Advice and questions on making and fixing instruments
By ilnadi
#39336
I have a few 25-30 year old goat skins that have never been used.
  • if they have not cracked or molded, any reason I can't just use them?
  • do you butter them first then soak? reason I ask is because they are rolled up and I am a bit worried about unrolling them just to apply shea butter
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By batadunbata
#39418
Not sure why you didn't get a reply, but in case you haven't used them yet (?), or for other people searching the forum in the future, here's my two cents:

-First of all, who told you to apply shea butter? It dampens the sound considerably, I only apply a tiny tiny amount, IF the skin is very "dry" sounding (full of harmonics, no "unified" tone). And even then I thin it out with essential oil first, to avoid over-doing it. I also use other treatments to unify the tone, but that's another topic.
-Apply any oil after soaking and heading when it's tuned up and all done drying. Oil is hydrophobic, so it will reduce the water absorption in the collagen fibers, and slow the drying process, so it's not helpful to do it before soaking.

-As for skin age, it depends how it's been stored and kept. Vintage drums can be played that have skins on em that are decades old, so it shouldn't be a problem necessarily. That said, it is essentially protein, so bacteria want to eat it if they can, and people often treat the skins to prevent it. If it's been preserved with formaldehyde or ash, it might be more brittle than untreated skin. I'm skeptical of treated skins, and wouldn't waste my time with them personally. Cheap pakistani skins often look "salty", with a patchy fine white coating on them. Also, radiation during import accelerates the chemical bonds breaking down, so they don't last as long (same with sun damage).
But if they're good skins, kept well, should be fine, in my opinion. Skins aren't cheap, but neither is your time and energy, so I'd give em a hard look and compare it to photos online, to see if they look good quality.
They might need a longer soak than usual.
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By boromir76
#39422
ilnadi wrote:
Tue Feb 19, 2019 11:02 pm
I have a few 25-30 year old goat skins that have never been used.
  • if they have not cracked or molded, any reason I can't just use them?
  • do you butter them first then soak? reason I ask is because they are rolled up and I am a bit worried about unrolling them just to apply shea butter
Here are my two cents. I would soak them and mount them as any other skin without any additional buttering or such things... I can't see any good reason for aplying butter on them before soaking. If the conditions and skins are very dry, use shea butter in very small amounts (!), but only when the skins are mounted, dried, cranked up and ready to play. Extra greasing the skins is usualy quite unnenecessary and contra productive in atempt to get better sound. etc.. The skins get greased anyway from our hands during playing.