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DIY Drum Head Replacement for Bongos, Congas and Djembe Drums

28th Oct 2014

Damage to drum heads is natural and unavoidable over time. Eventually due to traveling, storage, usage, or even extreme weather conditions the natural skin of your drum head can split, tear, or crack. This kind of damage makes drums impossible to play, and the best answer may be to simply replace the drum head. Luckily, instead of spending money on a new drum, there are ways that you can manage this delicate operation on your own. Replacing a damaged drum head can be done in just a few hours and is significantly cheaper than buying a new drum, and can even bring new life to your favorite go-to percussion instrument.

small cracks or splits on a natural drum head can be easy to repair with a touch of glue. Unfortunately you cannot repair an old, broken skin without creating uneven tension in the drum head. You will need to replace the entire skin of your drum head (for multiple drums, like bongos, it is recommended that you replace all the drum heads together, for sound consistency). The first step towards repairing your drum is to loosen all of the hardware around the head. Remove all of the lugs that hold the drum head in place. Then gently lift the drum head. Once the drum head is removed you remove the damaged skin by soaking it in water until it comes off easily. You also need to soak your new animal hide in water to prepare it for stretching.

Once your hide is soft and pliable it has soaked for a sufficient amount of time and you are ready to get to work. You can now center your new skin over the top of your drum. Carefully return the hoop of the head over the new skin. Be sure to keep the folds of the new hide evenly spaced and the tension of the head even as you replace the hoop. Then fold the skin up over the hoop and then replace the rim of your drum. Once this is done and your new hide is positioned correctly you may tighten the hardware of your drum, tightening the lugs evenly. The rim should be level with the top of your drum. You may now cut away any excess skin that is hanging from the rim of your drum. You need to allow the skin of your drum to dry for at least 24 hours before it will be ready to play.

By following these simple steps you can easily replace your own drum head. Doing this can prolong the life of your drum by many years. With a new skin your drum will sound like new and give new life to your music.