[Get the best from drums with natural skin heads from Waywood Music]

Tuning Drums with Natural Skin Heads


Drums with No Mechanical Means of Tuning.

This category includes some bodhráns, hand drums, and various ethnic pot drums.

For these drums, a basic understanding of the influence of the environment on natural skin heads is necessary.

Some examples of percussion with no tuning are shown in the pictures below.


[Morroccan bendir]

Moroccan Bendir
(click on image to enlarge)


[Turkish frame drum]

Turkish Frame Drum
(click on image to enlarge)


Influence of the Environment on Natural Skin Heads

The atmosphere in which you play will greatly influence the tone of your drums (which is why some players choose synthetic heads which do not 'move' with changing 'climate'). The following is a general guide which will help you to get the best sound from your drums in a range of atmospheres:

The MORE HUMID the atmosphere, the SLACKER the head will become. The TONE will also become DULL.

The DRIER the atmosphere, the TIGHTER the head will become and the TONE will be BRIGHTER.

The WARMER an atmosphere, the BRIGHTER the TONE.

The COOLER an atmosphere, the DULLER the TONE.

HOWEVER, a warm, humid atmosphere will lead to the drum de-tuning i.e., getting slacker! Therefore, if you are fortunate enough to play with stage lighting in a damp or humid room, ensure that some is focused on the drums before you start to play so that they sound good from the beginning.

If your drums become too dry and tight, and therefore risk splitting, rub the skins gently with a damp cloth to de-tune them slightly. You will need to monitor skin tension throughout the night.

Quite a lot effort but well worth it.


To get the BEST sound from skin heads, ensure that they are warm. This can be achieved by leaving them in a warm place, rubbing them with your hands or using a heat source e.g., small electric blanket, hairdryer or stage lighting. However, keep a CLOSE WATCH on skin tension as it may get TOO TIGHT and 'EXPLODE'.


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