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Synthetic Or Animal Hide?

Posted: September 30, 2010 02:45 AM

Andy Doerschuk_1

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Which type of head do you prefer for hand drumming, and why?

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Andy Doerschuk
Editorial director, drummagazine.com

     
Posted: September 30, 2010 07:50 AM

Skulmoski

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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.

So for me, I really like drumming on animal hide.

GJS

Posted: October 01, 2010 11:52 AM

Rev.D.

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I have played both and don’t really have a preference.

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A good drummer will sound good on anything. A Bad drummer will sound bad on anything.

Posted: October 01, 2010 08:16 PM

guarilio989

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I like the goat skin head on my djembe. It kinda keeps with that earthy original sort of nostalgia of the drum.

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Hit Hard, Play Fast, Have Fun

Posted: September 02, 2011 08:32 AM

djembefola

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For me it’s Animal all the way, based purely of the fact that I’ve never heard a synthetic skin sound as good as an animal skin.

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Reaching out to other drummers from the djembe community universe.

Posted: September 02, 2011 10:58 PM

Skulmoski

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Skulmoski - 30 September 2010 07:50 AM

I have some Matt Smith bongos on the way and they too will be headed with animal hide.

GJS

Got the Matt Smith 6 months ago and they are stable too. Lovely drums.

GJS

Posted: September 06, 2011 05:36 AM

bigbeat

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My congas need new heads & I’m considering Synthetics.  Do you still need to detune them when you’re not playing like aminal hides?

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loud is my forte

Posted: September 06, 2011 06:55 AM

Skulmoski

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Detune all congas if you are not using them for a while; it usually prolongs the life of the drum head.

Also, reconsider your choice of heads; many consider animal heads to be superior in feel and sound.

GJS

Posted: September 06, 2011 07:27 AM

Andy Doerschuk

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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.

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Andy Doerschuk
Editorial director, drummagazine.com

Posted: September 08, 2011 01:38 PM

Andy Doerschuk

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Sorry that it took a couple of days, but I just heard back from Chalo Eduardo, world percussion product manager at Remo. Here’s what he had to say:

The short answer is no, you do not have to detune heads. For most recreational players no detuning is necessary.

However, if you are a pro and tour three to five months out of the year,  you may want to detune drums slightly, which increases longevity.

Check out with Luis Conte says about Remo’s synthetic conga and bongo drumheads.

http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL7E90B6F941080920 
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Andy Doerschuk
Editorial director, drummagazine.com

Posted: September 09, 2011 05:37 AM

bigbeat

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Thanks Andy

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loud is my forte

Posted: March 06, 2012 12:11 AM

tasumakan

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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.

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Paddy Cassidy
Tasumakan - djembe and dunun learning system

Posted: March 28, 2012 07:05 AM

Zaragemca

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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

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Posted: March 28, 2012 07:06 AM

Zaragemca

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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

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International Club of Percussionists

Posted: March 28, 2012 09:30 AM

bigbeat

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I would think the humidity, and weather in general would affect the tuning on natural heads more that fakes.

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loud is my forte

Posted: March 31, 2012 08:33 AM

Zaragemca

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thanks, that’s exactly what I mean. Gerry Zaragemca

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