Advice and questions on making and fixing instruments
I'm wondering if it's ok to get a skin wet while it's tight on the drum at full tension?

I want to dye it (with natural pigment) and I'm hoping it's ok to just brush the dye on without loosening the drum? I would let it sit with the dye on it for a while, and then wipe off the excess later with a wet paper towel. If necessary I could take care not to fully soak it, and brush it on thinly.

I wouldn't normally bother with dying a skin, plain things usually look best to me, but it's a bit of an ugly off-putting skin and I bought the drum for others to play. It sounds great though, and is virtually unused, no point in replacing it yet.

Wouldn't recommend that. I did wet the skins on some djembes once because the ringswhere all too close to the bearing edge to play. Half of the skins broke after a short while, half didn't. So if you go for a 50-50 chance, you can do it. I wouldn't as long as it sounds good.
Thanks for the Reply.
I wonder though, did you pull the skins tighter after wetting them?
I would be leaving it where it is (the ring is nice and low).
Perhaps there wasn't enough skin to be stretched further on those Djembes, and pulling them caused them to rupture?
batadunbata wrote:I wonder though, did you pull the skins tighter after wetting them?
I would be leaving it where it is
Yes, I did. I had to, unfortunately, to bring the rings down. You can leave them where they are, but if you soak a tighly stretched skin it'll stretch further and thus gets lower in pitch. Then you have to pull.

But I had them soak comletely. If you just give them a wipe it's something different. You said you will wet them for a while. Skin starts to get soft after half an hour, but does not soak completely. I think you have to try and risk the rupture if dying the skin is important to you. If you do, give us short notice if it turned out well.
Depends on the skin, I guess. My best djembe has thick spotted african goatskin on it, and last summer it happened to be in a drizzle for 20 minutes. I was very worried about it, but there have been no problems afterwards at all, I still play it, cranked it up even more.
It's a hit and miss affair. A wet skin is a lot weaker than a dry one. I've had more than one djembe pop in high humidity weather (with and without it being played). With a new skin, I guess your chances are better. Once the skin nears its end of life, it'll often pop in high humidity.

Wow thanks for all the replies and helpful answers!

I didn't realize it would stretch, thanks for the warning. I'll have to be careful.

Dr Tom:
Ok, that makes sense, I will try to brush the pigment on as dry and thin as possible, in stages.

Interesting, I've been scared of rain, so good to hear there were no problems with a thick goatskin. This one seems medium to me, but I'm not very familiar, only seen a few drums in person.

I didn't know that, good to know. Fabric gets stronger when wet, so I wouldn't have guessed that. Considering this, I'll brush it on in thin lines, parallel to the the radius, with spaces between, and let it dry before brushing more on, to preserve the strength. But once dry, the pigment should make it stronger (like tanning leather).
Sure Djembefeeling, thanks. Here's photos from the ad (I bought it on Ebay).
I should mention that it's not just about dirt, but cleanliness. I didn't want to mention this earlier, but I think I caught something from the drum, (sore throat after playing) so I want to sterilize it and seal it.

The photo doesn't really show the skin very well, since it's not fully lit. It looks fine in the photo. The skin is lighter than this now, because I've scrubbed it with a magic eraser sponge. I got sick again while cleaning it. Dirty goat :( I'll post a photo soon of how it is now before I dye it.

I'll need to put something on it, because cleaning left it kind of dry and raw. I'm thinking a light treatment with sheep's Lanolin, with a bit of Tee Tree oil in the Lanolin to sterilize the skin.
The natural pigments I'm considering would be antimicrobial too, and help seal the skin.

It's a cute little Iroko drum, 10" head, 19" tall. Sounds nice, very lively and responsive, good tone, surprising bass for it's size. Guinea style, made by Kambala. Carved and finished like their Master drums. Not sure why, since their small ones aren't usually done this nicely.
Got it to keep handy so I play more frequently, plus it's portable and good size for kids to pick up.
Sounds a bit like a cross between a doumbek, bougarabou and a djembe.
3_reduced.jpg (24.46 KiB) Viewed 2086 times
1_reduced.jpg (35.96 KiB) Viewed 2086 times
2_reduced.jpg (43.37 KiB) Viewed 2086 times