Hi all , I have been given a cheap 6 string banjo to setup , and that part is done. But the guy wants the tone higher , my first thought is that it's a function of the scale length, and string guage. Would the head tension have much effect on the tone ?Any other suggestions? Len

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Definitely,the tighter the skin the more brilliant and piercing.I like a looser damper tone personally.Be careful not to overtighten though I don't know what the limitations are.Oh and cheap will probably always sound that way.Especially a 6 shooter.
Len, the standard strategies for bringing out treble in a banjo are tighten the head, crank the tailpiece down, thin the bridge.
OK thanks Tim and Greg , I will have a go at that tomorrow.Len
Hi Len,
Just an observation: I've read (very good) suggestions for a brighter sound, but not necessarily a higher tone. As an example I've built both travel and dreadnought guitars. They both sound bright but the former has a higher tone due to it's shorter scale length. Is the customer clear on what he's asking you to do?

- Steve
Higher tone as in pitch?As a rule 5 string banjos aren't under a lot of stress but a six string banjo is....if strung w/guitar strings(a totally different animal).All rules go out the window on six shooters.Why did they ever happen?4's and 5's were just fine!
The six string has been around quite a while too.. Sam McGee who played with Uncle Dave Macon played one. Papa Charlie Jackson too (early blues recording artist).

It's true though, I haven't seen any recent quality made six string banjos. My friend owns a cheap modern one made by Dean. She had light gauge electric guitar strings (nickel wound) on it, and asked the opposite question.. if we could mellow the tone. We put a phosphor bronze set on it, and stuck a rag in the back, and she likes it much better. I suggested trying a set of nylon strings too, but I think she was satisfied as is. I had an Aquila brand nyl-gut set on my old open back 5 string banjo and i loved the sound.

Yes.. always good to clarify what we mean when we talk about sound. Is it brighter tone or higher pitch that they're looking for?

There is an old saying about a silk purse and a sow's ear....
Could be the banjo is giving all it has to give....
Well , I I tightened the head and I sounded more like a banjo , he's happy and I told him to try electric strings next time Len
Tighten that head down. But don't over do it. A mylar head has 1/3 the tensile strength of steel and can cause some damage if over tightened. Earl Scruggs has said "I turn it down until it breaks, and then back it off a turn or two. ...


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