|Sounding Surfaces and Quality of Tone|
|The bridge and sound quality|
|Varying thickeness of the wood|
|Thickness and internal bracing|
Writing in the FIGA issue of January-February 1990, Louie Catello recalls that violin-family instruments achieve a balanced tone, regardless of tonal range, through graduated thickness of their tops, as do the best handmade guitars. He also touches on the matter of wood density, without developing it any further, remarking that the various woods have different densities, as a result of which “some experienced luthiers often tap the wood to check its resonance in critical areas”. (This hints at the theory put forth in the fourth perspective, discussed below, but does not follow it out to the point of suggesting that density rather than thickness be controlled.) Catello reports that unfortunately for banjo players, the cost of producing a banjo head of varying thickness is prohibitive; but if, as Karon suggests, the bridge and/or bassbar may be at least as important as the sounding surface in getting optimum tone quality (from wooden surfaces), perhaps there is something here that could be applied profitably to the banjo (with its plastic or natural skin head).