Tensioning the Head on Your DUKE10 Banjo Uke

How to get the sound that you love.

Watch our friend Kelly Trafford (@fourstringstrummer) as he shows you how to change the tension on your banjolele, and also what difference it makes to the tone. 


Transcription of the video (auto-generated):

Today we're going to do something a little bit different we're going to talk about head tension on your banjo ukulele and how you can set it up to make it have the sound that you really love.
I've got two identical DUKE10 Banjo Ukuleles - these are the new Version 3 and we are going to compare different head tension on them. Having two exact same ones, we're going to be able to do a (wait for it) head-to-head comparison - stop! My stitches :-) I know. Anyway, you'll be able to hear the difference between them. Let me show you how this works - so on the on the rim of the banjo here you've got these (tension) hooks and they just hook over the top (over the edge of the drum rim) and as you tighten them down you can see there's like a little nut on the end here what that does is it pulls down and tensions the head okay so the more tension that you put on the head um the more
different the sound is going to be okay if you go with a looser sort of a of a head you're going to end up with a sound
that's maybe a little bit less resonant it's a little bit warmer um possibly less volume okay if you go with a tighter uh
tension on the head you're going to end up with a brighter sound something that um is maybe a little bit bit louder okay has
a little bit more resonance a little bit more sustain now there are exceptions to this okay if you go uh way too loose or
way too tight you're just going to end up ruining the sound because if you go too tight basically there's no vibration in
the top or such a small amount of vibration that you lose the sound okay if you go too loose it's just going to be a dead
sound as well okay it gets really sloppy so I've already pretensioned the as I mentioned let me show you how I go about
tensioning it and how you know how much tension to put on it okay what you do is um just check it first and you're just
going to listen for the for the for the sound okay you can hear that sort of drum tension kind of a thing okay and when you
go to tension this you'll get a certain amount of resistance as you go to tighten this up all right so if it feels like it's
pretty tight already um you don't want to go overtightening this now what's overtightening mean I don't know there's I don't
have a specific um foot pound or anything like that that you that you tighten these to but just just torque it just a little
bit and you'll see what I mean that you'll get a little bit of a of a tension feel for it um and as you're tensioning this
just tension it like about a quarter of a turn at a time don't go cranking it around two or three times just a quarter of a
turn so start with one and then go to the opposite side do the next one down here it's kind of like when you're changing the
tires on your car sort of a thing okay so you start with one up here then you go to one down here then you start with one
over here then you go opposite there and work your way around the rim okay now you might find that if your banjo you've been
playing it for a while or maybe it just came from the factory where one is a little bit looser than the others you might
have to turn that one individual one a little bit more than the others just to get that same feel of tightness as you're
tightening it up okay but again generally try to just a little bit at a time once you've gone all the way around it again
give it a little tap and then play it a little bit okay tune it up make sure it's all in tune then play it a little bit and
listen for it is it starting to sound brighter is it starting to give a little bit more resonance a little bit more volume
Etc all right now what I'm going to do if you listen to this one okay that one I haven't tensioned this one I have tensioned
okay I think you'll be able to hear that through the mic um one more time okay this one is a is a sharper sort of a sound
because it has been tensioned that extra little bit and again that was only like about a quarter of a turn okay now what
I'll do is I'll play them through for you and you can hear each one and the difference in the sound all right here we go all
right so let's start off with the Sound Comparison less tensioned head and listen for how warm this one is and then I'll
play the uh tension head so here we go [Music] all right so kind of a warmer sort of a woodsier sound let's play this one
you'll hear the difference [Music] all right so you can hear how much brighter it is little bit more volume as well a little
bit more sustain one more time I'll play this [Music] one [Music] okay one's not right one's not wrong it's just what you
like I prefer a little bit of a brighter the the the brighter edge of this one than the than the super warm kind of woodsier
sound um but this still has that enough of that warmth in it that it's not really Brash and you know biting at your ear kind
of a thing so the really cool thing about banjo ukul as opposed to a regular ukulele is you can adjust this to fit your own
sound preferences right where on a regular ukulele really about the only thing you can do is change the strings to a
different type of string I mean you can do that with a banjo ukulele as well but this head tensioning thing I think it's a
thing that um people are kind of scared of they think oh my God you know it's not that big a deal just tighten it up just
again don't go crazy just a little bit quarter of a turn and have a listen for it and I think it'll really make a difference
for you all right folks that's it for today until we see you next time keep smiling keep strumming and have fun. bye for now.
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