I should put on there. I need less palm/hand noise and I'd prefer to not see the two transducers stuck to the bottom.

Maybe a frosted bottom USA head? But how will the transducers do stuck to a frosted surface?

Maybe a Renaissance that is smooth on the top and bottom? No palm/hand noise and easier to get the pickups to stick long term?

I'm wondering how much head selection impacts tone with those piezos being the main source of sound plugged in too?

Yeah, I'm a bit lost...

Would LOVE if the guys that chimed in on my last post helped out here too! :)

Thanks in advance!

Jan 14, 2020 - 6:52:17 PM
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460 posts since 8/14/2018

The Ren head is slightly translucent, so you likely will see the pickups through it.

Jan 14, 2020 - 7:02:30 PM
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3412 posts since 10/29/2003

Take a look at a Remo bottom frosted head
Smooth on top
Might take care of both issues

Good luck


Jan 14, 2020 - 7:53:08 PM
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437 posts since 6/2/2011

I use the JBJ pick up and have used it on 5 different head A Renaissance head, a top frosted a bottom frosted, clear head and fiber skin head. Using the Locktite putyy to attach The transducer dot pick up and they stick equally well to all five heads possibly a little better on the bottom frosted one but hotter and get off.
My favorite is the renaissance. The pick up does show through but not that noticeable when I place it A half inch behind the bridge. Sometimes just to be a bit crazy I put on the length of LED colored flashing lights the best use for those who is on the clear head and then the trans Duser is just disappear in all the jumble.

Jan 14, 2020 - 8:09:50 PM
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14857 posts since 3/27/2004
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Bob Smakula has the new Remo black suede and white suede heads which will sound a lot like the Ren heads but they are way less translucent.

As far as  hand noise, your JBB is a contact transducer, so it's going to be susceptible to anything that generates noise from the head, including the rubbing of the textured surface.  Bottom frosted heads will help with that, but not eliminate it.

You might think about tying a Jones/Hatfield style magnetic pickup that takes care of the contact noise and also won't be nearly as visible through the head.  These are available as the Fishman magnetic banjo pickup.  They work by picking up movement of a small metal shim either under the head or placed under a bridge foot.  They convert the bridge movement to signal and don't sound anything like a "magnetic pickup" as associated with guitar type pickups. 

Jan 15, 2020 - 6:40:24 AM



28 posts since 11/6/2013

Some great stuff here! Thank you so much!

A friend of mine who plays mandolin but also some tenor banjo and goes to a lot of local Trad Irish sessions also recommended either a suede head or a frosted on the bottom head.

I'm glad to hear my pickup system of choice will stick on the later.

I've thought about trying a different pick-up system through the years, but have had luck with the jjb and have never really got serious enough to change.

But now that I'm messing around with the new banjo maybe a new pickup system is worth a look as well.

Thanks y'all!

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