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Toca Conga Maintenance

Posted by X8 DRUMS Monday, April 30, 2007 0 Comments
Properly maintaining your Toca congas will help keep them sounding and looking great for years to come. After reading this blog you should have a good understanding of how to maintain your Toca conga drums.

It is a good idea to slightly loosen your heads after playing. Going in a circular motion, give each tension nut a half turn clockwise to loosen. Do this, working your way completely around the drum twice. This simple procedure will help to lengthen the life of your heads. During the manufacturing process, (before skin heads are mounted to the drums) heads are soaked in water to make them pliable for mounting. Due to this process, some of the oils are depleted from the heads. To achieve the best possible sound, we recommend rubbing a small amount of hand lotion containing lanolin into your drumhead, once they have been tuned. This will make the skins sound better, increasing volume and tonality, because the skin can relax to vibrate better. Occasionally the tension rods will squeak when tightening or loosening. This occurs when the lubricant between the nuts and washers dries up. If this occurs apply some Toca Lug Lube. You can keep fingerprints off your shell with a chamois polish cloth.

When putting on a new bison conga head it is a good idea to turn the head upside down and fill the inside with 1/2" of cold water. Let soak for two to three hours. This will make the head more pliable and will make it seat on the bearing edge. Tighten the head until there is no valley on top and it is even all the way around. Let sit overnight and tune with method described above.

Toca Hardware Maintenance kits are available with any Toca Conga order at X8 Drums.

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Tuning Conga Drums

Posted by X8 DRUMS Tuesday, April 24, 2007 0 Comments
Conga tuning is a really up to the player. There is not a specific tone that any one drum should be tuned to, but there are some guidelines. When playing with harmonic instruments, they may be tuned to specific notes. Generally conga drums are tuned using the open tone. The open tone is played with the four fingers near the rim of the head, producing a clear resonant tone with a distinct pitch. The main thing to remember is that the drum must be in tune with itself. No matter what pitch you tune to, every tension lug point on the drumhead should be tuned to that same pitch. The pitch of the drum is up to you. You may want to tune high, you may want to tune low. Remember that every drum has a specific pitch that produces that best tone and most resonance. You may want to take some time to experiment and find that pitch. As for tuning multiple drums, again this is a personal choice.

The most common tuning would be to tune your conga (11 3/4") drum first (to whatever pitch you desire), and then tune the tumba (12 1/2") a fourth below it and/or the quinto (11") a fourth above it. A fourth is simply a term for a specific interval between pitches. An easy way to remember a fourth is the song "Here Comes the Bride." The two notes in the singing of that song constitute a fourth. If the conga is tuned to "Here_," then the quinto should be tuned to "comes the bride" (a fourth above). For tuning the tumba, the pitch of the conga would now become "comes the bride," and the tumba would be tuned to the pitch of "Here" (a fourth below). Again, tuning is very subjective and this is only one method. Also, be sure that you detune your congas after each playing. Natural heads are affected by temperature and weather, and can stretch out and lose tunability. Loosening the tension between playing sessions will prolong the life of the head.

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Difference Between Fiberglass and Wood Congas

Posted by X8 DRUMS Monday, April 16, 2007 0 Comments
So, you're in the market for a new set of congas, bongos, or some other world-percussion drum but not sure if you should go with fiberglass or wood. Well, you've stumbled onto the right site. Shopping for world percussion instruments can be bit overwhelming. There are such a wide variety of choices and features that sometimes you lose sight of what you want. Hopefully after reading this blog you'll have a better understanding of the distinct differences between fiberglass and wood congas so you can make a more informed decision.

One of the biggest differences between wood and fiberglass drums is that fiberglass tends to have a louder and crisper sound. Basically it's a bit more resonant; whereas the wood is warmer and more natural sounding. The louder and crisper sound can be good for cutting through the mix of an amplified band, however might not produce that warmth needed in a studio recording environment. Since the fiberglass is a little more resonant it's slightly easier to produce the tones, which can be a positive for those just starting out because of ease of play. I would argue to say that most professional players choose wood due to its warm and natural sounding tone. Plus wood congas are much more authentic and traditional. Fiberglass congas will be less affected by changes of weather and temperature although they tend to be heavier than wood drums. The wood responds more to atmospheric changes, but since they are tunable that may not matter too much.

If you're planning on gigging out a bunch and transporting your drums around town, keep in mind that wood tends to show scratches more easily, though both are very durable. A drum usually gets most of its scratches when traveling, so if it's mostly kept inside then you reduce the chance of damage.

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Latin Percussion Brands Explained

Posted by X8 DRUMS Thursday, April 12, 2007 0 Comments
What began forty years ago with a simple set of bongos, has evolved into the most complete collection of percussion instruments available today. The Latin Percussion collection of products is available in multiple brands, each with their own purpose to suit different types of players. To assist you with making the correct purchase we have provided the following breakdown with descriptions of the various LP brands.

1.) LP brand instruments are the finest available in the world. No one can match LP's reputation for quality through uniqueness in design with authenticity in sound. LP brand products are made for professional percussionists and drummers who demand the highest quality available.

2.) The LP Matador brand of percussion is designed for the intermediate percussionist or aspiring pro. It is the natural stepping-stone on the way from beginner to professional level playing. Matador features some very exciting styles of congas and bongos as well as other percussion items and hardware at competitive prices.

3.) The CP/ Aspire brand of drums and percussion is perfect for schools and beginners. It includes everything from congas and bongos to drum sets and hardware and offers quality products at affordable prices.

4.) World Beat - A collection of hard to find drums and percussion instruments from around the world. From congas, djembes and dumbeks to gongs, rainsticks and thumb pianos, theses instruments are for both the professional musician and the music enthusiast.

5.) LP Music Collection - A collection of authentically crafted percussion instruments that captivate musicians and music lovers of all ages. All instruments are presented in colorful, attractive packaging that includes product history and playing instructions, making them ideal gifts.

6.) The LP RhythMix brand features a full line of percussion toys that meet the exacting standards one would expect from the world leader of percussion, Latin Percussion. From kid-sized congas and bongos to hand percussion, LP RhythMix products are perfectly suited for introducing children to the exciting world of percussion.

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The Healing Power of the Drum: Book Review

Posted by X8 DRUMS Tuesday, April 10, 2007 0 Comments
New York psychotherapist and drum facilitator Robert Lawrence Friedman, writes in his 2000 soft-cover book, "The Healing Power of the Drum: A Psychotherapist Explores the Healing Power of Rhythm," how individuals through drumming can attain psychological, physiological and spiritual wellbeing. Clocking in at 208 pages, the book is both a personal account and an introductory guide to the subject in which he quotes many leading authorities on their experience drumming in different settings.

"The Healing Power of the Drum" is an easy to read and non-technical book that presents readers with ways they can achieve increased health benefits from the activity of drumming and shows innovative ways to enhance their own wellness. The author explores drumming and drums, such as the djembe and conga, from a multidimensional perspective, explaining the drum's ability to release anger, create joy, alter brain rhythms, induce trance, and create empowerment. The book includes cutting-edge research how Alzheimer patients have been able to stay focused for short periods with a drum in their hands. The book also discusses research into brainwave studies concluding how drumming has positively increased attention span.

Robert Friedman is currently president of Stress Solutions Inc., providing stress-management seminars to corporate clients and is also affiliated with the St. Barnabas Health Care System in New Jersey.

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Riq vs. Tambourine

Posted by X8 DRUMS Thursday, April 5, 2007 0 Comments
What are the differences between a Riq and a tambourine? They tend to resemble each other and seem to be played in a similar style, however there are subtle differences that make each one unique.

The riq (also spelled riqq or rik) is a type of tambourine used as a traditional instrument in Arabic music. It traditionally has a wooden frame (although in the modern era it may also be made of metal), jingles, and a thin, translucent head made of fish skin (or, more recently, a synthetic material). The frame of the riq can be covered on both the inner and outer sides with inlay such as mother-of-pearl, ivory or decorative wood, like apricot or lemon. It has ten pairs of small cymbals (about 4 cm in diameter), mounted in five pairs of slits. The skin of a fish is glued on and tightened over the frame, which is about 6 cm deep. In Egypt the riq is usually 20 cm wide; in Iraq it is slightly larger. The player of the riq plays without singing. The player alternates between striking the membrane and shaking the jingles, as the need for freedom of movement necessitates that they stand up. Students of the instrument are required to master the technical problems imposed by the timbre of the membrane and the jingles, both separately and in combination; aside from developing a virtuoso technique they also need to learn the many rhythmic cycles and the techniques of modifying them through creative invention.

The tambourine is a musical instrument of the percussion family consisting of a single drumhead mounted on a ring with pairs of small metal jingles. Most modern tambourines used in western popular music today consist only of the ring and jingles, with no drumhead. The tambourine can be held in the hand or mounted on a stand, and can be played in numerous ways, from stroking or shaking the jingles to striking it sharply with hand or stick or using the tambourine to strike the leg or hip. It is found in many forms of music, classic music, Roman music, Persian music, gospel music, pop music and rock music.

Remo Prizmatic
Remo Prizmatic Tambourine
Tambourine Tunable
10" Tunable Tambourine
Riq 8"
Glen Velez Riq
Glen Velez Riq

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How To Start A Drum Circle

Posted by X8 DRUMS Tuesday, April 3, 2007 0 Comments
Below are some quick but useful tips on starting a drum circle. Good luck!!

1. There is a lot of information already out there on the web about how to start a drum circle. Google it.

African Djembe2. Buy a drum - You'll need some sort of hand-drum or percussion instrument in order to start or join in a drum circle. A djembe is a good, reasonably inexpensive and practical choice as a beginner drum, and you may also consider investing in a few small but cheap alternate percussion instruments, such as egg shakers or claves.

2. Advertise - flyers in your local drum stores, used cd stores, used book stores, holistic groceries, massage schools, coffee shops - places where new-age types will hang out.

3. Be patient. It takes time to grow these things. Don't worry if you don't have a lot of people. Get started with just a few and meet once or twice per month. Grow it gradually.

4. Get help. Don't try to do it all on your own. Hold an interest meeting for the first session and get volunteers to help you spread the word and shoulder the responsibility of organizing, advertising, coordinating space, etc.

5. Network with all the other drummers in your area - spend time chatting up the guys working in the drum stores; they'll help you get the word out. Here is an excellent resource in finding and hooking up with other drummers in your area: Drum Circle Meetup.

6. Attend local events and festivals and play outdoors every chance you get. People will ask what you're doing, at which point you can give them more information. Never run out of flyers! I had Kinko's run me little quarter sheet tear off pads. I can leave them on counters in local handouts and easily tear off one to give to anyone interested.

7. Start a Myspace group or a Yahoo group so that you don't have to manage an email list on your own computer. Let it do the work for you.

Always remember to have fun and keep an open invitation to new drummers!

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