Mayos Music
Guitar Lessons and Instrument Repair

Banjo Anatomy Index

Here at MayosMusic, in addition to offering great guitar/bass lessons and complete luthier services that includes guitar and amplifier repairs/restorations, we are also a great resource service. Below is an anatomy index for the Banjo.

Peghead (Headstock) - At the end of the neck to which the tuning pegs or tuning keys are attached.

Tuner Types - "2-band" offset gear case, planetary 5th string peg, friction 5th string peg, friction banjo pegs, guitar style tuners.

Pegs (Tuners, Tuning Pegs, Machines, Gears, Tuning Machines) - The string mount to and are tuned by them.

Nut - a rectangluar block made of ivory, bone, wood, metal or plastic. It is notched with grooves to position the strings.

Frets - The metal strips mounted on the fingerboard at specific intervals. Usually made of Nickel, Nickel-Silver or Brass.

Position Markers (Inlays) - Fingerboard inlays to reference a playing position. Standard locations: 3, 5, 7, 10, 12, and 15.

Fingerboard (Fretboard) and Binding - A wood strip (1/4 inch thick) glued to the wood of the neck. Frets are mounted to it.

Neck - Made of hardwoods that resist wraping under pressure from the strings. Most commonly used woods: Maple, Mahogany, Walnut and Rosewood.

Neck Heel - The thick butt end of the bneck which joins to the pot.

Reinforcing Rod (Truss Rod, Tension Rod) - A metal rod built into the neck under the fretboard. Designed to keep the neck straight (not bowing) under string tension.

Banjo Head (skin) - The head also known as the skin is a replaceable membrane of calfskin or mylar plastic that picks up the vibrations of the plucked strings and amplifies their sound. It is stretched taut over the top of the rim.

Skin Head - The original type of banjo head made of calfskin. Subject to changes in tension as they expand and contract from changes in temperature and humidity. Has a characteristic plunky tone.

Plastic Head - Usually of mylar plastic, marketed since the 1950's and now standard equipment on most new banjos. Availble in thinner to thicker gauges with thinner sounding brighter.

Clear Heads - Sound tends to emphasize brightness and ringiness. They come in cloudy to translucent to transparent.

Sprayed Heads - Have a grainy opaque finish and sound more like a skin head (plunky).

Head Diameter - The diameter of the Head usually measured in inches (example: 10 3/4", 10 7/8", 11", 12")

Crown of the Head - The vertical, shaped section between the collar and the flat plane of the head. Heads come in three crown sizes: High (9/16 inch), Medium (1/2 inch), and Low (7/16 inche).

Head Tension - The tightness or taut of the head (like tuning a drum). The looser-more plunk bottom end. Tighter - more brightness and louder.

Tension Hoop, Bracket Hooks, and Bracket Nuts - The Tension Hoop (also called Stretcher Band) fits over the edge or collar of the head and stretches the head taut by tightening the bracket (hex) nuts on the bracket hooks.

Banjo Bracket Wrench - Hex wrench for installing and tightening banjo heads.

Rim (Shell) - The circular structure that forms the main part of the pot assembly to which all other parts are attached to it. Usually made of laminations of maple and/or beech.

Bracket Shoes and Rim Screws - The Bracket Shoes provide a bearing surface for the Bracket Nuts when tightening the Bracket Hooks. They are attached to the Rim by the Rim Screws (also called Shoe Screws).

Flange (also called: Resonator Flange, Flange-Plate) - A decorative space-filler between the Rim and the side of the resonator. Can attach to the Bracket Assembly or to a protruding lip machined into the Rim and there would be NO Bracket Shoes.
On Banjos with no Resonator, there is no Flange.

Armrest - Protects the head from wear by the forearm.

Bridge - Made of hardwood that transmits sound vibrations from the plucked string to the head. It is grooved to position the strings. Standard bridge heights are 1/2 inch and 5/8 inch. Compensated 5-string type improves intonation when playing up the neck.

Tail Piece - Holds the strings at the end and behind the bridge. Some are adjustable to control the tension and the angle of the string to the bridge which affects tone and volume. Attached to either the Bracket/Bracket-Shoe or the Flange or on the Rim. Types: Kershner, No Knot, Presto, Waverly, ClamShell, Nashville, and Colby

Tone Ring (Head Bearing) - A metal collar that sits on top of the Rim so that the head can be tightened aginst it.
Types: Flathead Tone Ring, Archtop Tone Ring, Round Rod Tone Ring, Rolled Brass Tone Ring, Whyte Laydie Tone Ring, Bacon FF Tone Ring.

Tension Hoops - Hoop to hold down the Banjo head. Pre-war design. Notched or grooved to fit any hook spacing.

Rim Rod Sets - Attachs the neck and stabilzes the Rim.

Dual Rod Set - For Bluegrass banjo pot

Single Rod Set - For "Old Time Banjo" Pot

Neck Attachment Bolt and Nut - mounting hardware

Dowel-Stick Hardware - For "Old Time Banjo's" dowel to stick neck to Rim attachment

Resonator - The sound-reflecting plate that fits over the back of the Rim. Used for a True Bluegrass sound.

Resonator Hardware - Bracket, Bracket Screw, Wall Lug, Thumbscrew, Resonator Bracket, Tailpiece Bracket.

Miscellaneous Terms

Shubb 5th String Capo - A dovetailed slide bar fitting snugly against the neck - Minimizes retuning between key changes.

5th String Capo Spikes - Mini spikes for 5th string capoing. Old Time banjo style.

Banjo Pick-up - Usually of Piezzo type. A sound pick-up to plug into an Amplifier.

Experience since 1968
Providing Guitar, Electric Bass & Ukulele lessons and Guitar/Amp Repair in the Greater Phoenix Valley area of Arizona including Maricopa County and The Salt River Valley.

Mayos Music will continue to provide Guitar/Amp Repairs in Southern California's South Bay cities and Greater Los Angeles Area.
Originally located in Manhattan Beach and Torrance, California.

Now located in:
Gilbert, AZ 85298
Torrance, CA 90505

(310) 955 - 0246