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Old 02-13-2007, 07:22 PM   #1
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Caring for Drum Heads

This may seem like an offbeat question, but here goes. I was noticing the other day while sitting in with some guys singing that the drum head had a couple of areas where the hide (buffalo I think) was looking like it had some spidery surface cracks. When I ran my hand over it, I could feel some of the cracks, others I couldn't. They didn't look deep and they didn't look like it was from any misuse.

So have others seen this? Is it anything to worry about? Is there anything that could be done to "recondition" that area or the whole head?
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Old 02-13-2007, 09:35 PM   #2
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I have a djembe (I know - that's NOT a pw drum). It was a gift and made by someone close to our family and it does see quite a bit of use. The head is goat (not buffalo) but it is hide, nonetheless.

This drum is played with the hands, not a stick. In preparing to play, the hands are coated with "drum butter" - basically nearly pure shea (an african nut) butter. The hide also gets rubbed with the drum butter both before tuning (it has diamond knotwork which needs to be tightened or loosened depend on humidity and temperature so that the drum gives a good sound) and after playing. Drum butter helps condition the hide and keeps it from cracking.

We keep the hide covered with a cloth when not in use - both as a protectant and out of respect for the animal that gives the drum its voice. The hide that is on the drum has been there for 10 years now. I've seen regularly used djembe that had hides that were 20 years old or more.

I'll be interested in learning what goes into the care of a pw drum.
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Old 02-14-2007, 05:04 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hobbs49 View Post
This may seem like an offbeat question, but here goes. I was noticing the other day while sitting in with some guys singing that the drum head had a couple of areas where the hide (buffalo I think) was looking like it had some spidery surface cracks. When I ran my hand over it, I could feel some of the cracks, others I couldn't. They didn't look deep and they didn't look like it was from any misuse.

So have others seen this? Is it anything to worry about? Is there anything that could be done to "recondition" that area or the whole head?
I've seen a few drums with cracks like the ones you are talking about..... newer drums tended to have more "rough edges." the more a drum gets used, the heads will become smoother, and also depends what side is up on that head... the hair side tends to be more even.... the side were the flesh and fat were tend to be more rough... dependin on how good it was scraped.... and if you don't get everything off and use lime, it will have a rotten smell to it....

It is good to wipe down the drum with a damp cloth and store it in a place with a lil moisture to keeps the heads from pullin too hard and crackin. and when you need to tune your drum do it by the sun or fire....
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Old 02-15-2007, 09:18 PM   #4
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..... and also depends what side is up on that head... the hair side tends to be more even.... the side were the flesh and fat were tend to be more rough...
Hmmm.... i was taught that there's only one way the hide should be on a drum..... hair side out. That's the way the hide came factory installed on its original owner. Nuff said.

Drum hides are meant to be replaced - shoot I know guys who hit the trail hard who get their drum recovered at the end of each summer.... And they usually got at least two drums with them at all times anyway just in case. Not being able to see the cracks, it could be one of two things - crappy job fleshing/scraping the hide, or normal wear and tear and it's just time to get new hides.

Also, there are major differences between the different kinds of hides available. Home-made scraped hides are the best if they're done right. Leather shops often sell cow and horse, so be sure to ask what you're getting... also those commercially processed hides are often pulled off the carcass with machines, which can over stretch the hide, causing it to lose some elasticity. Keep that in mide when tying a drum with commercially processed rawhide.
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Old 02-15-2007, 11:08 PM   #5
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Heat the hides-up gradually by a fire. Then when the drum has the sound that we want, we cure or "set the pitch" by rubbing bear grease into the pores of the hides. This practice helps condition the hide from cracking and gives the hide a moisture-proofing that keeps the drums pitch true; especially, during a cool or rainy day. Anyway, thats what our uncles told us to do--their advice has always been right-on!!
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Old 02-22-2007, 09:20 AM   #6
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Thanks for the info everyone! Lots of different thots out there! I've heard the caution about commercial hides before so there's probably some good truth to that. Right now, we're not too worried but we're keeping our eye on it and we'll certainly take some of these suggestions to hopefully keep them in check. But if not, as Str8Dancer said, "Drum hides are meant to be replaced"

Again, thanks and I appreciate the ideas!
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Old 02-22-2007, 12:22 PM   #7
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Dang!

I thought this thread was about caring for "Drum Heads" like:

LSS
suthernwaterbird and
tacO5000?


*L
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Old 02-22-2007, 12:28 PM   #8
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LOL...sorry that was funny...
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Old 02-22-2007, 01:31 PM   #9
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Well, WhoMe, some of them are pretty cracked :-)
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Old 02-22-2007, 05:28 PM   #10
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Hey we are mearly helpin...none of us are head singers...we jus sing with this online drum group..called the rugged nuggets...Whome IS the head singer...so...BUST IT OUT CHIEF I...
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Old 02-22-2007, 05:40 PM   #11
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Hey we are mearly helpin...none of us are head singers...we jus sing with this online drum group..called the rugged nuggets...Whome IS the head singer...so...BUST IT OUT CHIEF I...

suthern,

I thought we agreed we were going to call our group the Oh Boyz..... because everytime we quit singin' ..... you head to the "O!"
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Old 02-22-2007, 06:27 PM   #12
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NOOOO i said... its getin COLLDD..and ma beetsees are gettin harrdd...had to go get a jacket.... so it's settled...we're going as
scabby knees...or grey ankles...

SCREAMIN SQUIRRELS...
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Old 02-22-2007, 08:36 PM   #13
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NOOOO i said... its getin COLLDD..and ma beetsees are gettin harrdd...had to go get a jacket.... so it's settled...we're going as
scabby knees...or grey ankles...

SCREAMIN SQUIRRELS...
yeah...I left my coat back down south...dis SCREAMIN SQUIRREL hollars b/c its so cold he lost his nutts!....

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Old 02-23-2007, 09:41 AM   #14
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*LOL

Thanks for startin' my day with a good laugh!

Dang, you guys are tooooo much!
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Old 02-23-2007, 10:56 AM   #15
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Idk guys...but if we get this group together..i think we should let BILLY B. be head singer what ya think??
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