How to Care For and Maintain Your Bodhrán
Changes in temperature and humidity may prove hazardous to your drum's health, not to mention its tone and pitch. In fact, storing a skin head drum in extreme heat for a prolonged period can even crack the skin or affect the shape of the frame, ruining the drum permanently.
Here are a few care tips to keep your bodhran in a consistent and peak condition. These tips can be useful for owners of any drum with an animal skin head.
Maintaining Constant Conditions
In the battle to keep your drum at a constant temperature, your first line of defense is a good bodhran case. However, just because your instrument is safely tucked in its case doesn't mean you can get careless with storage. At home, keep the cased drum in a closed, dark closet or cabinet to minimize temperature variations. On the road, wrap your drum case in a blanket or other material that will provide insulation (even your accumulated dirty laundry, if perfectly dry, can be put to good use for this purpose). When you go indoors, take your instrument with you, and NEVER leave it inside your car, or in the boot or trunk.
Here are some approaches to correcting specific problems with your drum:
- Head too tight—Tightness is caused by extended playing or by high
temperatures. If your drum head is too tight, the pitch will be higher than
normal or desirable.
Try moving the drum to a cool place and leave it there until the pitch
returns to normal. Applying a thin coat of beeswax can be helpful for this
- Head too loose—Coldness and prolonged disuse can loosen the skin. If your drum head is too loose, the pitch will be lower than normal or desirable. The drum may sound much deader than normal. Apply an electric heating pad, but avoid the high setting and remove it after 15 minutes. Should that fail to tighten the skin, soak a paper towel and rub the head all over, on the top and bottom sides. (To avoid possible warping, do not dampen the frame.) Fold the wet paper towel into a three-inch square, and leave overnight on the center of the drumhead. In the morning, check to verify that the edges of the head have dried, then discard the paper towel. Let the skin dry all day before playing it again. This procedure should tighten your drumhead.
Practice Makes Perfect
Periods of inactivity promote variances in your drum's condition, so play your bodhran regularly. You need the practice anyway, right? Diligent practice habits can improve your drumming chops and your instrument's condition at the same time!