Changing your banjo head





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Published on Apr 11, 2011

Very useful video if you need to replace your banjo head, showing you step-by-step how to do it, with me, Mississippi Feller, as your personal instructor.

For the first couple of years I never messed around with my banjo, for fear of breaking it, or mess it up somehow. But if you read about it a little, you'll find out that tinkering with your banjo is very good for you, and the banjo itself. You get to learn and understand how it works, gets closer and more intimate with your skin box, and as for your banjo, well, it can sound and even look a lot better. And you might could save money as well.

Do NOT follow my bad example of unscrewing the armrest with pliers. Horrible bad habit. Most likely, it will damage your hardware. It was a bad example and I would have it edited out if I could go back in time, sorry. At least I put a note here to warn people though. Another mistake I made here was at the end of the video, when I called the coordination rod by "truss rod" - in reality the truss rod is the rod inside the banjo neck, and the one part of the banjo that one should avoid messing around with. The coordination rod is a quick fix to adjust string tension, and it works well if handled properly.

Okay, so here, I replace a high crown, originally cloudy, but painted banjo head with a low crown, fiberskyn banjo head. The banjo itself is a very budget instrument, known as the Washburn B-8, which comes with a cheap "Beginner Pak".

Fiberskyn banjo heads are known for their mellow sound and are the head of choice of a lot of clawhammer folk. I'm a Scruggs-style picker, however I might be learning clawhammer in the future. Besides, as I have recently purchased a fancy Washburn B-17 with a very loud, bright and crisp sound, so a mellow, lower-sounding banjo is perfect for practice, besides of being light enough, and cheap enough to carry with me to rough places. And yes, it was an excuse to make this video, as I haven't found many banjo head replacement videos here.

The tension was also way too high, and the banjo was nearly impossible to play. So I installed a new 1/2" low bridge and carefully (and slowly) adjusted the coordination rod until the strings were closer to the fretboard. The result was a lower action, which made the banjo a lot easier and more pleasant to fret and play in general. The 3rd string was buzzing, and I fixed that by placing a very tiny piece of paper on the notch of the 3rd string in the nut (the piece between the peg head and the neck/fretboard), reducing the gap size between the walls of the nut notch and the string, which eliminated the noise completely. That procedure and cheap fix is sometimes useful in the 5th string slot and the bridge as well. Budget banjos can be improved upon tinkering, no doubt.

If you have any questions, leave comments and I will reply to them as soon as I can, it's my pleasure to help. Again, I also recommend the Banjo Hangout website for all your questions and doubts about all-things banjo and good, friendly professional advice. I'm by no means a professional, but I hope I was able to help y'all. Thanks for watching.

TROLLS: This is a video made to help beginners, not an opportunity for you to attack or bash me because you don't like my accent, attitude, face, flags, sideburns, or whatever. If you don't like what you see, please, just move on and let it be. The Dutch have a saying: 'Leef en laat leven' - meaning live and let live. And I believe that is good thinking. Thank you.

- Songs, instruments and musicians featured in this video:


Dixie (Banjo), Burnette's Lament (Appalachian Dulcimer), Turkey In The Straw (Dobro), Cajun Fiddle (Cajun fiddle and pedal steel guitar), Buckaroo and Love's Gonna Live Here (medley on pedal steel guitar), The Resolian (bottleneck parlor guitar), Fireball Mail (Banjo) and Foggy Mountain Breakdown (Banjo).


"Dixie" - performed by "Mississippi Feller", composed by Dan Emmett

"Burnette's Lament" -- performed and composed by "VaDulcimer"

"Turkey In The Straw" - performed by Martin Gross, traditional

"Cajun Fiddle" -- performed by Don Rich & The Buckaroos and Buck Owens, composed by Don Rich

"Buckaroo / Love's Gonna Live Here" -- performed by David Hartley, composed by Bob Morris / Buck Owens

"The Resolian"-- performed by "Bottleneck John", jammin' for Republic Guitars sound sample

"Fireball Mail" -- performed by "Mississippi Feller", composed by Floyd Jenkins (aka Fred Rose)

"Foggy Mountain Breakdown" -- performed by "Mississippi Feller", composed by Earl Scruggs

All rights reserved to owners of the songs, no copyright claims made in this video. My wholeheartedly thanks to the performers for sharing their beautiful music with us.

Video proudly made in Scotland, by a Mississippian.


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