May 04, 2003

#51: Crisper tone

Joe from Illinois writes:

I have a Johnson 080-18 bracket beginner's banjo. I'm having a ton of fun learning from it.

String choice is just like quite a few other setup variables (head type and tension, bridge type, height, thickness, etc. etc. My standard answer is: experiment till you find something that seems the best, and go with it. (At least until you change your mind!)

If you want a crisper sound, the most likely way to do that is to tighten the brackets around the head, to add tension. Keep the tension even all around by tightening all the nuts a little at a time as you go around. Check the banjo sound periodically to check it out. When you like it, you might want to keep tightening a little to see if it gets better. If you go too far, loosen back till you hit optimum. Don't worry about breaking the head. You really have to Crank to break a plastic head. And even if you do, they're not expensive to replace.

Let me know how it goes.

Good luck,
Pete Wernick