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Feb 28, 2020 - 6:23:32 AM
197 posts since 1/28/2018

I was watching this film 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

Feb 28, 2020 - 7:51:37 AM



8682 posts since 11/28/2003

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

Feb 28, 2020 - 8:25:42 AM



197 posts since 1/28/2018

The one in the film interestingly seemed to have a double ended hook assembly with tension hoops on both the front and back.

Feb 28, 2020 - 8:52:50 AM

5067 posts since 9/21/2007

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.

Feb 28, 2020 - 8:53:59 AM

536 posts since 11/21/2018

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

Feb 28, 2020 - 5:24:29 PM

6899 posts since 8/28/2013

I wonder how many of those back side "heads" were torn by belt buckles.

Feb 28, 2020 - 6:35:35 PM



553 posts since 2/7/2008

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.

Feb 28, 2020 - 7:06:49 PM
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23247 posts since 6/25/2005

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