I have both natural and synthetic skinned hand drums. My doumbek, Cooperman tamborine, Cooperman tar and Cooperman bendir have synthetic heads. They are stable when the humidity and temperature change. But they don’t have the feel of animal skin.
I have a couple of Drumskull djembes with really nice goat skin. My 3 Drumskull congas and one bugarabu have cow skin. All of these Drumskull drums are a real pleasure to play. My tars are from Pakistan and India have goat skin and are stable here in Abu Dhabi. However, my 2 bendirs and 2 tars from Marrakesh really become pliable and almost unusable with higher levels of humidity. My Indian kanjira is from the monitor lizard. This is a second hand and old drum that is beautiful but made from the endangered monitor lizard. My Egyptian muzzar is also from goat and is stable. My Greek ceramic drum was spun on a potter’s wheel and is headed with goat and is stable. I have a talking drum headed in goat and a small drum from Kuwait also with goat. I have some Matt Smith bongos on the way and they too will be headed with animal hide.
Hey BigBeat, I don’t think you need to detune synthetic conga heads — I know it’s unnecessary on the drum kit and I don’t see any reason why a conga would be different. But I’m going to take this question to a higher power. Hang on and I’ll get back to you with the definitive answer.
I use only natural animal hides from Africa (goat, cow) on my djembes. I would almost never even consider using a synthetic hide. The natural unevenness of the skin produces an unmistakable sound that cannot be replicated by a synthetic product AFAIK. They can also withstand a great deal more pressure than a synthetic head. It’s a bit like the drums themselves - synthetic djembes (or even wooden drums turned on a lathe) simply do not have the sonic character of a hand-carved drum.
Just my .02, of course.
PS. I would add that, if there were in fact a synthetic head that could faithfully reproduce the beautiful timbre of a natural skin, I’d be all over it. I’m all about cutting down my environmental impact wherever possible.
Greeting. I teach and play African Music, (beside using the Djembe for Samba and Afro Cuban Ensembles). The main issue with the Synthethic skin would be the humidity, (on raining the days, late at night and when you are close to the water). Because that would affect the tuning. Gerry Zaragemca
Greeting. I teach and play African Music, (beside using the Djembe for Samba and Afro Cuban Ensembles). The main issue with the Synthetic skin would be the humidity, (on raining the days, late at night and when you are close to the water). Because that would affect the tuning. Gerry Zaragemca