Most drummers are protective of their instruments, providing cases, bags and delicate handling while traveling or while the drum is in storage. But, no matter how gently a Djembe, Bongos or other hand drums are handled, the harsh reality is that no drum is indestructible. Because of the delicate nature of drums, from the shells to the drum heads and the hardware that keep the drums together, most hand drum repairs are best left to the experts. However, if damage has occurred, there are some steps that can be taken by even the newest drummers to repair a hand drum.
If the natural wood shell of a Djembe, Congas, Bongos or Cajon is slightly cracked, it is possible to fix with a small amount of effort and a lot of gentle care. Larger cracks in the drum shell may be filled with wood putty, and left to dry before sanding the excess away. In the same manner, smaller cracks in a hand drum can be fixed through the careful application of wood glue. If a drum shell has been cracked hard enough to splinter, then it is recommended the drum is given to a drum repair professional to be restored to its former beauty. Keep in mind that while most small cracks on a drum’s shell will not affect the sound quality of a drum, the larger damage can change its overall tone and pitch, even when repaired professionally.
The natural animal skins used on hand drums have the potential to crack, split or be otherwise broken through normal wear and tear. Many drummers have found it easy to repair small cracks and splits in the drum heads by applying small amounts of glue to the surface of the drum head, and letting it dry. For larger splits, it is possible to patch the drum head with smaller pieces of matching animal skin and glue, but the sound of the drum will likely suffer. In that case, consult a professional drum repair technician to see if a full replacement of the drum head is a better option.
For best results and longer life, a hand drum should be evaluated by a professional before attempting any sort of home repairs to its shell or to the natural animal skin drum head. While it may not be possible to protect a Djembe or other hand drum from the rigors of playing, storage and travel that can cause breaks, cracks and splinters on a drum, taking the necessary steps to repair the hand drum can keep its visual appeal and sound quality intact. A healthy drum makes all the difference in the sound and enjoyment of a gig, drum circle or recording. By taking the proper steps to care for a hand drum, it is possible to enjoy a long and fulfilling partnership based solely on the love of rhythm.