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Jul 7, 2022 - 5:52:13 AM

Vetsorn

Norway

33 posts since 9/9/2017

Hello! I have plenty of experience playing the banjo, but less so with repairing them. A few years ago I bought a used Pisgah custom build through this page, and now the skin has worn down at the corner where my forearm rests so much that the banjo is unplayable. I'm thinking of replacing it with a renaissance head so I don't have to deal with humidity and all that, also because I don't think I don't have the tools nor skills to mount an animal skin..

Now for my question, which I'm sure is pretty stupid: Can I simply buy a 12" Remo renaissance head not specifically meant for banjo and put that on with no problems? Wouldn't the tone ring cause some problems in that case? I don't know much about my banjo since it is a second-hand custom build, but I do know it is a 12" laugh I'm asking just to be absolutely sure before I order anything, I'm in Europe too so not so many open back banjo luthiers around either, unfortunately! I appreciate any response, thanks!

Jul 7, 2022 - 6:05:11 AM
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4438 posts since 10/13/2005
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You never know what a banjo will sound like with any head until you try it. My Mogi banjo sounds so good with a Ren head that I have not been tempted to put on a skin head. Go ahead and get a 12" Ren head. It is not hard to replace a head, it just takes a little effort like changing a flat tire, more brawn than brains. banjered

Jul 7, 2022 - 6:33:43 AM
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2442 posts since 2/4/2013

I guess you need to need to know the crown height needed for the head - high, medium or low assuming that 12 inch heads come in these types like 11 inch heads. When you say "not meant for banjo" do you mean something like an Renaissance Ambassador which is sold as a drumhead? If so I don't know if it would work as I can't see any information on crown height.

Jul 7, 2022 - 7:14:27 AM
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jbalch

USA

8838 posts since 11/28/2003

A 12" renaissance head should fit your Pisgah just fine. I would get a medium crown - because renaissance heads tend to stretch quite a bit.

You can also order Pisgah branded heads here: https://balsambanjoworks.com/product-category/banjo-heads/

Jul 7, 2022 - 7:22:17 AM
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3154 posts since 9/5/2006

Buy a banjo head not a drum head. Try looking here

Jul 7, 2022 - 7:35:52 AM
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2847 posts since 5/2/2012

If it were me, I would go right to the source https://www.pisgahbanjos.com/about/  They have an email address and a phone number at the bottom of the webpage. Ask if a 12" Ren head will fit and then buy from where ever it is most convenient.  They do sell 12" Ren heads on their site. 

Edited by - thisoldman on 07/07/2022 07:38:38

Jul 7, 2022 - 7:39:11 AM

Vetsorn

Norway

33 posts since 9/9/2017

GrahamHawker: I`ve never even heard the term "crown height" before so I`m pretty happy I asked you guys before I went ahead and ordered anything! I showed my banjo to my drummer friend and we looked at exactly those "ambassadors" and whatnots, he said it would probably be fine but I thought best to check here first. I can`t even find the emails I exchanged with the seller all those years ago so I really don`t know much about my banjo, other than it`s a Pisgah Rambler custom built, with no Dobson tone ring. How do I measure my crown height?

banjered: I`m thinking of going for a renaissance head, because I got the impression that they`re sort of the middle ground between plastic and animal skin? I started out playing clawhammer on plastic heads which made the percussive elements of my clawhammer strokes really loud and bright. The animal skin on my Pisgah was about the opposite, giving off a more warm "thud". I`m looking for something in the middle of those two extremes, please correct me if I`m wrong in my impression that a renaissance will satisfy me.

Edited by - Vetsorn on 07/07/2022 07:40:11

Jul 7, 2022 - 7:52:50 AM

2442 posts since 2/4/2013

quote:
Originally posted by Vetsorn

How do I measure my crown height?


Top of the metal hoop part of the head to the top of the head. Low is 3/8ths inch, medium 7/16ths inch and high is 1/2 inch. You can measure the tension hoop. If it's 1/2 inch high then you can use high crown although a meidum crown will work but the bridge will sit a bit lower on the banjo.

Jul 7, 2022 - 7:59:07 AM

Vetsorn

Norway

33 posts since 9/9/2017

jbalch Bob Buckingham thisoldman Thank you all very much for your links. Should I just order a medium crown 12 inch renaissance head then? I was hoping I could get away with just ordering a head from somewhere in Europe to avoid the shipping costs from the US, but it looks like that`s unlikely to happen. I sent a message to Johannes Bonnefaas on facebook which is the only european banjomaker I know of but I`m not sure if he`s active anymore... His website didn`t seem to be up so I couldn`t find an email. The US to Europe shipping cost won`t be the end of the world though, letting my Pisgah remain in an unplayable condition would be, though! laugh

Jul 7, 2022 - 8:05:49 AM

Vetsorn

Norway

33 posts since 9/9/2017

GrahamHawker Thank you! When you say the bridge will sit a bit lower (if I use a medium where a high crown would be more appropriate), do you mean that in the way that it will sink lower into the skin, like a "bowling ball in the middle of a trampoline" kind of thing? Because that might cause issues when playing up the neck.. Anyway, thank you. I`ll get to measuring!

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Jul 7, 2022 - 8:17:13 AM

Bart Veerman

Canada

5248 posts since 1/5/2005

Do you actually need a new head?

Please post a picture of the unplayable area on the head and tell us what exactly makes it unplayable.

Jul 7, 2022 - 8:26:30 AM

jbalch

USA

8838 posts since 11/28/2003

Crown Height doesn't affect how high the bridge fits (or how far it sinks into the head). That is determined by head tension.

Crown Height simply determines how high the tension hoop rises in relation to the top of the head.

I think either medium or tall (high) crown will fit your Pisgah.

BUT because Renaissance heads stretch - a lot. I personally would order a 12" medium crown banjo head. That will provide for the head to stretch and the tension hoop still remain at a useable height.

Jul 7, 2022 - 8:43:39 AM

2442 posts since 2/4/2013

quote:
Originally posted by Vetsorn

GrahamHawker Thank you! When you say the bridge will sit a bit lower


Bear in mind I may be completely wrong about this and thinking about it I probably am. The key thing is to measure the tension ring. For instance if it's a small ring such as 3/8ths inch, and the pictures of Pisgah Customs show a variety of sizes some quite small, then a high crown wouldn't seem to be appropriate. If it's half an inch then high or medium crown is fine.

Jul 7, 2022 - 8:43:46 AM

3154 posts since 9/5/2006

Ren heads do stretch again after installation. So in a couple of months you may need to re-tighten it. But as said above I would not get another bridge until it is setup with the new head. It might not need a thing.

Jul 7, 2022 - 10:11:48 AM

4510 posts since 5/29/2011

This demonstrates the difference in crown height. The higher the crown the further down the tension hoop will sit. That can become an issue if the bead around the bottom of the head comes in contact with the cutout in the neck.


 

Jul 7, 2022 - 10:18:41 AM

604 posts since 5/29/2015

Buying a bridge or two or three and a banjo head together should not increase shipping cost.

Jul 7, 2022 - 12:23:25 PM

1393 posts since 1/9/2012

Vetsorn -- Twice before I learned that Bob Smakula has the world's best stockpile of banjo heads I bought Remo drum heads for odd size banjos. My impression is that the Remo analog of the "flesh hoop" (the metal ring that the tension ring and hooks bear down on) is heftier on heads for drums than it is on heads for banjos. Fitting under the hooks might be a problem.

Jul 7, 2022 - 1:16:42 PM
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9807 posts since 8/28/2013

I was wondering when someone would suggest Smakula. From what I've read, he is quite knowledgeable and easy to work with. I think he could tell you exactly what you need, and might even work with you on shipping, although I'm not saying he can do much about shipping to Norway.

Crown does not affect the bridge, but what Mark Harper says about the neck notch is true.

I am not certain about the metal ring being larger, but I have heard that drum heads are thicker than banjo heads. There are reasons, I'm sure, for a drum head to be different. Players don't usually beat on a banjo head.

Also, it would be wise, if you can, to save the old head in case you want or need to switch back, or at least, save the metal "flesh hoop" the old skin is attached to.

Jul 7, 2022 - 1:17:10 PM

4438 posts since 10/13/2005
Online Now

Yep, a Ren head is considered by many/most to be intermediate between skin thud and plastic/white frosty bright even though it is plastic too. I have 4 banjos, two with Rens, two with skins. I've put on about 8-9 skin heads. banjered

Jul 7, 2022 - 1:26:10 PM

martyjoe

Ireland

181 posts since 3/24/2020

Vetsorn The bridge height will not alter no matter what head you put onto your banjo. Drum heads have a slightly thicker/wider hoop that won’t fit your banjo without either modding the hoop or modding the j hooks, plus drum heads have a low crown height (I design & build banjos to take drum heads).

Jul 7, 2022 - 1:32:55 PM
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1882 posts since 2/9/2007

quote:
Originally posted by Bart Veerman

Do you actually need a new head?

Please post a picture of the unplayable area on the head and tell us what exactly makes it unplayable.


Just what I thought. 

If it isn't actually worn through, you can try taking the head off and turning it so you're wearing a different spot on the head.  ...

and how about putting an arm rest on there so your arm isn't wearing a hole in the head?

Jul 7, 2022 - 9:18:09 PM

9807 posts since 8/28/2013

I also thought about suggesting an armrest. Not sure why I didn't. It might be a small added cost, but seems worth it.

Jul 7, 2022 - 10:09:40 PM

Bart Veerman

Canada

5248 posts since 1/5/2005

If the head is damaged then, by all means, replace it. If the head is gunked up with thumb-smear then you can clean it with  some scouring powder (Ajax, Vim etc.) and a damp cloth.

If you have you heart set on trying [a] different head(s) and/or bridges then please go right ahead, the economy will be ever so grateful.

To those who are interested to mount a hide head, there are several ways to mount them. Here's one way you may find interesting:

https://banjobridge.com/hidehead.htm

Jul 8, 2022 - 2:03:24 AM

4181 posts since 4/29/2012

quote:
Originally posted by Dan Gellert
quote:
Originally posted by Bart Veerman

Do you actually need a new head?

Please post a picture of the unplayable area on the head and tell us what exactly makes it unplayable.


Just what I thought. 

If it isn't actually worn through, you can try taking the head off and turning it so you're wearing a different spot on the head.  ...

and how about putting an arm rest on there so your arm isn't wearing a hole in the head?


What I was about to say. In fact rotate the head a bit every year or so before it starts to wear and it should outlast you. My heads wears where my thumb hits the head. I'm hoping to live long enough to get a full circle of visible but innocuous thumb divots.

Jul 8, 2022 - 5:13:58 AM
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3026 posts since 4/7/2010

Vetsorn

I send banjo parts internationally all the time.

Via first class mail, one head will cost $28 to send to Norway. But at that postage tier, there is another pound of weight that can be added to the package. If you have a friend that needs a new head, or have need of some other small parts (strings, bridges...), you get a better value for your postage dollars.

Bob Smakula

Edited by - Bob Smakula on 07/08/2022 05:15:20

Jul 8, 2022 - 7:49:01 AM

Vetsorn

Norway

33 posts since 9/9/2017

I think I finally figured how to upload photos now... This hasn`t happened purely because of me resting my forearm there, the final straw was it being left outside during one of these intense and unpredictable summer rains we get over here. Note that there are other small holes in the hide as well.


 

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