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Nov 25, 2022 - 8:53:14 AM

Jelle

Netherlands

275 posts since 5/28/2012

Hey guys,

I just bought a beautiful sounding and looking Dobson (11") from a new builder in Europe. It's set up with a renaissance head and rings like a bell with huge sustain. I was pretty sure to order a goaty and pop it on, but they're quite expensive and I'm pretty impressed with the renaissance as it is.

What are your experiences with skin heads on Dobsons? Does it still have the 'pop' the tonering should give?

Ps: humidity is not a problem where I'm from.

Thanks in advance!

Nov 25, 2022 - 9:56:12 AM
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2017 posts since 2/9/2007

If temp and humidity variations are not a factor, it's a matter of taste, and also the random variations found in natural materials.
I expect a real hide to somewhat reduce "ring" and sustain, and add "pop" and depth to the tone (vs. a synthetic head), but it all depends on the weight and evenness of the hide, the individual banjo, its setup, and most of all how it is played.
I don't know what is available where you are, but in the US we can get a quite serviceable unmounted goatskin (usually imported from Pakistan) for less than the price of a plastic head. It isn't hard to make a flesh hoop from a piece of metal rod and to mount the skin. I'd suggest going that route, if you can. See how you like it. You can always put the Ren back on if you prefer that. If you like the real thing, you can be pretty sure you won't be disappointed in a more expensive skin if you want to upgrade.

Nov 25, 2022 - 10:30:12 AM
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190 posts since 12/27/2019

Goat on an 11" dobson is sweet and perfect. The sustain is rich and organic. Totally expunges the ice-picky tone of the plastic head.

I've had a similar experience, most of my playing on goatskins, then getting an 11" with mylar. My first thought was, "hey, this plastic head isn't so bad after all -- maybe I'll just leave it on."

After a couple weeks, though, the brash artificial pinginess of the mylar was enough. I could barely stand it anymore. The first item on my to do list: get a goat on!

I'm predicting you may go through something similar. The goat on your Tupelo was really an exquisite improvement. You will find the same thing to be true with your new banjo, too.

Nov 25, 2022 - 11:38:59 AM
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Jelle

Netherlands

275 posts since 5/28/2012

Thank you very much guys, you've convinced me! I'm going goat

Nov 25, 2022 - 12:51:40 PM

862 posts since 12/19/2010

I have an 11" Enoch Dobson. I've had a goatskin head on from the get-go and wouldn't have it any other way. I totally agree with Silver Falls, but I should add that THE goatskin head on my Dobson is perfect to my ear and standards. As Dan mentioned, variations in natural materials can affect tone, elasticity, etc. Odds are that you will be pleased with goat vs. synthetic.

Edited by - jack_beuthin on 11/25/2022 12:52:34

Nov 25, 2022 - 4:23:33 PM

190 posts since 12/27/2019

quote:
Originally posted by Jelle

Thank you very much guys, you've convinced me! I'm going goat


You will love it.  And goat is sweetly suited to your distinctive playing style, too.

Looking forward to the big reveal of new recordings with your latest banjo!

Nov 25, 2022 - 5:14:05 PM

Bart Veerman

Canada

5371 posts since 1/5/2005

You might be able to find a cheap tambourine. The ones made in Pakistan usually have goat heads that are quite useable.

Dec 3, 2022 - 4:47:13 PM

190 posts since 12/27/2019

Hey Jelle , just noticed your latest on the youtube. Congratulations on your new instrument, sounds super -- and I noticed you didn't waste any time getting a skin on it!

How do you like playing an 11" dobson after your big woody Tupelo? Pretty sweet to have that new voice, eh?

Dec 4, 2022 - 12:23:25 AM

Jelle

Netherlands

275 posts since 5/28/2012

Hey! You're right, put on the skin immediately. I already notice the sharp edges in sound are gone, so I don't regret it. Thanks again for the advice. I'm very happy with the contrast it brings with the Tupelo. I wanted two different sounding banjo's that kinda look the same (if that makes any sense). I do notice all the parts of the new one need time to settle in. It gets out of tune frequently and doesn't sound consistent yet. There's only one thing to do about that... Play it a lot!

Thanks again for your advice :)

Dec 4, 2022 - 10:12:24 PM

Bart Veerman

Canada

5371 posts since 1/5/2005

quote:
Originally posted by Jelle

put on the skin immediately ~ ~ ~ It gets out of tune frequently and doesn't sound consistent yet.


New skins, like all replacement heads, need a few rounds of re-tensioning/tightening before they're done stretching, stabilize and have the banjo stay in tune.

With skin heads you can speed up this "head stabilizing" thing a bit. When, and once, you're happy with the initial head tension after mounting it: check the tension number with a Drum Dial

  • moisten (moist, not wet) the head a bit (vochtig, niet nat)
  • check the head tension again the next day, when the head has dried again. If the tension is lower than before, bring it back to the original number (you wrote that down, didn't you...)

Repeat this for a week to 10 days or until it starts creeping you out too much and worry that the head will bust. For those in areas with humidity swings: this "method" make it easier for your banjo's head to handle humidity changes.

Your mileage may vary...

Edited by - Bart Veerman on 12/04/2022 22:14:34

Dec 5, 2022 - 12:38:48 AM

Jelle

Netherlands

275 posts since 5/28/2012

Thanks Bart, Interesting method. I just don't have a drum dial at hand...

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