Apart from rim size and your particular style of playing, the type of banjo head you select and how tight you stretch it can have more affect on the tone than most other variables.
Natural skin heads were once the traditional, if not only choice, for banjo heads up until about 1960. They produce a wonderful thumpy tone that distinguishes their sound. Each skin exhibits its own unique grain pattern, with interesting strikes, streaks and shades of color.
Natural skin heads react to changes in the weather, particularly humidity, whereas synthetic heads do not. This effect tends to lessen as the skin stretches over time, but you will need to become familiar with tightening and loosening the head as required to keep the tone consistent and the skin in good shape. Each skin, just like each goat, is unique and varies in shades, texture and grain pattern. All our natural skin heads are custom fit and mounted using a hand-rolled and brazed brass flesh hoop.
Our standard synthetic heads are Remo’s “Renaissance” or Stewart McDonald’s “Elite Amber.” Technically the same product, product availability varies. These heads are light golden, almost honey-colored, slightly translucent and produce a full and brighter tone than the natural skins.
Another option is the Fiberskyn head, – a stable, synthetic head whose finish and texture resembles a natural skin head and produces a slightly “thumpier” note than the standard Renaissance head.
Finally, if you simply can’t decide, keep in mind that you can always try different heads at some point in the future.