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Jan 31, 2023 - 4:38:34 AM
5 posts since 1/21/2023

I’ve gone through forum archives to see what was said about painting or drawing on banjo heads. Most go back to 2007-2012 and some of the pics are no longer available. So, looking for more recent advice. I’ve ordered a Carver Minstrel banjo and would like my artist spouse to decorate the banjo head with a simple bare tree and moon. My question is what type of medium (oil, acrylic, pen and ink, etc.) works best - meaning long lasting, easy to apply, and does not impact the sound of the head? Thanks for any and all advice.

Jan 31, 2023 - 4:54:09 AM
Players Union Member

Texasbanjo (Moderator)


28495 posts since 8/3/2003

I would use acrylics. Fairly quick to dry and lasts quite a while. Try to stay away from points on the head where your fingers go for stability and if you slide up and down the head when you play up and down the neck, stay away from those spots, if possible, too.

Oils would also work, but you'd be without a banjo for a few days while it dries.

Others may have other ideas.

Jan 31, 2023 - 5:22:14 AM



12108 posts since 2/7/2008

It depends, do you want a black line drawing or a coloured painting. Some are just pencil drawings.

Assuming you have a skin head there are leather dyes in a variety of colours, they are pretty permanent, dry fast. Fiebings Leather Dye is a good one. Apply with pen, brush or wipe on.

I would shy away from thick paint like oils or acrilyc as they could dampen your sound.

Coloured Sharpies?

Edited by - Fathand on 01/31/2023 05:24:06

Jan 31, 2023 - 11:55:38 PM

Paul R


16407 posts since 1/28/2010

It depends upon how "heavy" you want the illustration.

I've used archival pens and even Sharpies to do basic black on the heads. I kept it simple.

It's too bad we can't see the art from the Banjo Head Decoration group any more. There were some great designs. I found one here:

Feb 1, 2023 - 5:09:08 AM
Players Union Member



23294 posts since 6/30/2015
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I would avoid paint and stick with ink, stains or dyes. I think paint would be too heavy and restrictive and alter the tone too much, unless you're going for a wall hanging banjo.

Feb 1, 2023 - 6:19:20 PM



483 posts since 3/14/2006

Acrylic paints can be watered to make them almost like water colors.

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