Advice and questions on keeping your instruments in top form
By glorplaxy
#16947
I live in a climate that can be very humid. Some days the humidity is over 80%.

I am thinking about getting a djembe but am worried about keeping it in tune since it has goat skin heads. I have other drums with goat skins and have found it very difficult to keep them even somewhat in tune in my environment, and they usually detune very quickly. Should I expect a similar problem with a djembe?

How often would I have to tune my djembe?

Is there anything I can do to reduce the impact of humidity on my djembe? I have one drum that has a goat skin head but it is lightly smoked and this does seem to keep it in tune a bit better...could something similar be done to a djembe without ruining its sound?

Thanks
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By Dugafola
#16948
i wouldn't worry too much about it.

aside from relative humidity, there are a lot more factors that go into how often you have to tune a drum.

how much you play?
how hard you play?
do your hands sweat?
do you sweat?
do you store your bag in a case? with the zipper always closed?
is the drum skinned properly with tight fitting rings?

there's no standard for how often to tune a drum. basically, if it needs to get tuned up, pull knots or smack it with a mallet.

i usually bring my drums up to pitch slowly. i'll play them for a while at bass drum pitch and slowly work it's way up until it's ballistically cranked so it sounds like a tin can (hahaha just kidding). sometimes i'll have to take out all the knots and re-pull the verts. it's a pain in the ass, but it'll make the drum hold a tune for longer periods of time.

time to go buy a drum now.
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By freefeet
#16957
Dugafola wrote:i usually bring my drums up to pitch slowly. i'll play them for a while at bass drum pitch and slowly work it's way up until it's ballistically cranked so it sounds like a tin can (hahaha just kidding). sometimes i'll have to take out all the knots and re-pull the verts. it's a pain in the ass, but it'll make the drum hold a tune for longer periods of time.
Same thing here. Little bit at a time till they're screaming! :dance:

I live on a farm/estate and it goes from well wet, damp and muddy to bone dry and very dusty. My drums don't seem to mind at all other than my darabuka which has a glued skin that was glued on in a city (Bristol) and has never liked it here so i'll be reskinning it here once the humid weather comes around again.
#16964
I have also observed that a well tuned drum will be less affected from humidity. Also an older skin (which has gone through the initial stretching process) will hold better in humidity than a new skin.
By BobF
#16979
I do the Duga method as well.. I'm not sure if either of these make a huge difference in ability to deal with humidity changes but I've noticed that with thicker skins and really tight rings, I rarely need to tune my drums. A whack or two with a mallet right before a class is all I do but I go through skins pretty quick, 6-8 months on one skin is a long time for me, hence my nickname "Break-it Bob"..
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By Carl
#19004
I usually offer to "re-pull" verticals on drums that I rehead for people. My logic is that I like a drum to be played for a bit (usually about a month) before the "final" pull.

Yes it's a pain, especially if my student has been chasing the tuning and there are a million diamonds to pull out, but overall I think it is worth it. it also gives me an opportunity to inspect my work as the drum is played-in.

As to humidity, I agree with above, the lower the drum is tuned, the more it is affected. I pretty much ignore humidity on drums that are at "soloist" levels, unless I am traveling, which makes for a much faster change in humidity.

C
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By Kabum
#25393
Hi guys,

I need to reopen this discussion and let me contextualize you first:

I currently moved to a place where humidity and damp are constant. This is basically due to the fact that it lies near the equator and you get average temperatures of 26 Celcius yearound, heavy rains in Winter and that constant "sticky" feeling in the air. By the way, the city is Recife in northeastern Brazil.
I was planning on investing some money on Djembes and Dununs and start giving classes. I am just afraid of the high maintainance needs. I have spoken with some local percussionists and they say that the only way to avoid skins from ripping within a couple of months (3 to 4), is to keep the under heat lights. The alternative is to use synthetic skins :(

Do you reckon that the lights are the best alternatives? Or high pitched drums would be enough? The dununs would probably suffer a bit more since the would have to be kept at a lower tune.

Thanks for your attention!
Happy drumming
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By michi
#25394
Permanent (or nearly permanent) air conditioning would work. (Yes, I know, that's a big ask.)

If you are looking to give classes, I would probably go with synthetic skins. Otherwise, you'll be spending most of your life endlessly reskinning your student drums.

I have no experience with heat lamps. It probably would help, but I imagine that the power bill would get prohibitive pretty quickly. (Also an issue with air conditioning, of course, but you might have a place where there is air conditioning already, so the drums could ride along for free…)

Cheers,

Michi.
#25395
I lived in West Africa over several rainy seasons where humidity was often 100%. I got a lot of practice reskinning that year!

At one point in The Gambia my skins were popping like popcorn (about one a week). Mind you, I was playing for about 4 hours every day then doing gigs in the evening and my drum was pulled to solo pitch (I had 3 drums that I used in a constant rotation).

Most of my skins broke overnight after a gig (except for one memorable one that exploded live on stage). This was mainly a result of the skin absorbing sweat over the bearing edge. In or near 100% humidity the sweat cannot evaporate so it just runs down your arms and onto the skin. Very bad news for djembes.

Heat lamps probably would work (they would dry the skins out in the same way as a fire). Although keeping them in an air-conditioned environment would protect them against normal humidity this would not dry them out if they have been sweated all over for a couple of hours. Putting them under a heat lamp for an hour or so after playing then keeping them in an air-conditioned environment might work.

Like I said though, the biggest factor is sweat so maybe the simplest solution would be free sweat bands for all your students!
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By the kid
#25396
I noticed when my drums pop there usually standing up with no air circulation.
So always leave your drums lying flat if you want them to last longer.

I've heard of people using these little 'dry bags' that you get in shoe boxes to keep the dampness from the skin. Make a hat for the drum and put some of these bags inside.

Kabum, why don't you just use cow skin. Surely cow holds up better in damp air.
#25399
Cowskin would be pretty hard on student hands, though!

I don't think you should worry about this issue. If you are dealing with student drums, you can just leave them at a lower tune. If the weather is more or less constant, I think the drums can be tuned to a pitch you like and will be fine. It is the big swings in temp or humidity that are the problem. As for the dununs, they are cowskin and are tuned low anyway, so I would just get them to the point where they don't sound 'floppy' and leave it at that.

Drums here in New England experience all kinds of extremes. Dry heat in the winter, cold in the back of my car, humidity in the summer. They do just fine.
#25404
Cowskin would be pretty hard on student hands, though!
The bearing edge of the djembe is harder though, which is where beginners often end up hitting! Seriously though bad technique will account for more pain than the type of skin.
#25408
Oh, I disagree. I have a cowskin djembe and a goatskin, and the cowskin is much harder on my hands than the goat. For me, that is not a problem... for new students it may be. In my case, I have even bruised a bone on my palm and I have been playing for awhile now and have good technique.
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By Dugafola
#25473
the kid wrote:I noticed when my drums pop there usually standing up with no air circulation.
So always leave your drums lying flat if you want them to last longer.

I've heard of people using these little 'dry bags' that you get in shoe boxes to keep the dampness from the skin. Make a hat for the drum and put some of these bags inside.
that's why i subscribe to leaving my drum bags cracked a few inches when i know they won't be played for a while....or if they had just been played hard and got a little moist.

:rasta: