Summer heat and fun can take a Djembe, Congas or Bongos on an adventure across the country, or just through the streets of a neighborhood. With the warmth and laid-back attitude that summer brings, drumming seems like a natural way to pass the time away. While you’re out there beating out a rhythm with friends, remember that your drum will only sound as good as the time and effort you put into its care.
Drums manufactured with an animal skin drum head are much more susceptible to the weather than those with synthetic drum heads. The porous nature of the skin absorbs moisture, or can require moisture in drier climates, in order to retain the flexibility needed to produce the right tone when played. If an animal skin drum head begins to crack, peel or break, a small application of olive oil can help to extend its life and playability. Because of the delicate needs of an animal skin drum head, extra precautions should be taken to protect it from direct sun and moisture, as well.
Most drums can be stored in cases and bags during transportation, or when not in use, to help prolong the life of the drum head, as well as the shell of the drum. These cases increase the protection of the drum itself, protecting the entire drum from cracking and splitting, offering a layer of protection that absorbs shock while also eliminating any issues that can occur due to weather or environmental factors. Investing in a good case or drum bag can easily add many more years of life to a drum.
Drums that require tuning, especially a rope-tuned drum like a Djembe, should be de-tuned prior to storage. Any drum with the ability to tune, either with rope or keys, should be tuned prior to playing it, assuring the drummer of the best sound possible, while increasing the life of the drum head and any hardware (including ropes) that is attached to the drum.
Finally, and perhaps the most important part of drum care, is to regularly play the drum. A drum relies on being played to keep it in top condition, especially when small problems can be detected and fixed early by the drummer entrusted to its care. Not all drums are created alike, but the same care and maintenance should be given, regardless of the type of drum, in order to extend its life and keep favorite rhythms beating strong.