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Sep 29, 2023 - 7:56:30 AM
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950 posts since 12/19/2010

This is excerpted from a longer video I made on the conversion of a 1920 Vega tenor to a 5-string banjo (also posted on BHO). This sound comparison of a skin head vs a Renaissance head may be of general interest on its own merits, so here it is as a stand alone video. I play tunes in clawhammer, 2F and 3F (no picks) styles.


Sep 29, 2023 - 8:47:14 AM
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183 posts since 3/7/2011

Hey Jack, thanks for the video! IMHO: The skin head has a tad more volume, is a tiny bit fuller and deeper sounding with just a bit more sustain, it also has more in the way of overtones to my ear. The Ren head sounds really good as well. If I was in a climate either very humid or very dry, I might personally choose the Ren head just for its stability, but the skin head sounds wonderful! Just my $0.02 LOL

Sep 29, 2023 - 8:48:55 AM
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567 posts since 7/28/2016

My own opinion is I like the skin head better on clawhammer but the plastic better for 2 + 3 finger.

Sep 29, 2023 - 9:06:49 AM
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388 posts since 6/15/2006

I think, I like the skin a little better, but it is as if there a some rattlig or buzzing from low string action, that disturbs me a little. Maybe I am too sensitive about that, but I wote for the skin. Nice banjo and nice playing. :) Steen

Sep 29, 2023 - 9:23:13 AM
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Players Union Member

Emiel

Austria

10378 posts since 1/22/2003
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As I said before in another thread, I like the Renaissance better than the goatskin in these examples. Both heads sound great, but the Renaissance sounds more focussed and more interesting to my ear…

Sep 29, 2023 - 11:44:54 AM
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Badjer

USA

257 posts since 9/2/2005

I never had any interest in a hide head until about a minute ago. I like that sound. 

Sep 29, 2023 - 7:27:22 PM
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102 posts since 8/23/2022

Thanks for putting this together.

I like the skin head better.

-Scott

Sep 30, 2023 - 8:47:40 AM
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15675 posts since 6/29/2005

Thanks for doing that! 

You can definitely hear a difference, even with my crummy speaker. I think the skin head is more "jangly", sounds looser, and the Ren one is cleaner, more solid—depends on what you like.   Both sound great and you can really hear the unmistakable TuBaPhone sound regardless of which head.

Also, if you repeated the test where the banjo had acclimated to various degrees of humidity, I think the Ren one would always sound pretty much the same and the skin one would vary.

Sep 30, 2023 - 10:15:25 AM

950 posts since 12/19/2010

quote:
Originally posted by Ken LeVan

Thanks for doing that! 

You can definitely hear a difference, even with my crummy speaker. I think the skin head is more "jangly", sounds looser, and the Ren one is cleaner, more solid—depends on what you like.   Both sound great and you can really hear the unmistakable TuBaPhone sound regardless of which head.

Also, if you repeated the test where the banjo had acclimated to various degrees of humidity, I think the Ren one would always sound pretty much the same and the skin one would vary.


Ha, and the difference came through even with my crummy iPad recording. Actually, I use an app called Dolby On which is much better than the standard voice recorder app. I agree about the "jangle" with the skin head, which goes to your second point about humidity and skin tension. It's also a real challenge to keep any skin head uniformly tensioned, which also might have much to do with the looser, jangly tonal qualities.  I started experimenting with different plastic heads this last summer because El Nino brought so much rain and humidity to Colorado that all my skin heads were becoming wet dish rags.  For this particular instrument, the Renaissance head seemed like the best plastic head to my ear.  On my 1903 Whyte Laydie (also a 10 3/4" rim), I settled on a top frosted head.  You just don't know until you try it seems.  Both the skin head and Renaissance head have their unique qualities.  Which is better is a matter of preference, both for sound and convenience. 

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