Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Question on Drum Dial Calibration

I purchased a drum dial awhile back from the BB Store and have a question

in the instructions for it, it states it is calibrated at factory but to insure it is correctly calibrated in the instructions it recommends checking the calibrating by placing it on a sheet of glass or mirror and zeroing it out while on the glass or mirror which I did and then i proceeded to check the heads on each of my banjos when I calibrated it per instructions and pick it up off the glass or mirror it is now reading xxx pounds and when you place it on the head of a banjo it now reads zero pounds so how could that be an accurate reading and how would that be correct if its reading zero when placed on a banjo head after calibration ???
I ended up re setting it without it sitting on a mirror or piece of glass by just holding it in my hand i turned it back to zero and then placed on the head of my banjo and tensioning the head to 90 pounds is my drum dial messed up or is it working correctly???

Hi Don

Message Jake Stogdill

@Jake is perhaps the best person to ask since he uses a drum dial all the time. Here is a couple of video’s worth checking too

Your dial definitely has to be on a known, totally flat surface to be properly calibrated. If you have a granite or quartz countertop in your house somewhere, that might be good enough. I don’t know how you’d calibrate it by holding it in your hand.

89 to 93 is typically where you want your banjo head to be, but without the dial properly calibrated, I don’t think you can know for sure that the reading is correct.

1 Like

@Mark_Rocka When I received the drum dial I calibrated it as per instructions on a flat glass sitting on my kitchen counter top once finished setting the calibration to zero while sitting on glass on my kitchen counter I picked the drum Dial up and it was already reading like 60 on the dial while holding it in my hand after setting calibration to zero on counter top, I then proceeded to set it on my banjo head it immediately went to zero at that point I began to loosen the tension hooks on the head to get the dial to move towards 90 while picking the dial up each time i loosened a hook it never changed from zero so I then proceeded to to re tighten the hooks to finger tight after all hooks were to finger tight I tried to take a reading with the drum dial which at each hook it gave a reading zero so i preceded to tighten each hook about a 1/16th to 1/8th turn each checking with drum dial at each hook as I tightened the dial never changed from zero it finally did move off zero after several times tensioning the tension hooks but in order to get the tension to 89-90 i would have had to tightened all the hooks with a torque wrench so in other words the skin head was stretched to the point I felt it was going to start ripping apart, I then re loosened all the hooks and started over but I tap tuned instead of using the Dial I then re set the Dial to zero while holding it in my hand and checked each hook it seemed to be working correctly then.

As Mark said, it has to zero on a perfectly flat, hard surface, such as a piece of glass. There’s not really any way to zero it in your hand. It you zero it on a piece of glass, but it is not working on the banjo head, it may be broke. If that’s the case, give us a call at the store, and we’ll get you taken care of. 833-226-5623


That’s what I call “First Class Customer Service” fixed

1 Like

It shouldn’t matter what the reading is in your hand. Zero is measured when the plunger is all the way in and sitting on a flat surface. If you’re holding it in your hand, the plunger is all the way out, so it really shouldn’t be sitting at zero anyway.

I’ve always felt like the numbers on the dial are backwards, and that may be what’s throwing you. I mean, if it’s designed to measure the amount of give in a drum head, why not have the hand turning the other way on the dial? Instead of tightening to 90, tighten to 10? It’s confusing for me, so hopefully someone knows why the dial is set up the way it is.


@AdamAsh If you read my whole post I stated I calibrated it on my kitchen counter top which is ceramic tile I sat a piece of glass on my kitchen counter top so I did it just like the instructions stated to do other than sitting the glass on kitchen counter my kitchen counter is dead level by a 4 foot level so I do not know how much flatter I could have made it after I calibrated it as per instructions I noticed the large black arrow after picking it up off the glass was on I believe 60 when I placed it on the head of my banjo the arrow went immediately back to zero and that was with all the tension hooks still tight I then picked it up off the head and proceeded to loosen all hooks after loosening i then sat the drum dial back on the head it was still reading zero which in my mind i either had to loosen the head more or tighten the head i tried both ways it only moved once i started re tightening the hooks in order to get it to go to 90 or even 80 the arrow would have had to move almost 360 degrees to get it anywhere close to that.
What I stated is I then decided to set it back to zero while holding it in my hand when i did that it seemed to work but i do understand that was not correct and that is what i am trying to figure out if it may be defective or i am just not understanding how a drum dial is supposed to work

Not an expert here. Putting it on the glass, you are simulating the maximum tension you can measure with the dial. As you relax the tension on the head, it allows the plunger to extend with the head deflection. More deflection = less tension and lower units of measure, “poundage” on the dial. Keep in mind too, “flat” and “level” are two different measurements. I don’t believe “level” matters as long as the surface is “flat”.

@Don_Smith, if you press the plunger in with your finger, do you feel a resistance there, like the plunger is spring loaded? It almost sounds like the plunger isn’t applying any force to the head, which would be required for it to measure tension.

1 Like

@Don_Smith I was just trying to clarify that the proper way to zero it is the way that you did the first time on the piece of glass and that it doesn’t matter what it reads when it is in your hand. That’s why I said that it may be broke if you did zero it on a piece of glass. As I said, please give us a call at the store and we’ll get you fixed up. 833-226-5623


@Don_Smith is lucky the help center is located in Missouri rather than in some third world no-man’s land like the computer help people are. The first question IT help asks is, “Have you tried turning it off and on again?” after that, it is anybody’s guess.


A question I asked daily when I worked for IBM gif

My customers used to be amazed to find — It Worked


@Archie me to LOL Not the IBM part though I was not bright enough LOL I was lucky just to graduate high school
@Mark_Rocka yes the plunger is working

just got off the phone with Adam and he is sending me a different one and i am returning the one I have
Thank You @AdamAsh was nice speaking to you on the phone and actually putting a voice to someones post LOL


Service… that is what the whole world has gotten away from. I have contacted @AdamAsh and @Jake on a couple of occasions, and have been really impressed.
@BanjoBen … if you keep this up, you may be able to make a living at it. :wink: