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Jan 23, 2021 - 4:08:13 PM
1270 posts since 3/10/2005

Trying to fit my new remo head on this old Slingerland...the good news is the head seems to be the right size, but two problems.

#1-the head rim hits the neck before the neck seats against the pot. I can fix this easily with some judicious wood removal. This banjo has probably never seen a plastic head before

#2-the rim of the head is a little larger than the tension hoop, and interferes with the hooks reaching the tension hoop. The hooks hit the side of the head rim, and the hoop sits inside of that point.

I found this thread banjohangout.org/archive/299508

and now think removing the rim of the head will probably fix both problems.

But I don't see a way to start the rim-prying that isn't dangerous.

I emailed Bob because I know he has done a bunch, but if he's smart he won't reply till Monday. Anyone else done it?

Jan 23, 2021 - 4:17:53 PM
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1270 posts since 3/10/2005

Ahh...NVM...I dug deeper and found it:

"To start; Working on a sturdy flat work table, take a thin blade screw driver and bend the metal at the seam on the head. Once you have it started, Use a larger screwdriver & work your way around the outside circumference of the head prying the metal away from the epoxy. Once you have the entire outside circumference bent away, pick up the head and wiggle the other two surfaces loose from the the epoxy.


Do not be tempted to loosen the aluminum if you have only part of it pried away from the epoxy."

Jan 23, 2021 - 4:21:12 PM

beegee

USA

22179 posts since 7/6/2005

Common problem with modern heads on antique banjos. Follow Bob Smakula's method.

Jan 23, 2021 - 4:30:38 PM
Players Union Member

RioStat

USA

5409 posts since 10/12/2009

quote:
Originally posted by MountainBanjo

Ahh...NVM...I dug deeper and found it:

"To start; Working on a sturdy flat work table, take a thin blade screw driver and bend the metal at the seam on the head. Once you have it started, Use a larger screwdriver & work your way around the outside circumference of the head prying the metal away from the epoxy. Once you have the entire outside circumference bent away, pick up the head and wiggle the other two surfaces loose from the the epoxy.


Do not be tempted to loosen the aluminum if you have only part of it pried away from the epoxy."


I used this exact method about 2 weeks ago.....it worked perfectly, and it was the first time I'd ever done it.

 Just go slow, don't "force" anything.

Jan 23, 2021 - 4:34:37 PM

1270 posts since 3/10/2005

I just know I'm going to wreck it...

Jan 23, 2021 - 5:04:39 PM

1270 posts since 3/10/2005

I know myself too well...I managed to crack it at the seam because I didn't pay close enough attention to the instructions, but a drop of super glue and hopefully it'll be good to go. Got the rest off without incident.

Jan 23, 2021 - 5:28:55 PM

1728 posts since 6/2/2010
Online Now

Hopefully it will work just fine. If the bottom of the head is still hitting the top of the neck notch it might mean you bought a head with the wrong crown height. If that is the case I would buy a new head before I would carve away any wood from the neck.

Jan 23, 2021 - 5:46:59 PM

4000 posts since 10/13/2005

I would have just filed the aluminum rim down right where it meets the neck. banjered

Jan 23, 2021 - 6:30:56 PM

1270 posts since 3/10/2005

quote:
Originally posted by banjered

I would have just filed the aluminum rim down right where it meets the neck. banjered


That wouldn't have cured the hook problem. TBH that rim is so thin I'm not sure removing it will either. Gonna find out right now...

Jan 24, 2021 - 2:54 AM

Bill H

USA

1526 posts since 11/7/2010

In forty years of putting heads on vintage banjos, I have found there is almost always a head available that will fit. They come in 1/16" intervals in diameters and typically three crown heights. If your hooks are too short to reach with a narrower crown height, you could use some longer hooks as a temporary measure to pull it down low enough to then install your original hooks. I have had some old banjos that have required a couple or more tries to get a correct fit, but have never not been able to find a head to eventually fit.

Jan 24, 2021 - 5:29:40 AM

2493 posts since 4/7/2010

DO NOT ATTEMPT THE ABOVE DESCRIBED METHOD!! The Head Will Be Destroyed!

When I originally posted this method of dealing with the combination of thin tension hoops and wider Remo aluminum channel flesh hoops it worked great. It was about 5 minuted of prying, then the hooks would grab on to the tension hoop and the neck could touch the tension hoop.

In the last 2 years, Remo has improved the adhesion of the epoxy to the aluminum. Any of the recent Remo heads where I tried to remove the aluminum channel were rendered unusable with the hardened epoxy cracking and fairly large chunks sticking to the aluminum.

Currently I file small grooves in the aluminum for the hooks and file or grind away the aluminum in the area that touches the neck.

I was going to post a video of the aluminum removal, but by the time I had the time to make that video, Remo had changed their manufacturing technique.

Sorry I have no better, less time consuming news

Bob Smakula
smakula.com

Jan 24, 2021 - 6:44:13 AM
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1270 posts since 3/10/2005

quote:
Originally posted by Bill H

In forty years of putting heads on vintage banjos, I have found there is almost always a head available that will fit. They come in 1/16" intervals in diameters and typically three crown heights. If your hooks are too short to reach with a narrower crown height, you could use some longer hooks as a temporary measure to pull it down low enough to then install your original hooks. I have had some old banjos that have required a couple or more tries to get a correct fit, but have never not been able to find a head to eventually fit.


 

 

This is not a problem of head size, crown height or hook length. Its a problem of the modern head rim being much wider than the original flesh hoop of the skin head these old banjos came with.

Jan 24, 2021 - 6:52:54 AM
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1270 posts since 3/10/2005

I didn't have that problem Bob, maybe this was an older head even though it was new? The epoxy did not stick to the rim, it came off 100% clean.

The mistake I made was instead of laying the head on a flat surface (as your instructions clearly stated) and starting to pry the aluminum away (outward, away from the center), I stupidly tried to separate the seam so it cracked there. The rest went just fine.

But the aluminum is so thin along the outer edge it really doesn't buy you much, and I had to bend the hooks anyway, so your new method is probably the way to go.

I would have just put a skin head on but didn't want to mess with one until I was sure this old thing was playable. It is playable, so I will probably get some skin at some point.

Jan 24, 2021 - 7:10:10 AM

8152 posts since 8/28/2013

It seems to me that after 60+ years of making banjo heads, enough complaints about those wide aluminum rims would have promted Remo to devise a narrower one. Maybe people just go along with things to easily, and devise their own methods rather than requesting a more usable product from Remo.

Maybe it's time for all of us to cite this problem and ask for better. They;ve certainly come up with better coatings and more ecologically sensible products, so I see no reason why they wouldn't improve the rim design if asked.

Jan 24, 2021 - 8:59:24 AM

2493 posts since 4/7/2010

quote:
Originally posted by G Edward Porgie

It seems to me that after 60+ years of making banjo heads, enough complaints about those wide aluminum rims would have promted Remo to devise a narrower one. Maybe people just go along with things to easily, and devise their own methods rather than requesting a more usable product from Remo.

Maybe it's time for all of us to cite this problem and ask for better. They;ve certainly come up with better coatings and more ecologically sensible products, so I see no reason why they wouldn't improve the rim design if asked.


For Remo, banjo heads are a nuisance. In their price list there are 540 (i just counted) variations they are willing to make. Most of those are "special order". Meaning to get one you place an order and they will form and glue the head when they can. The standard production 11" and 12" heads are sometimes in stock, but most of the time they have to be manufactured to order just like the "special order" heads. And that 540 doesn't include the custom made heads that are out of the 10" to 12-1/8" range that are considered "catalog heads"

Remo  makes heads for modern banjos that have specs that their banjo heads accommodate. I don't think they should have to make major changes in their production techniques because 5% of the world's banjos need a special design. We just have to be clever and share our modification techniques to make modern heads fit banjos with archaic specs.

I will say I am disappointed that it will now take significantly more work to install a plastic head on a Harmony Resotone banjo that was made with a calf skin head and has a super skinny tension hoop. We all know they are decent banjos, but they do not have significant value, so adding an extra half hour of labor doesn't make a lot of sense.

 

Bob Smakula

smakula.com

Jan 24, 2021 - 1:42:14 PM

2524 posts since 3/30/2008
Online Now

I've encountered the OP's problems several times & adapted the head by filing away only the sites where hooks & neck need to fit, (I don't like the looks of bent hooks). On the other hand, Remo heads evolved out of the drum world, & caters to that clientele . Drums need a wide "flesh hoop" to fit into channels in the hoop. The smallest drum sets require 8-10 heads, & drummers are beating & using up the batter side on a regular basis, SO Remo keeps to it's formula to churn out heads for drummers. Banjo heads are probably a miniscule part of it's business, especially problematic vintage banjos.

Jan 24, 2021 - 5:53:07 PM

8152 posts since 8/28/2013

To tell the truth, I don't much care what Remo does. With archaic banjos, I always just use skin heads. Many of them have egged rims, which to me can be more of a problem in fitting a perfectly round plastic head than Remo's giant flesh hoops. Old banjos were originally set up for skin, anyway.

Some people do seem to think the Remo design is a nuisance, though, and I still wonder how huge a change would actually be overly deleterious to Remo's biottom line. After all, a thin rim will fit a modern banjo, too, so they wouldn't need to make two different banjo designs. Banjo and drum heads do have other differences besides drum heads needing a more robust mounting ring.

Jan 24, 2021 - 8:49:15 PM

1270 posts since 3/10/2005

The aluminum part of the rim is slightly less than the thickness of a credit card, so unless someone's hooks are just a teensy bit short of reaching the tension hoop I wouldn't recommend removing it anyway.

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