Published on April 5, 2014 by Amy
Rawhide Indian drums are very durable and can be played for extended periods of time. The only concern for Indian hand drums made of rawhide it that they not get wet. Native rawhide drums actually use stretched skin and do well in conditions that our own skin likes. This is true for any shaman drum, hoop drum or frame drum as they are called that is made with untanned rawhide. Some modern hand drums made with non-natural materials have different properties.
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Store the drum in a cool, dry place. If exposed to high humidity, hoop drums may temporarily lose their tone, becoming loose. The tone can be restored by heating the instrument slowly in front of a fire, by using a hair dryer on hot. Be careful not to over heat a drum, but they can stand slightly higher heat than the human hand can tolerate.
Heat is the enemy of rawhide Indian drums. Do not make the mistake of leaving a natural stretched animal skin drum closed in a car or in a window with direct sun. Heat and dryness may split the head. If you transport a drum through a dry climate you can keep it in a plastic bag with a slightly damp piece of paper towel enclosed. In a humid climate you can preserve the tone of a drum by sealing it in a plastic bag. After shipping, transporting or rain storms the heating or drying/tightening process will probably need to be repeated. Most drummers will dry their drum before their drumming group meets for best sound quality.
Many people love to see their drums when not drumming and use them as décor. Hanging on a wall or shelf is fine. But remember to avoid heat sources like a radiator or heating vent or where there is direct sun or high temperature. It is best never to store a rawhide Indian drum in plastic because it needs to breath.
Native American drums can be cleaned by wiping with a damp cloth. Remember not to over dampen the rawhide unless you have time for it to slowly air dry to re tighten. Occasional oiling with neatsfoot oil especially on the points where the lacing joins the drum head is helpful. The oil should be rubbed into the hide using very little oil rather than saturating the hide. If you have painted drums avoid rubbing the actual decoration. With a little care, you will enjoy and get the most from your Indian drums.