How to care for your new Brazilian drum!

 Congratulations you just invested in a new drum! A new buddy in your future samba adventures!!! With a little bit of care and love this drum will be with you a very long time!


I’ve outlined a few tips that will help get you started:

Wax the rods and nuts

I hate the feeling of tuning my drum and the nut feels too stiff and hard to turn. It feels like I’m grinding metal off the bolt and messing everything up. There is a solution to this!

Use a little bit of beeswax or machine oil on the rods and nuts this will lube them up allowing them to turn nice and smooth. It also prevents wear and tear on the rods and nuts. 

The beeswax is less messy. The machine oil can drip, run down the rods and get all over everything and then eventually end up on your clothes/carpet/car seats/pets/parents/food/children/houseplants. You can buy beeswax at most hardware stores or Amazon.

How to do it: 

Just take the piece and rub it on the threads of the rods. Then turn the nut up and down the rod until it turns smoothly. Reapply every once in a while.

I have always used machine oil until Jimmy Biala from Bloco Do Sol in San Jose told me that this year when he was playing with Beija Flor Samba School that they use wax on the drums. GENIUS! 

Tune and de-tune

Temperature causes materials to expand and contract differently.

A drum is generally made up of several different metal alloys with plastic heads and silicone seals but especially skin heads with wooden rims!!!. All of these materials expand and contract at different rates as temperature fluctuates.

The metal bits expand and contract less than the heads. The goat skin heads with wooden rims will expand and contract a LOT. The plastic heads will expand and contract but to a much lesser degree.

All of this expanding and contracting at different rates causes a lot of stress on the drum heads.

The heat will tighten the heads, the cold will loosen the heads.

Don’t leave you drum in a hot car in the summer, or cold car in the winter without de-tuning it.

Tune your drum before practice and rehearsal. But don’t forget to de-tune when you’re done. This will keep your drum head lasting a really long time! You don’t have to loosen the head so much that it’s super floppy. Just release some of the tension.

I was once at a West African drum and dance camp in the Sierra Nevada mountains. A friend of mine had 3 djembes (with wood bodies and skin heads) in the back of his truck. He had tightened everything down nice and tight for the camp because he was playing a lot. As he was driving down the mountain (70° F) into the central valley of California (104° F) every head popped! 

Pro Tip!!

Make a habit of setting your drum down one it’s side rather than with the head up. 

Some drums, especially surdos, have ridiculously long rods on them that stick way out past the heads. And these drums usually don’t have those little black bumpers on the ends either. They also always seem to be owned by people who are mostly oblivious to their movements around others in time and space. They will accidentally pierce other drum heads because they’re not paying attention.

This has happened to me... twice.

When you set your drum down, if you lay it on its side you can reduce the chance of other people who are walking around the rehearsal space from accidentally piercing your drums head with the bolts on their drum, or dropping something on it etc.

At home you also prevent your roommates and visitors from treating your drums like a table and setting hot coffee cups on them.

To conclude

You’re excited about your new drum. Your new buddy in all your samba adventures to come! If you take some time and take care of it, it will last you a really long time!

Anyone have other tips for us? Please share!

Happy drumming everyone! Viva Samba!!!

Courtney Danley

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