I was watching this film folkstreams.net/film-detail.php?id=183 today and at one point (about 11 minutes in) the presenter looks at various banjos held by the Smithsonian institute. One made by a drum maker has a stretched skin on both the front and the rear. Has anyone tried this & if so what is the effect on the sound?
Edited by - Nickcd on 02/28/2020 06:27:01
George Wunderlich made some banjos with heads installed on he back side of rhe rim. I have never played one. I found this example online:
Edited by - jbalch on 02/28/2020 07:52:14
The one in the film interestingly seemed to have a double ended hook assembly with tension hoops on both the front and back.
William Boucher of Baltimore made banjos like that-- there were other early builders that did it too. If you look at the William Sidney Mount painting "The Banjo Player" he is playing a banjo that has a rear head, likely made by/for Boucher.
I've played many (mostly made by George Wunderlich) built that way. They sound fine. when set up and played correctly in a historically informed manner they are loud and clear with good tone.
I'd miss not having access to the dowel stick (I sometimes do "trick" playing) so I personally have not wanted one.
There were a couple of late "classic era" builders that tried variations on the idea but none seemed to stick.
What is the procedure for replacing a tack head? Are progressively larger tacks needed each time? Double hooks seems to be a better way? Joel, were these double headed banjos meant to "duplicate"or approach gourd banjo sound?
Edited by - northernbelle on 02/28/2020 08:57:23
I wonder how many of those back side "heads" were torn by belt buckles.
I played one correctly that my friend Dave K made, during the tail end of a historically informed gig last fall. I think I may have broken a gut on my inaccurately constructed mainstay Boucher replica and the double header sounded great, a little different than my banjo though it had plenty of volume and great tone, but we were drinking by then.
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