View Full Version : Tenor Banjo Questions Crown Height??

Nov-12-2010, 8:38pm
Hello All,
I just got my new 1920's-30's Slingerland Maybell TB. She's not much to look at, but seems to be serviceable. I want to replace the grungy head and I was wondering how to determine the crown height from the bottom of the tension ring to the top of the head is about 9/16". I believe thats medium crown but there is some conflicting information out there regarding how to measure. I would appreciate any help determining the proper height.
Thank You

John Flynn
Nov-13-2010, 4:17pm
I got tricked on this very issue replacing the skin head on my 30's Concertone with a modern plastic head. As I am sure you've read, the measurement is supposed to be from the TOP of the mounting band to the top of the head. In essence, you've measured it right, because the bottom of the tension ring and the top of the mounting band are essentially the same.

I measured mine correctly also. But I should have been suspicious when I noticed the measurement on the instrument, under tension, was right on the edge between and medium and a high, but off the instrument, it measured as a medium. I ordered a medium, but it did not work. With a medium, the tension band was so high that the strings would touch the band when pressed to the higher frets. It turned out I needed a high crown.

Here is what I think I learned. Those old skin heads must just stretch more under tension than the new plastic ones. I think the measurement advice you commonly find online is too simplistic. Here are some things I would also look at in addition to the standard advice: How much room is there for your tension ring to move "down" farther (toward the back of the instrument), both in terms of clearance against the inside of the neck heel or any other obstacles, and in terms of threads available on the tension hooks. If you have a ways to go, you might err on the side of a higher crown. I had plenty of space to go, but I didn't think of that, I just went with the advice you find online, which most commonly says to measure with head off the instrument.

I also learned a lesson on types of heads. I started with a Renaissance, but it was too harsh. I settled on a Fyberskin, a bit less volume, but more mellow. It is personal taste, so you may have to experiment. Fortunately, heads are not too expensive. I can also recommend the Irish Tenor Banjo site. Great folks, great advice over there.

Nov-13-2010, 8:54pm
Thank You John. I have a little room between the mounting band and the heel 1/8" maybe and plenty of thread on the hooks. I think I will go with a High Crown Fyberskin Head. Thanks again for clearing that up.