Old School Tools: How To Tuck Calfskin Heads

It wasn’t always so easy. Before the invention of Mylar drumheads, drummers had to keep special tools beside their drum keys and wrenches, and possess delicate skills that ventured beyond paradiddles and flams and into the world of woodcraft. Instead of taking a minute or two to replace a broken head, it would take hours of work to prepare a single head made of calfskin. So why in the world would anybody want to play on calfskin heads when synthetic ones are so user-friendly? Easy — because it is the most reliable way to attain an authentic vintage drum sound, if that’s what your music demands. Today a handful of tanneries provide calfskin heads that are already mounted on a flesh hoop. But those diehards who insist on doing it on their own should set aside a day to follow the proceeding step-by-step instructions for tucking a drumhead. Before getting started you need to prepare the raw material, which is delivered as a stiff disc. Soak the head in tepid water until it is completely pliable — which can vary in time depending on the head, and can take as much as a day — and then turn the page.

Step 1. Lay the drumhead flat (a Formica table works well) with the playing side facing down. Use a squeegee to remove excess water.

Fig.1

Step 2. Center the flesh hoop on the drumhead.

Fig. 2

Step 3. Fold the edge nearest to you over the hoop.

Fig. 3

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