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Sep 22, 2020 - 5:03:56 PM

KatB

USA

109 posts since 9/3/2018

I'm going to put a new goatskin head on my 11.5" open back. They are readily available at the local drum store.
1) What thickness do you guys look for? (taking calipers)
2)I like the look of transparent areas, but I wonder, does that have any effect on the sound quality? Would uniformly opaque be a better choice?
Thanks!!

Sep 22, 2020 - 5:11:36 PM
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kww

USA

610 posts since 6/21/2008

Drum heads are frequently thicker than a banjo needs, so focus on ones labeled as thin or extra thin. 0.13-0.15" is typical, but 0.12" and 0.16" aren't wrong, just extreme.

Sep 23, 2020 - 5:56:28 AM

carlb

USA

2155 posts since 12/16/2007

I prefer thin skins 0.2 - .25 mm (about 0.01 in). Not any thinner as I had a 0.15 mm and it tore after about a month. Slunk (transparent or translucent) skins can often be found at about that thickness, but white skins at that thickness are fine too. Also, I tighten just so it doesn't buzz on really humid days and the leave it there. The tone changes, a bit with the humidity, but that's OK with me. A Tally Tone Enhancer does help, particularly when it's humid (check my pictures).

Edited by - carlb on 09/23/2020 05:57:36

Sep 23, 2020 - 6:23:09 AM
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5623 posts since 9/21/2007

quote:
Originally posted by carlb

I prefer thin skins 0.2 - .25 mm (about 0.01 in). Not any thinner as I had a 0.15 mm and it tore after about a month. Slunk (transparent or translucent) skins can often be found at about that thickness, but white skins at that thickness are fine too. Also, I tighten just so it doesn't buzz on really humid days and the leave it there. The tone changes, a bit with the humidity, but that's OK with me. A Tally Tone Enhancer does help, particularly when it's humid (check my pictures).


Interesting, what you call a "Tally tone Enhancer", aka a wine cork fitted between the dowel and head, is a thing that was done dating back to the classic era and at least the 1880s. 

Fred Van Eps took it one step further and made what he called a "sound post" which was a paint stick or flat piece of balsa fitted across the head in the same way.

There were some similar patented devices that were adjustable made and sold during the classic era as well.

Joe Morley recommended fitting a wine cork in a similar manner between the bridge and tailpiece which would slightly mute the banjo and increase sustain.  He used this for slower pieces or pieces like "Donkey Laugh" for the long slides.

Sep 23, 2020 - 7:01:42 AM

carlb

USA

2155 posts since 12/16/2007

quote:
Originally posted by Joel Hooks
Interesting, what you call a "Tally tone Enhancer", aka a wine cork fitted between the dowel and head, is a thing that was done dating back to the classic era and at least the 1880s. 

We only called it that because Bill showed it to us and it sounded like a neat name. He said that he learned it from someone else but didn't remember who. Later, in a BHO post we learned that Bill got the idea from Elias Kaufman, former head of the American Banjo Fraternity. The name, among the friends of Bill, was sort of devised as a joke, but it did sound like a good name and it does work very well. Quite a few, who I've past on this simple device, had been very pleased with the results.

Sep 23, 2020 - 7:23:12 AM

5623 posts since 9/21/2007

quote:
Originally posted by carlb
quote:
Originally posted by Joel Hooks
Interesting, what you call a "Tally tone Enhancer", aka a wine cork fitted between the dowel and head, is a thing that was done dating back to the classic era and at least the 1880s. 

We only called it that because Bill showed it to us and it sounded like a neat name. He said that he learned it from someone else but didn't remember who. Later, in a BHO post we learned that Bill got the idea from Elias Kaufman, former head of the American Banjo Fraternity. The name, among the friends of Bill, was sort of devised as a joke, but it did sound like a good name and it does work very well. Quite a few, who I've past on this simple device, had been very pleased with the results.


No doubt!  It works great.  Eli is a dear friend of mine.  Yes this goes back as far as the earliest fingerstyle banjoists.  I'll post a photo this evening of the Van Eps "sound post" which is different but also works great on some banjos.  It is only slightly more difficult to make as it requires a utility knife and some very soft and thin wood.

I'm not sure exactly when FVE started using his sound post but it was pretty late (1930s or 40s).  That became a fad in the ABF too, but I'm not sure anyone but me does it now.

There were some of them advertised in the 1910s and 1920s.  One was the Tom Carey Sound Post-- I have yet to locate what that is.

Sep 23, 2020 - 4:32:56 PM

KatB

USA

109 posts since 9/3/2018

So you don't think transparency affects tone? I was just wondering if it's bad to have some areas that are translucent, some opaque--maybe they are different densities? Or maybe it makes no difference. In which case I will look for one like that because I like the look.
We've got a really nice local drum store in town, Rhythm traders in Portland. They've got huge stacks of goatskins, all thicknesses. :) Got my last one from there, but it did develop a split. I mended it but it's too far gone now. Maybe it was too thin. So I thought I'd ask before heading over there for a new one. Appreciate your input, thanks!

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