How to Measure a Banjo Head? – In Details

Measure your banjo for the right head width. Your banjo’s rim might be out of round a bit, so take in 3 diameter measurements at least at different points on the outside of the banjo’s tone ring or rim top. Use the normal diameter to the closest 1/16″ to get the right size. 

Most of the modern stringed instruments utilize an 11″- diameter head. The manufacturers of classic open-back banjos normally use 11″ or 12″ heads. The vintage banjos may have a wide range of rim diameters from 10″ to 12″. 

Picking the right Crown Height

The height of the crown is the vertical gap from the highest point of the head’s mounting band to the top surface of the head. A banjo with a flathead tone ring or a flat-topped banjo requires a medium or high crown head. Remember, a banjo with an archtop tone ring needs a low crown head. The right crown height keeps the banjo’s tension hoop from pulling down too far and guarantees the band will not be so high as to obstruct the strings. 

Different stringed instruments take banjo heads with various crown heights. If you are willing to buy a beginner banjo like a Deering, let’s find out how to measure a banjo head of Deering.

There is not much difference on how to measure a banjo head, for example, a high crown head is ½” and a medium crown head is 7/16″. It is measured from the highest point of the Mylar edge to the highest point of the aluminum edge of the banjo head. When the head has extended, it is hard to rely upon that measurement for accuracy so it is ideal to know what you need as per manufacturing specifications. 

banjo head crown height

The Goodtime Series banjos, paying little mind to age, will always take a high crown banjo head regardless of which head type you pick. It will allow you to install it simply and get it tightened down enough for the right installation. 

All the upper line Deering banjos made before 2006 will take a high crown head, paying little mind to the style of head. You can use a medium crown but it will take more time to reach over the edge/tone ring to get to the proper tightness. The high crown has more space to slip over without bottoming out on the hooks; i.e. having the option to get the head tight enough before you run out of string to do so on the hook. 

On the other hand, the upper line banjos made on or after 2006 take a medium crown head. It’s because the updated 2006 tone ring has a more adjusted top edge, which doesn’t need the additional depth of crown height. 

All the upper line 12″ rim banjos will require a low crown head and all Goodtime 12″ rim banjos will require a medium crown head.


How tight should a banjo head be?

  • If you are a banjo player with experience and a great ear, the manufacturers recommend tightening it between G and G# on the frosted top heads. For the rest of us, it means that the banjo head should give just a little too mild pressure from our hand and the bridge should surely look like it is resting on a flat surface. 

How do I properly measure my Banjo Drumhead?

  • The diameter of a banjo head is measured inner-flesh-hoop to the inner-flesh hoop of the head. You may need to take the head off to take the proper measurement and flip the head over to measure the inner dimension. The measurement may exact as we go off 1/16″ increases. The crown height is calculated top of the flesh-hoop (the aluminum hoop of the head) to the top of the playing surface of the head. The standard heights are low-3/8″, medium-7/16″, and high-1/2″. 

What size is a banjo?

  • Most modern banjos use an 11″-diameter head. The modern manufacturers of classic open-back banjos usually use 11″ or 12″ heads. And the vintage banjos may come with a wide range of rim diameters from 10″ to 12″. 

What are Banjo heads made of?

  • The heads of the most popular modern banjos are made of the mylar-type plastic head. These heads are furnished in different finishes or coatings, each of which generates a different sound of the banjo. The banjo head is tensioned similar to a drum and provides a different sound to the banjo during its tension range. 

How long does a banjo head last? 

  • As long as the tension of your banjo is uniform, then the head should last long. Before we used various techniques, we seemed to go through one head every 4 years. This is the truth of 5 Star heads. They stretched that much that eventually, the head would bottom out. 

When should I replace my banjo head?

  • There is no regular interval when the banjo heads need to be replaced. There are a number of different setup parameters that may influence the reaction of your banjo. 

Final Verdict

At the end, now you have a basic idea about how to measure a banjo head while buying one. If you have more to know, please feel free to reach out or comment below.

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