I’ve used three different kinds of heads with success so far: rawhide, on Tubes and Paired; goatskin on Squat and snarl; and heavyweight black leather on Blowdrum, Big Drum, and Thump.

With so much metal in the sound anyway, I wanted to avoid getting too much conga / djembe / dumbek ringing. I tried old leather jackets to begin with and I liked the dullness of the sound, but they didn’t last very long (one performance). The heavy leather (the grade used for toolbelt nail pouches and chaps) on thump and blowdrum has stood up very well. The rawhide is hard to work and sounds very bright. The hair-on goatskin is sharp and ringless.

Hand bending the rings makes it hard to be as precise as I might like, so I use two rings below each rim instead of one. This makes mounting the heads a little more grief intensive, particularly with thick rawhide, but it works –they hold tune and stay even.

If I were going to make a lot of drums I’d want an industrial strength ring-roller. I'm hoping some chinese company'll make a knock off of one and sell it through harbor freight for $89.99.



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