Need advice on dry bodhran drum

Need advice on dry bodhran drum

Hello. I purchased a nice quality bodhran in Ireland in March, and brought it home with me to New Mexico, USA. I expected some tightening and drying, but it has tightened quite a bit and I’m concerned that because the drum was made in a highly humid location (60-90%) that it could end up damaged here (10% humidity). So far, it sounds very pingy and I can spray water on it to tune the sound. However, it still dries out quickly when I play it. I will store it with a humidifier to keep it at a higher humidity. What I’m wondering is, is there any type of oil I can apply to the goatskin to keep it loose, or should I only apply water? Should I consider having the drum disassembled and re-stretched for this climate? If so, who could do this type of repair?
Thank You,
Ellicat

Re: Need advice on dry bodhran drum

Apply anything sparingly. The more you play it, it will eventually settle into the original sound. "Bate the bejaysus out of it", why not at the BABS weekend.

Re: Need advice on dry bodhran drum

I have used neatsfoot oil sparingly. It is used to soften and waterproof leather. I know others that use Lexol, an oil for the leather interiors of cars. I had the same experience with my bodhran.

Re: Need advice on dry bodhran drum

Anything fire-resistant (sulphuric acid)

Re: Need advice on dry bodhran drum

I don’t mind ribbing, such as the obvious joke about relieving yourself at a session and a dry bodhran. However, it would be refreshing to have a few straight forward technical questions about bodhrans treated in the same way as the same type of questions for other instruments.

Re: Need advice on dry bodhran drum

You tell him C.C. Just a lack of respect, decorum and jealousy.

Re: Need advice on dry bodhran drum

Like CC says, neatsfoot oil or something similar like a leather-wax. Only put it on the outside of the skin - you don’t want to waterproof the inside so you can still damp it down when you need to. Good luck!

\())

Re: Need advice on dry bodhran drum

Good luck with the accumulated advice. My drum builder, in Philadelphia told me to keep it loose when not using it and he gave me a oil preparation he mixed himself with the instructions to place only a few drops of the oil on the "inside" of the drum, then to rub this in while warming (with the friction). A few drops then having spread entirely near the outer edge gave the skin a proper lubrication so that it is flexible and responsive. This instruction is for the tuneable bodhran which can be loosened when not in use. My experience with the non-tunable bodhran was that I sprayed it with water to soften it then used a hair dryer to tighten it to the point it sounded musical. The repeated use of this method took its toll and the drum lost its flexibility and eventuallly I had to replace the skin. Having said that, its not such a bad thing to get a new skin from a reputable builder. I can give you the source that I use if you email me, but the advice will be the same and there are plenty of good bodhran builders about. I might even venture there are more good bodhran builders about than there are good bodhran players.
WB

Re: Need advice on dry bodhran drum

All that wetting and heating does bugger up the skin, and I have it in my head that a tunable drum would do the same thing.

My drum is by Eamon Maguire. I’ve seen me in a damp house in Mayo with the skin completely loose and sagging. Put it in the hot press (airing cupboard) (where your hot tank is) for a few hours before you go out, and its perfect. The hair dryer does the job too quickly, the hot press does it nice and slow without ruining it.

Sounds all a bit erotic.

Re: Need advice on dry bodhran drum

Thanks to everyone who gave advice. I guess I should be glad I don’t live where it’s too soggy (although the hot press is intruiging). I very much wish I could get to Edinburgh for the BABS weekend, but will have to stay grounded here for a while (out of vacation time). Cheers,
Ellicat

Re: Need advice on dry bodhran drum

Ellicat… I can relate to your woes… Although I haven’t had as much trouble as I play (and stock) tunable bodhrans here in dry Colorado… I’m not sure if you mentioned if your drum was tunable or not. The problem with getting the drum restretched (really he would need to put a different skin on it) is that there’s no way for him to know exactly what tension to put it… best to have him make you a tunable… (that is if you’re isn’t…) Some tunables even have trouble… Most of the folks that I know that have alfonso drums out here have that trouble as well… My experience has been mostly with Eckermann, O’Connell, Hedwitschak, O’Kane and that fellow’s drums from the Netherlands… forget his name at the moment… They have all been good.

FWIW

Blayne

Re: Need advice on dry bodhran drum

My wife, Min Gates’, first drums were Mance Grady non-tunables, and in the ever-changing humidity of Indiana, she found that almond oil, applied annually, very lightly to the back of the heads, served very well to keep them supple against the changes in humidity. The almond oil does not prevent skin changes from climate change, just keeps them soft enough to be managed well. She still does this with all her drums, including her Norbert Eckermann tunable.

You can hear her Eckermann here:

www.cdbaby.com/culchies

I hope this is useful,

Re: Need advice on dry bodhran drum

Bliss: Your term "hot press" did throw me. My first mental picture was you ironing out your drum with your laundry. Back in the day, I had an electric blanket I used for wrapping my non tuneable. I got ribbed mercilessly about going to bed with my bodhran. I could never say that I loved my bodhran in public again, as it would re-stimulate the ribbing. I also used a hair dryer. Quite convenient, but I got mercilessly ribbed about that also (you got frizzy hair and beard today - have you been under the dryer to long).