Here’s a (nearly) silent banjo head I made, for practising at night. It works extremely well. Instructions as follows:
1. Take off original head.
2. Buy a 1m rod of aluminium (I think), about 4mm diameter, and some
mesh used for mosquito nets on windows - about 50cm by 100cm (total cost
about 300 yen, or two quid).
3. Bend the rod into a circle so it’s the same size as the hoop on
the original banjo head. Cut off excess and wrap tape around the join.
4. Cut two pieces of the mesh, a few cm wider than the hoop. Place
them on top of each other so the mesh is at 45 degrees. Fold around the
edges of the hoop and hold in place with a few clothes pegs.
5. Sew around the circumference with strong thread - don’t pull the
mesh too tight. I just sewed a simple line a few mm from the metal hoop.
Glue-gun around the seam and cut off excess mesh.
6. Fit it to the banjo as with a standard head, and tighten as usual.
I found that mine tightened up very tight quite quickly, leaving quite a
high rim around the banjo body. Making the mosquito net looser when
sewing would probably help. It’s still holding strong after several months’ practice.