The tension hoop captures the edge of the banjo head, and with the help of rim hooks and nuts, stretches and holds the head material tight against the tone ring. There are two options for tension hoops, both made out of solid brass.
Our notched tension hoops are rolled, brazed, filed and polished by hand here in our shop. With this style of hoop, each tension hook grabs the hoop in a notch.
For our 11″ and 12″ banjos (the Broadway and the Cumberland), we also offer a groove-type tension hoop, where the hook grabs the hoop in a groove that has been machined around the outer edge.
While there seems to be no major difference in tone, the handmade hoop is lighter in weight, and gives a slightly more responsive feel to your instrument. Also, many players note that the hand crafted notched tension hoop offers a bit more finished look versus the grooved tension hoop.
With grooved tension hoops, you will want to check occasionally that the hooks remain aligned vertically and pointed towards the center of the head. It just takes a small wrench and a few seconds to do and will help keep your banjo looking crisp and sharp.