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Oct 12, 2021 - 11:59:31 AM
6 posts since 9/19/2021

Can anyone tell me what these tacks are for on this banjo head. How does the skin go over them?


Oct 12, 2021 - 12:03:20 PM
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2762 posts since 3/30/2008

I would think a solid ring would sit on these tacks.

Oct 12, 2021 - 12:08:11 PM

747 posts since 5/22/2021

Originally posted by terrya

Can anyone tell me what these tacks are for on this banjo head. How does the skin go over them?

Hello Terrya!

I cannot say for sure. I would also think it was maybe meant for a metal ring?

P.S - I just realized, it is a bit off topic, but you are also a fellow Pennsylvanian! Welcome to BHO! I live just down the road from Unionville PA.

Oct 12, 2021 - 12:10:16 PM

6 posts since 9/19/2021

Well hello then neighbor! Thanks for the welcome.

Oct 12, 2021 - 12:41:17 PM
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79 posts since 12/27/2019

Yes there should be at least a brass rod or tubing that sits on top of the tacks. Search on the term "catamount" for more details of the configuration.

Oct 12, 2021 - 1:52:52 PM

182 posts since 6/5/2006

The tone ring may still be in the head you removed.

Oct 12, 2021 - 2:17:02 PM

6 posts since 9/19/2021

Unfortunately there was no skin on it. How thick should the rod be?

Oct 12, 2021 - 5:49:19 PM

747 posts since 5/22/2021

Originally posted by terrya

Unfortunately there was no skin on it. How thick should the rod be?

Hmm, well I dont know much myself, but maybe member Ken LeVan would be able to help. He is on the hangout.

Oct 12, 2021 - 5:59:20 PM
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2762 posts since 3/30/2008

Each maker used a different size ring, some were solid & some were hollow tubes. You'll be lucky if someone recognizes this maker & tells you what was really on top of those pins.

Oct 12, 2021 - 10:42:46 PM
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95 posts since 3/24/2020

The thickness of the tone ring can by determined by working out height you need to add to be flush with the top of the fretboard. It does not want to be any higher than the top of the fretboard. Brass is the commonly preferred choice, but you can change the flavour of the sound by using aluminium, steel, copper, timber & so on.

Oct 13, 2021 - 5:49:39 AM

182 posts since 6/5/2006

If a round brass rod will sit on the center of the crowned studs and put the head even with the fretboard and the outside diameter of the pot, you should be able to make one. If its too large to bend, you might need to search for tone rings online or have something fabricated.

For a round rod, perhaps others can recommend a better source but I have used online in Wallingford CT. On the website choose the metal: brass; choose the shape: bar-round; choose the alloy: 360 (good for bending); choose the diameter, and then click "search now".

Click on "Select a Cut Size for Price" and choose 48" for an 11" pot because its difficult to bend the last 6 " of the ends unless you want to do it with a hammer; I didn't.
I was able to easily bend a 1/4" brass rod to an 11" diameter using these instructions from hangout member leemysliwiec: (apparently  7 1/2" referred to the diameter instead of the radius which is 3 3/4").  I bent the rod in 1/2" increments.

Edited by - restreet on 10/13/2021 06:02:05

Oct 13, 2021 - 6:25:21 AM

6 posts since 9/19/2021

Thanks, this is really helpful.

Oct 13, 2021 - 6:50:47 AM

182 posts since 6/5/2006

After blowing up the photo it appears a round rod might need to be 3/8" or 1/2" in diameter which might be too big to bend by hand.

Measure the diameter and width of the rim and the height to the fretboard.

Edited by - restreet on 10/13/2021 06:52:14

Oct 13, 2021 - 8:32:53 AM
Players Union Member



14798 posts since 8/30/2006

restreet good info. One of the collectors might know. One doesn't need a ring roller, some use nails in a board.  48" is perfect.  You pay for cuts. UPS no longer ships longer pipe and tubing.  Tubing with trumpet holes like a flathead is a sneaky approach, totally musical. 

The tacks are a poor man's use of their noggin in modern days, they work to let the tone ring hum a tune, if not sing.
Dan Pennington and many others use tacks under the tone ring. They imitate Electric and Whyte Laydies
Yours looks like a Stewart? He had the best ideas.

Just measure what you need. I use Interstate Metals here in Phoenix. 
Brass round stock is perfect and I believe original . Joining is optional, my dog might hear the difference. A chuck wagon triangle isn't joined. 

You will need a  joined tension hoop AND a joined flesh hoop for a skin head. Dry mount skin heads are available, Bob Smakula and John Balch are both great guys. Metal shops and cabinet shops like to hear some banjo, too.  Make friends.

This is a great project.  Don't worry about other minor flaws, restore.  

Edited by - Helix on 10/13/2021 08:50:40

Oct 13, 2021 - 12:09:27 PM

182 posts since 6/5/2006

Cole Eclipse 5000 banjos have little dowels that support a round rod tone ring that is covered by a thin metal spun over sheath. The sustain is impressive.

Edited by - restreet on 10/13/2021 12:10:52

Oct 13, 2021 - 3:49:16 PM

12424 posts since 6/2/2008

Once you determine the overall diameter of the ring you need (11 inches, 10-7/8 inches, whatever) and the thickness of rod or tube that will work, check the Classifieds here to see if anyone is selling what you need ready made. People sell those kinds of parts all the time. You might also place a want-to-buy ad describing what you're looking for.

If you're lucky and it's a standard 11-inch size, Stew-Mac sells that. Theirs is .297 inches thick -- between 1/4 and 1/3 inch.

One note: Those tacks are not on the head. They're on (in?) the top edge of the banjo's "rim." Decades ago a lot of us called it the shell, but rim is the much more common term now.  The head is the more common term for what you referred to as the "skin" -- the part that gets stretched over the rim. But skin is also an approriate term especially when referring to a hide head instead of a plastic one.  The complete assembly of the rim, head, tension hoop (stretcher band), hooks, nuts and shoes -- the banjo's drum-like body -- is called the "pot."

Enjoy your banjo adventure.

Oct 17, 2021 - 6:08:13 AM

6 posts since 9/19/2021

Thanks for all this good advice/ information. helix, I thought it might be a stewart also, but someone said they never made tenors.

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