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Thread: Question about banjolele head replacement (with pics!)

  1. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
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    The ring on mine is about 1/4" higher than the skin too. Plays fine.
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  2. #12
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    If you're at the level of the fretboard, you'll likely be fine. As suggested, try a straight edge to see if the strings will clear. If they will, string it up and let's hear it!

    Goatskin isn't too thick. it adds no height to the pot at all. Vellum is traditionally calfskin, but goatskin is called vellum as well. A calfskin head will be thinner, but the only thing its going to effect is tone, which will be slightly sharper in most cases. don't worry about goatskin - its a great choice for a banjo uke and it will have a warmer tone, which is not a bad thing for your family members' ears.

    Also remember that your head will loosen slightly as it settles over the next week or two. You may actually find that it needs a quarter turn of tightening in a couple of weeks - you also may find that it sits well and doesn't loosen, in which case, don't tighten. You'll also find that rainy or damp weather makes the head go temporarily slack and your sound gets a little duller - don't worry - it comes back, and if you have a gig on a rainy day, you may want to tighten temporarily.

  3. #13
    Join Date
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    Are you sure you have both rings on correctly?
    If one of them is upside down it may not fit properly.
    I put a new head on mine and had no issues.
    You may be able to re-wet the head and see if you can stretch it a bit more.
    I did not trim mine until I was al done.
    Keep Strummin'

  4. #14
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    Just my 2 cents.
    Since you have not had to poke any holes in the Head I would re-soak it and then bring the head about 1/8" to where its final tighening would be. The only banjo ukes I have done are inline heads so it is a one time shot.
    so I am saying yes to resoaking it, wetting it while on will not work, tried it once to only destroy the instrument
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  5. #15
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    The only issue there is that he's cut the vellum already, so unless he gets on centered exactly, it won't hold.

  6. #16
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    Nov 2010
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    Well, I went ahead and left the tension ring at 1/4" above the vellum. I put strings on it, polished the fretboard and put the bridge on. It's still settling into tune (the strings are anyway), but it does sound unique. Certainly much louder than the original paper head that was on there. I sanded down the bridge a little bit because the action was off the charts high, but it seems like it will work as is. No weird intonations that I can detect with my tin ears.

    The banjo uke certainly has a different sound to it - very plunky and 'in your face'. Hopefully I set it up well. All in all, it was a fun project to mess with!

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    --- All held up with a Uke Leash (thanks Lori!)

  7. #17
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    Plunky and 'in your face' are a good start!!

    Remember, Jeeves left Wooster when Bertie bought a banjolele. My wife protests whenever I play when she's in the house. This is the natural order of things when you're playing banjo uke.

    Welcome to the dark side. (maniacal laughter ensues)

    You may want to sand down further as you play if you notice you're working a little harder to fret up the neck or going out of tune when you fret open chords. I've always bought 1/2" bridges and often sand down to 7/16s or even closer to 3/8s. But play for a while and see what you think before committing to an even lower action. Remember, no matter how the head goes on, the bridge always basically sits on the same plane; as long as your strings are clearing the bezel ring, you'll be fine.

  8. #18
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    Awesome, a playable instrument is a success in my book. Also Welcome to the dark side, we have cookies
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  9. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by ukeeku View Post
    Awesome, a playable instrument is a success in my book. Also Welcome to the dark side, we have cookies


    I'm using that!

  10. #20
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    Nov 2010
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    Omaha, Nebraska
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    Mmmm...cookies...

    I may be sanding down the bridge a bit - higher up the neck is a bit lofty in terms of action. Unfortunately, I ordered a second banjo head because a few people said I'd have to redo it. Anybody need one? It's natural goat skin!

    When one sands down the bridge on a banjolele, do you sand the 'feet' or base of the bridge, or the notches where the strings sit?

    I'm still waiting for the Aquila banjo strings I bought (with the 'C' string wound) to settle in. But it is definitely a different beast than my sweet little sopranos!

    Thanks for all the advice and support!

    Makala Dolphin (Yellow Burst) soprano
    Fluke Flea Tiki King soprano
    Fluke Concert 'Natural Finish', with pickup
    Sprucehouse SO soprano
    Ohana PK25g Solid Mahogany Pineapple Soprano
    --- All held up with a Uke Leash (thanks Lori!)

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