Advice and questions on making and fixing instruments
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By alifaa
#23981
I have been trying to get skins to sound like my drum teacher's for 2 years now, and always put in 150% effort in cranking, gently bringing it up to pitch, super tight skins, etc, and not quite getting there.

Through a series of events (unexpected pop, new skin shipment from Drumskull, new regulations), I have the answer......LIMED SKINS!!!!

I have had natural skins always, and just put a skin on my new DSD Djalla djembe because the old one popped for no apparent reason after 6 weeks. 3 days drying, one round of cranking the verticals and it sounds way cleaner and brighter than the Wula drum that has had careful crankage for 6 weeks (gone around one whole row of diamonds and re-cranked the verticals twice now).

DAMMIT!!!!

That was the missing ingredient.........if only I had've known, I would be happily skinning way more drums due to recommendations from my teacher.

Lesson learnt.
By bkidd
#23983
Liming huh? That makes all the difference. Do a lot of people apply this step? I've never heard of it for djembe skins.

Cheers,
-Brian
By EvanP
#23984
Is liming the same as covering the skin with ash and drying in the sun? If so I've seen videos of that practice.
User avatar
By alifaa
#23985
Lime treatment is used to get the skins through Australian customs. I am not sure if it is done in Africa before they get to the US, as I have received 20 skins from Drumskull in the past that weren't.
It is only now that they are providing detailed documentation that they need to be lime treated, so all future skins will arrive like this.
User avatar
By e2c
#23986
I have never heard of it for djembe/dunun skins - or frame drum skins, or darbuka skins (goat, calf or fish).

alifaa, what do you mean by "limed"? (Just wanting to make sure I understand the process and what is done to the skins...)
User avatar
By alifaa
#23987
Excerpt from the customs letter:
"Flint dried goat skins removed of hair...cleaned with boiled water and lime and acid treated to kill all living organisms, remove hair and fat."

Don't ask me how they do it, DSD might be able to assist with that.
User avatar
By Tom
#23988
For as long as I can remember skins have been limed in and exported from Guinea. Players in Guinea do not use limed skins because of the side effects of liming. The liming process removes the natural oils from the skins, which decreases life span. Also, players here say they don't like to play limed skins because they are too hard on the hands (saying that it makes their hands hot). Personally I do not like limed skins because, although it does give a brighter sound, it takes away the texture of the sound.
User avatar
By michi
#23989
I agree with Tom. Limed skins tend to break sooner than ones that are just dried without any chemical treatment. Having said that, there is a lot of variability there. Overdoing the liming will weaken the skin. But, if the treatment is gentle enough, I don't think it does so much damage that I wouldn't use a limed skin.

A lot depends on exactly what chemicals are present in what concentration, the temperature, and how long the skin is exposed to the chemicals. If a skin comes out bright white, with not traces of pigment visible anymore, chances are that the treatment was fairly strong. That will make Australian quarantine officers happy, but not necessarily the player :)

I also agree with Tom on the brighter sound. You get nice crisp slaps, but the tones tend to come out a little anaemic. Still, I suspect that an African skin that has been limed will still tend to sound better than an Australian one that has been limed. (I've tried Australian limed skins quite a few times in the past, with mixed results; I have no experience with African limed skins at this point, only dried African ones.)

For a limed skin (whether Australian or African), I would recommend to go up a notch in thickness, to compensate for the brighter sound from the liming. This will also help somewhat with longevity.

Cheers,

Michi.
User avatar
By drtom
#24011
I'm glad you found the sound you've been looking for .

Just a word of caution. Limed skins contain residue. Remember what effect the lime had on the goatskins, so wear gloves to avoid contact with the wet skins.

drtom
User avatar
By michi
#24017
drtom wrote:Just a word of caution. Limed skins contain residue. Remember what effect the lime had on the goatskins, so wear gloves to avoid contact with the wet skins.
I would have thought that, by the time the skin has been in water for several hours, pretty much all the residue would be diluted into insignificance?

I guess it won't hurt to be careful, but I wouldn't be too concerned about this…

Cheers,

Michi.
User avatar
By Tom
#24019
I have not played on limed skins for any length of time, but Guinean players who have tell me that the limed skins can "tear your hands up". How much this is true probably depends on exactly how the skins were treated, which I am sure varies.
User avatar
By alifaa
#24054
michi wrote:Limed skins tend to break sooner...
Quick update - just popped, under the rings. bugger.

Will have to re-do with the purse string looser than I would with a natural skin, treat it with care and caution.

Crap. :p