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Djembe Drums

Drumhead Replacement - A 'How To' Guide

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Below is a step-by-step guide in replacing drumheads. After reading the information, you will be able to replace drumheads on frame (ex: tambourine, african djembe) and ceramic drums.

1. You will need: masking tape, yellow wood glue, a straight edge (i.e. yardstick, etc), a utility knife and a clamp, along with your drum and the replacement goatskin head. An extended hose clamp works well. A strap and ratchet system may work. Remember that your clamp must provide even pressure around the drum.

2. Estimate the size of skin you will need by fitting your drum with a sheet of newspaper. It should cover the head of the drum, the area to be glued, and have enough excess to maneuver and clamp it. If the skin is too small you will have to start over with a larger skin.

3. Soak your goatskin in water for approximately 15 minutes. The skin should be pliable when you begin to re-head your drum.

4. Affix the masking tape to the upper part of the drum. Align it approximately one inch below the top of the drum. The tape is used to keep the glue from running down the side of the drum and gives a sharp edge to your replaced head.

5. If the old skin is still in place, use the skin edge as a guide to affix the masking tape. Remove any decorative trim. Place the tape on the drum adjacent to the skin edge. Peel off the old skin and dried glue. You do not need to clean the drum completely. Do not use cleaners or handle the lip surface, as this will leave residues.

6. To affix the masking tape without the old skin as a guide, place your straight edge across the top of the drum. Measure down, about one inch, from the yardstick to the drum's upper edge. If you need to, make a pencil mark on the drum. Do this around the entire drum. Affix the upper edge of the tape along this mark.

7. Apply the glue to the drum surface when your new skin is almost ready. Cover the drum surface from the top inside opening to the upper edge of the tape. Apply the yellow wood glue liberally. Let the glue slightly overlap the tape edge for a even fit.

8. Remove the goatskin from the water and blot it dry.

Drape the skin over the drum and center it. Do not squeeze out the glue. Smooth out the wrinkles.

9. Secure your clamp on top of the masking tape. Do not fully tighten the clamp. The skin should be sandwiched between the tape and clamp. You do not want the clamp to be above the tape edge. It will squeeze out the glue and leave indent marks in the new head.

10. Pull the skin edges to tighten the skin over the drum. Alternately tighten the clamp and pull the skin. For Ceramic Drums the goatskin should be pulled as tight as possible. If you are replacing a Fishskin head, pull it snuggly, but not as tight as possible or it could rip. IMPORTANT: for Frame Drums, the skin should have a slight droop of no more than 1/16 of an inch below level. The skin shrinks as it dries and will naturally tighten.

11. Allow the skin to dry 24 - 48 hours.

12. Trim the excess skin. Carefully, with a utility knife, cut along the upper edge of the tape. If you placed the clamp on evenly and it is level you may be able to use the clamp as a cutting guide. You should be able to feel the edge of the masking tape under the skin.

13. Remove tape. Wipe off your drum. If you wish, you can finish off the raw edge of the skin with colored electrical tape or fabric trim.

14. Enjoy your new drumhead!

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