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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
Bev Lawton My Bodhran is too tight (110* d) RE: My Bodhran is too thight 13 Jun 99

I have been reparing and making bodrhans for a while now and the best substance I know to "feed" a skin is "LIQUID NIKWAX" this is a natural liquid wax that is actually used for high quality leather walking boots but it is used on all leather/skins in UK. It will be readily absorbed by a drum skin apply liberally from the OUTSIDE PLAYING surface - wipe any excess off. You do not need to do this often - every 3/4 months - too often will soften the skin and cause it to rip at the edges. One thing you can do to temporarily ease a skin is to keep a potatoe cut in half in the drum bag (it does work honest!). This problem vary's with the skin type and ther tends to be two popular skins used for bodrhans : 1. Calf Skin - this is thinner and dryer - tends to be on the cheaper drums - this is usually used on all the painted "celtic" drums flogged to the poor unsuspecting public/tourist trade! 2. Goat Skin - this is far thicker,resonant and hold the moisture better. This is usually left plain on drums as you can see it is a much better skin and less translucent than Calf's. 3. My personal favorite is actuall Deer skin as it is thicker still and produces a lovely LOW resonance. One method to loosen a PERMANTLY tight skin is to soak the skin untill it is very loose - tighten the tuning ring until it is HALF extended - allow the skin to dry naturally - ie NOT in the sun! If it is a new drum/skin I would not advise this as it will get a lot looser with playing. The only really permanent solution to thi problem is to move the skin on the rim. Take heart it is not a difficult job - it just needs care. A. If the drum has a cloth/wood/metal band holding the skin/covering the nails it has to be removed. B. Use a flat bladed implement such as a screwdriver etc Hold the drum with the skin facing/touching your belly so that the screwdriver gets pushed AWAY from you and more importantly THE SKIN OF THE DRUM! C. Slide the blade under the band and the nails and prise gently upwards (remember/mark the drum where the band split starts) D. You need to prise the nails up from the skin now. E. It is hard to do this in the same direction as removing the band ie with the skin towards your belly. You will need to VERY GENTLY wiggle the blade between the drum rim and the skin under the tack/nail head and lever it GENTLY upwards to get the tack up. It is better to angle the blade along the rim rather than at ninety degrees from the open end of the drum towards the skin ( a slip at 90 deg tends to mean the blade shoots forward THRU the skin - THIS SHOULD BE AVOIDED!!! ) If you angle the blade at approx 0 - 30 deg to the rim then a slip tends to just dig/tear at the edge of the skin and no real problem occurs. F. You may tear the skin over a few tacks - this will not matter as you need to use a combination of old and new holes when replacing the skin any way. G. Once all the nails are out you have two options. i. If the rim edge the skin folds over is a 90 deg all you need to do is to round the corner off approx 1/4 inch and replace the skin IN THE SAME POSITION. Continue from J. ii. If already rounded you need to move the skin. TO MOVE THE SKIN H. Soak the skin totally in water for approx half an hour. I. Squeeze skin dry - pat dry with a cloth. J. There will be a mark where the skin bent over the rim make sure you start tacking the skin about 1/8 - 3/16 inch TOWARDS the rim edge using this mark as a guide. K. Tack the next bit of the skin OPPOSITE the first tack ie accross the diameter. L. Next tack should be at 90 deg ie quarter from the first/second tack. M. You just keep halfing the distance between the tacks and then do the opposite side. N. Use a combination of existing tack holes in the skin and new ones. O. When all the tacks are done replace the rim band. P. Tighten the tuning band to HALF ITS extension and let the skin dry naturally. You should now be able to tune/detune the drum properly. Regards, Bev Lawton.

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