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Okay, this is a special banjo indeed. Even the blunt-eyed among you will notice that it has a Deering head and steel strings. I bought it knowing that, and having read Jody's opinion that these banjos sound great with steel strings. And it does. It also has modern tuners, which work beautifully.
The one thing I don't like is the rough quality of the head. If the head has to be plastic, then I'd prefer super-smooth. Of course, it doesn't have to be plastic. I could get a goatskin head and gut strings, and a big part of me wants to try that someday, but I also love the sound of it as is, whether plucked with fingers or a plectrum.
So, I got two banjos delivered in one day, this and the Cammeyer Vibrant Royal. Both very different, though the difference is lessened by having steel strings on the XX. So, I've got lots of things to sort out in my mind about what to do with these instruments. Looking forward to immersing myself again in the banjo.
Thanks to Matt from Eagle Music, who told me this was a special one, the best XX Special they'd had in. I can believe it. As it was a commission I made a lower offer, and we met almost half way. Very happy.
Congratulations, Rob on acquiring one of the best sounding banjo models ever made, anywhere. The rough textured head indicates that this is a type of synthetic intended to give a warmer sound than the smooth type plastic heads but not as dark and dampening as a "Fiberskyn" head. I have the same kind of head on my XX (which has a maple neck and rim). I find it's perfect. I would not use a smooth plastic head in combination with steel strings on this banjo. It would sound too bright for my tastes. With nylon or gut strings the smooth plastic head is likely to sound good.
Thanks, Jody. Certainly it is the best banjo I've ever played. I'll take on board your comments re string type matching head type.
Congratulations Rob - two high-end banjos to play with. Looking forward to more musical posts!
Thanks, Carrie. We shall see. My thoughts overnight are that two steel-strung banjos might roughen-up my finger pads, which would not be good for my other instruments. So, for the XX I’ll get some gut strings, maybe a nylgut set, and see how each material reacts with this head. The zb will remain with its original strings.