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Bodhran skin
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Author:  WyoBadger [ Tue Jan 12, 2016 6:50 pm ]
Post subject:  Bodhran skin

Hi, everybody. Can't remember the last time I was on the ol' chiffboard--how's everybody? Not sure if this is the correct forum for this, but seems about as close as I can get.

I have a tunable bodhran by the Late, Great Fred Halpin, in need of a new skin. The skin on this drum is tanned, definitely not rawhide...but not exactly like a conventionally tanned skin, either. Since Fred is no longer with us, and his company is defunct, I am at a loss as to what sort of skin to use.

I ordered a nice rawhide goat skin, and it would do the job, but of course it's quite hard, and it won't have the same wonderful sound as the Halpin head. I am pondering buying a veg tanned goatskin and trying that, but I wonder if a conventionally tanned skin would be too stretchy to tighten properly.

What say you, oh venerable Chiffboard Oracle?


Author:  s1m0n [ Tue Jan 12, 2016 7:32 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Bodhran skin

Rawhide goatskin should be the stuff for a traditional bodhran. You'll soak it before you stretch it, which will alter the stiffness enough to get it installed. I dunno how your frame's tunability affects things. I know that at least some early tunable drum makers were using tanned white goatskin intended for gardening gloves. It was softer but it always struck me that this was at the expense of the singing tone that is the glory of the bodhran.

If you've already bought the rawhide skin, you could try softening it with leather dressing or neatsfoot oil or summat. You'd have to do this after soaking & stretching it, of course. Once you start playing it, the oil from your hands should keep it in fine fettle.

Author:  WyoBadger [ Tue Jan 12, 2016 7:50 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Bodhran skin

Thanks, Simon. It's the tunability, I think, that makes it different. It really does have a wonderful tone, or did before the skin started to tear loose.

What you described sounds right--it's a white goatskin. It seems a bit harder than glove leather, but of course it's stretched, and I've never oiled it (Fred recommended not doing so, if I remember correctly) so I'm sure it's a bit dried out.

I'm fairly comfortable with the soaking/stretching/mounting process, having done a few hand drums with deer rawhide. I read elsewhere the suggestion of treating the hide with neetsfoot oil when it's almost dried. Might try that.

But if it is indeed a tanned skin, I might try that, instead. A tunable drum isn't all that "trad," I suppose, but it's what I know, and I want to restore it as near as may be to its former glory.

Author:  s1m0n [ Tue Jan 12, 2016 10:41 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Bodhran skin

I saw a presentation by an early tunable maker at a Montreal Comhaltas Ceoltiori (I think) conference back in the early or mid nineties. I don't recall his name, but a first name of Fred sounds very plausible. If it was, my info about the glove leather is from the horse's mouth. He discussed his leather options at some length, and explained how he'd settled on the glove leather as the most suitable, although I don't recall why. His leather looked like this (the whiter examples. The buff leather isn't goat). If I recall correctly, his frame design incorporated an allen key arrangement for tuning, and I suppose some sort of internal worm gear. Is that similar to yours?

Author:  BigDavy [ Wed Jan 13, 2016 4:58 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Bodhran skin

Hi WyoBadger

Have you tried re tacking the skin, or is the tear too big for that to be feasible.

I have a drum by John Jackson, with a partially cured goatskin head. It is quite hard and is the only drum I have that gets any treatment (unscented hand cream). It plays reasonably, especially in the bass, good for singing to, not so good for fast jigs and reels.

Before buying a new skin, you might be better talking to Rob Forkner, RobBBQ on the board, and see if he can supply you with the type of skin to match what you have. Metloef Drums

s1m0n's suggestion that the head might be glove material may be correct, it also could be vellum, which makes good drum heads as well.

If you are on Facebook, join the bodojo group, and ask your question there.


Author:  WyoBadger [ Wed Jan 13, 2016 6:28 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Bodhran skin


Author:  shalomjj [ Fri Feb 05, 2016 2:28 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Bodhran skin

I would have a pro do it for me!

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