"How To" Tension Banjo Head
Copyright 2017 "Musical Instrument Repairs WA (MIRWA)"             All Rights reserved    E-Mail: service@mirwa.com.au
Banjo Heads stretch and go out of tune, this is a pretty common event, so most banjo players need to retension there heads about once a year, the other time you need to tension your head is if you have installed a new skin and its still settiling in.

This Banjo is approx a year old and in for its first head tune

Time to complete, approx 1hr
I have tuned the C string to pitch.
It should also be a C, if it registers sharp on your tuner, then push the bridge backwards, if its flat move the bridge forward on the drum head.
Time to tension, remove the resonator if it has one.
Place a steel ruler along side the bridge, make sure the ruler sits on the edges of the head.

You may need to cut a ruler down to size to make it fit properly.
I place some shims which give a total thickness of 68"
Stacked in front of the bridge.
Place my ruler back over the top, you can see there is a gap between my ruler and the shims, therefore the head can be tensioned up a bit more.
Placing the banjo back on its back, but not resting on the bridge, we start our tensioning process.
To check if you head needs tensioning, place your hand over the strings at the end of the fretboard. Then tap the top of the drum head and see if it resonates or has a woody dull sound.

If the sound is dull or woody, your instrument could benfit from being retensioned.

Before we start tensioning, we need to make sure our bridge is in the right place.

To do this we tune an open string, any one will do apart from the 5th string, which is the very short one.
Fretting the string at the 12th, I recheck my tuning.
Using a key or spanner, slowly go around the pot and tighten the hoop rods a little.