Hello all,

Once a new vellum has been stretched and properly fit, as far as snugging it up/tightening, how taught should it be? Going for as crisp/bright a treble sound that I can get on a 90's Morrison...is the head tuned like a bluegrass mylar head...to G#...or Bb like some prefer....or much lower than that? Is the use of a drum dial still preferred, or tap tuning?

thanks,

Dow

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In the old days, it wasn't unusual to tighten a head to the bursting point.  

Increasing tension to approach that level on your 120 year old rim, (doing so gradually, a fraction of a turn, each nut in succession), you may see the rim start warping and going out of round. You don't want that. 

As a guide, tension the head enough so that a) it is uniformly flat and taut, with no depression at the bridge while under full string tension; b) treble strings are bright, bass string has volume and clarity.

Tap tune info on the web isn't so helpful as it is mostly for mylar head, G tuned banjos.

Hi Dow,

Like Shawn says... tight, but not TOO tight. I have never tried to tune a head to a particular note. I am sure it works, but I have never heard of it being done on a Classic Style banjo.


Watch my video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GmshkOTd5JQ

It may give you a few tips!

Thanks very much Shawn and Ian. I'd never thought of that before, the 120 year old rim with all that pressure on it, potentially warping it out of round. Something to take extra precaution with. Thanks for the additional info Shawn...and Ian....for the amazing video tutorial. Ian....that banjo audio playing before the tutorial starts is a perfect sounding classic banjo to my ears....is that one of yours? 

Dow

Also guys....when this banjo is ready to go....how shall I tune it? What was the standard tuning in the 1890s....the old A....or standard C? Or something else? 

Dow

gCGBD, unless you're playing a tune that says, "Bass to D" or "Raised Bass", then you tune gDGBD. Even if you're reading in A notation, you'll want to tune to gCGBD. That's the way it was done (for the most part). If you're at the Ossman or FVE level, you probably never raise your bass and just deal with the stretches as you see fit.

I tend to look at the music itself. If I see no "middle C" notes ("D" being the lowest instead), I'll raise my bass. If I see any middle C notes, I'll leave the bass alone.


Texican65 said:

Also guys....when this banjo is ready to go....how shall I tune it? What was the standard tuning in the 1890s....the old A....or standard C? Or something else? 

Dow

Ok...thanks a lot Marc! 

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