I play a Deering Maple Blossom tenor banjo. I love it, but it has a well-deserved reputation of being overly bright and powerful, owing to its bluegrass roots.
I’ve struggled with this for years, with various articles of clothing stuck inside, mechanical muting gizmos attached, and playing techniques where I vary the head resonance by altering the way I rest the side of my palm.
Recently, though, I installed a clear, plastic head. My goodness, has it made a wonderful difference. In the past I used a variety of natural, or faux-natural heads to try to get a more mellow sound. None of them compare to the thick, clear plastic head.
I’m getting a much richer, mellow, but still loud, thumping. I’ve said before that an Irish banjo should sound like the farting of metal frogs.
It’s getting there.