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Advice and questions on keeping your instruments in top form
By MitchGreen
#37039
Hey, nothing to do with the Djembe but here goes...

I'm pretty much a beginner when it comes to percussion, I recently bought a pair of Meinl Headliner Bongos (pictured below) and I'm really struggling to tune correctly, there is a horrible resonant ringing sound after striking the macho and I don't know whether I'm tuning too high or too low, I was informed that 2 octaves above middle C is standard but I can't seem to reach that high without worrying about snapping the head,

any help is granted, Thanks! :)
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By korman
#37041
Hi, Mitch,

You will likely get more response in a conga forum. Having dabbled with latin percussion, I can give you a few tips, as I have fought the dreaded ringing as well:)

1) the head is new, you need to break it in. after a month of playing it might sound better
2) take off the head and work the bearing edge with beeswax, shea butter or some other natural lubricant. you can rub the underside of the head too
3) when you put the head back on, tighten the nuts by hand so that there is approximately equal distance on each lug. now start tuning with a wrench, in a cross pattern, and tap the head with a wrench near each of the lugs to make sure that the sound is the same. these two steps will make sure that the ringing is not from uneven tuning of the head
4) sometimes the skin will sit on better if you put it in a shallow water (so that only the playing surface gets wet, but not the part where skin is wrapped around the metal ring), soak it for a few hours and then put on back again and pull a little bit. then let it dry and do the tuning up as in step 3)
If you do this, the hoops will go slightly lower than they were in the beginning, so it is best to do this procedure on both heads at once
5) if that fails, you can try various dampening tactics. take a piece of duct tape or medical tape and stick it in various places on the top of head and see if it takes overtones away. once you find a spot, stick the tape permanently on the same place under the skin. I fixed a ringing hembra by placing a Compeed patch (the one you use against blisters) slightly off-center

However, it is possible that nothing will help. The skins they put on in the factory sometimes are just too thin, too processed. This is what you get when the instrument is made in some south-east asian location by people who don't play the music it is meant for and don't have a clue how it is supposed to sound. If all else fails, you must find a supplier of calf skins in your region and simply put on a better skin.

Yeah and don't worry, the skin won't rip from pulling too hard. The weak point in Meinl headliners will be the hardware (hoops) not the skin.