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Best way to renew skin - Kenkeni

Posted: Fri Jan 01, 2016 5:15 pm
by Marc_M
Hi -

I purchased a kenkeni from Guinea five or so years ago. One head was fine to play, but the other head was dry and had a woody sound. Now the good head is almost worn through and I would normally switch to the other side. The other head is as bad or worse than when I bought it - it sounds and feels like hitting a thin wood head. Are there any suggestions on rejuvenating the poor skin side?

Thanks for any suggestions and Happy New Year. :dance:

Re: Best way to renew skin - Kenkeni

Posted: Sat Jan 02, 2016 3:32 pm
by djembefeeling
I do have little experience in working on dunduns, because it is so much work to repair and reskin them. But when I had troubles with the sound, there was usually little that could help. When the sound is a but metallic, i.e. there are a lot of ringy frequences with long duration, you can work some oil into the skin and you should drill a hole into the middle of the corpus, approximately 1 inch big.

I just bought back one of my first sets I sold and the sound of the set was rather bad after staying for a couple of years in the basement. The set sounded ringy and dull at the same time, never heard that before. Somebody drowned the skins in shea butter before, but that added just dull sound to the metallic sound. After drilling the holes, ironing the fat out of the skins with loads of paper towels, giving the sangban some more knots and cranking the kensedeni, and turning the two on the other side, however, the set sounds alive again! Actually, I have never had a set before where the sangban and dundun work together in equal dynamics and power. That felt like a success after so many disappointments.

When my kensedeni would sound so dry and woody I probably would work some gun-oil into the skin and let it stay in the sunlight for many hours. You can also try to loose some knots or to add some knots to see where the sound goes. But my best guess is that you do have to reskin the instrument...

Re: Best way to renew skin - Kenkeni

Posted: Sat Jan 02, 2016 9:17 pm
by Marc_M
Thanks for the advice. I will try oiling the skin - If it doesn't improve, I will reskin.