Elite Amber Banjo Heads

  • 13 Reviews
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Warm tone with extra clarity. Bring new tone possibilities with a sound that's a bit brighter than the original Elite, but warmer than a standard plastic head.

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11" low crown

Item # 0498-L
In stock, ready to ship!


6 or more $15.63
12 or more $13.47

11" high crown

Item # 0498-H
In stock, ready to ship!


6 or more $15.63
12 or more $13.47

12" high crown

Item # 0499-H
In stock, ready to ship!


6 or more $16.87
12 or more $14.54
Quantity Discount Prices apply when you buy multiples of the same item number.
Total: $0.00
Quantity: 20


Warm tone with extra clarity. Bring new tone possibilities with a sound that's a bit brighter than the original Elite, but warmer than a standard plastic head.

Get more "snap" for old-time playing and more depth for bluegrass.
This modern head material is unaffected by moisture and resembles antique amber translucent calfskin. A banjo with a flathead tone ring (or a flat-topped banjo) usually requires a high crown head. The low crown version fits a banjo with an archtop tone ring.

Choosing the right size banjo head
Measure your banjo for the correct head diameter
Your banjo's rim may be slightly out of round, so take at least three diameter measurements at different points on the outside of the banjo's tone ring or rim top. Use the average diameter to the nearest 1/16" to order the correct size.

Most modern banjos use an 11"-diameter head. Modern makers of "old-time" open-back banjos usually use 11" (and sometimes 12") heads. Vintage banjos, however, may have a range of rim diameters from 10" to 12".

Choose the correct crown height
Crown height is the vertical distance from the top 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. A banjo with an archtop tone ring requires a low crown head. The correct crown height prevents the banjo's tension hoop from pulling down too far, and ensures the hoop won't be so high as to impede the strings.

Ratings & Reviews

Elite Amber Banjo Heads

  • Based on 13 Reviews
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Not quite the Elite but okay

By JClay from San Fernando Valley
(Customer's Reviews) Monday, March 31, 2014

I got these because now they are the only thing offered in high crown. I used to use the Elite, or Fiberskyn before that, and loved the tone for my archtops. Appearance too. However I had uneven tension in making them work. So I tried the Ambers, out of curiosity and necessity, and they're okay. I get a plasticky sound from the high end, although the low end and midrange are good. Don't like the translucent look though; nobody wants to see my tone ring and tension rod. I wish the Elites would come in low crown but these are okay. I will try other heads to see if any are better.

banjo parts

By alan funk from , REYNELLA EAST, Australia
(Customer's Reviews) Saturday, March 22, 2014

I have been buying banjo stuff from Stew Macs for over 20 years & have nothing but praise for their super service. Congratulations for your great service. Photo is Irish tenor, using 5 star heads.

What a Sound

By jcj from Texas
(Customer's Reviews) Sunday, September 15, 2013

I can't really explain in words the tone of these heads. It is a wonderful banjo sound that makes you want to hear more, rather than slapping you in the face. I think we will use them on all our 5 and 6 string open back banjos from now on.

Balance of Tone... Strength of adjustment...

By Townsend Collection from Tahlequah Ok
(Customer's Reviews) Saturday, June 22, 2013

It is a perfect fit for my 1920's SS Stewart tenor banjo... This surprised me... I say perfect, but time does funny things to banjo's... It took a lot of brute force to get it into the form the banjo has changed into... This head took extremely well to the contortions which at one point involved a hammer... After the tightening process was complete, everything looked like precision fit... As for the tone, I am amazed at the resonance and feel of it. It is warm and bright, but not annoying at all. If you are looking to tone down the brightness that makes most people want to smash banjos, but keep good tone, This is it...

Great tone but not built to last.

By JosephFaison from New Orleans, LA
(Customer's Reviews) Saturday, March 03, 2012

I primarily work as a traditional jazz player but I also play old time clawhammer. I have found that the elite amber (also, apparently exactly the same as "Renaissance" heads) really are the best for getting that old, warm plunky sound you want when you are playing pre WWII genres. HOWEVER, they do not hold up to a lot of wear and tear. Before I switched to the eilte I was breaking a banjo head about once every two years, now it's about once every 4 months. That said, I play with a pick usually and play often very forcefully on a daily basis. I don't plan on ever switching from these things because the sound is just perfect without the hassle of a skin head (especially in an extremely humid climate with clubs that blast AC all the time), but I just thought it's worth the mention; these things do not last. But at 17 bucks a pop its worth it for me :)

Elite Banjo Head

By Ron Brown from Rapid City, South Dakota
(Customer's Reviews) Friday, January 13, 2012

Needed a hi-crown head to fit over the retrofit brass tone ring. When it all fit together, it fit like a glove, was really able to torque it down for maximum tone and resonance. Looks well made and the price was right, thanks!

Reliable banjo heads

By Andybanjo from UK
(Customer's Reviews) Friday, November 18, 2011

Nice sound & pleasant appearance. With most of the use being on old-time banjos, the fact that the head material could be a bit more firmly fixed to the flesh ring isn't that critical. Wouldn't want to use this head on a banjo that needed serious head tension - a 5-Star would be better for that job

Elite Banjo Head

(Customer's Reviews) Sunday, October 30, 2011

I was looking for a head to replace the plastic head on my B&D Silver Bell, one that was closer to the calfskin sound. The Elite Amber head did the trick.

Good Head!

By Trev from Charleston, SC
(Customer's Reviews) Tuesday, July 05, 2011

I will not go into great detail here but what other reviewers have said I also found to be true.

Looks : Beautiful head, made an old bean blossom look like a completely different instrument!

Tone : Warm is an understatement in my opinion. Although I loved the way it looked it did not produce the punch I wanted. So back to the old frosty for me. For anyone looking to create that older sound this is your head.

Construction : One of the better made heads I have come across. This thing is well built! I accidentally tripped and stepped on the thing during the installation process, and i'm not a little guy.... still no problems.

Terrific Sound

By C. Dobson from Hastings, Ontario
(Customer's Reviews) Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Thank you for the Elite banjo head. It looks great and has a very resonant warm sound.

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