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How to repair a bass drum
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piotr
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#1
22nd May 2008
Old 22nd May 2008
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How to repair a bass drum

Hello,

I got this great big drum, which appears to be an old marching band bass drum. It looks as though the skins are made of some animal hide, but as you can see in the pictures, there is a pretty substantial tear in one of them:




Does anyone have any suggestions/advice on how to repair it? Is there some special material and/or adhesive I could use to heal the tear?

As always, and help will be much appreciated.

Sincerely,

p.
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#2
23rd May 2008
Old 23rd May 2008
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HeavyG is offline
Calfskin Heads

My recommendation would be to get a new head. Since the head is leather, you could potentially have an artisan "repair" it...but it would cost as much or much than a new head. If it is for collecting purposes...you might want to keep the original. If it is for recording...get new heads or use moleskin or some type of repair method and use the repaired head as the resonant side (but it looks like a marching bass drum which is typically struck on both sides).

Nice looking drum!

Cheers
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piotr
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23rd May 2008
Old 23rd May 2008
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Hi ,

Thank you for your response. I got the drum for both: the esthetic AND pragmatic reasons. I do think it's a beautiful object, but I also want to record with it.

So my first line of thinking was that perhaps i can repair what is there. If anyone could recommend any specific product or method, I'd appreciate that.

But if that is not possible, I should look into getting a new head. I looked around the web for a bit and found for example this: Simulated Fiberskyn FA Bass Drumhead. Do you think this might work? My drum is old, and is stretched with what looks like ordinary rope. I am not sure how easy/feasible it is to fit a new head on an old piece like this. Also, I measured the drum, and it looks to be approximately 27 inches in diameter, and this new head is 28... I actually didn't see any 27in. drumheads out there so, am not sure if that will work either.

In any case, thank you for your thoughts.
Sincerely,
p.
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23rd May 2008
Old 23rd May 2008
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You can patch it with another piece of hide and hide glue (fancy that!) from the back. prep it with rubbing alcohol where you are patching.

But you'll have a thicker patch. Will be fine if you play around it. Maybe even will give variations in tone based on where you apply the beating.

New head is easier. Probably scraped goat hide. Find someone who makes bodhrans or native frame drums and get them to kill a goat and prep you a skin.
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23rd May 2008
Old 23rd May 2008
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Fiberskyns are pretty good. Better in that they don't change pitch from humidity changes. I used to use them on my snare. They are sort of half way between a regular drum head and a real gut head, though no two gut heads sound the same.
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23rd May 2008
Old 23rd May 2008
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Hello!

Travis, thank you for all your suggestions and comments! Hide glue, who would have thunk! I am going to look for that and see what I can accomplish this way, and perhaps then get a Fiberskyns head as a replacement.

Sincerely,
p.
#7
23rd May 2008
Old 23rd May 2008
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Be aware that a hide-glue patch job won't sound the same as the unpatched (unbroken head) and will not be as strong either. Ie it is more of a cosmetic fix. As others have said, a new skin is probably the best route if you want to restore the drum to full useability.
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23rd May 2008
Old 23rd May 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DarkSky View Post
Be aware that a hide-glue patch job won't sound the same as the unpatched (unbroken head) and will not be as strong either. Ie it is more of a cosmetic fix. As others have said, a new skin is probably the best route if you want to restore the drum to full useability.
Won't sound the same, but that doesn't mean it won't sound as good -- just different. Skins are never uniform thickness anyways. A thin patch wouldn't change it dramatically.

It's not a high tension application, so if he can't find a replacement and wants to keep the skin, it could be permanent fix. Hide glue has one excellent property in that it doesn't creep, and repairs/screwups are reversible. It doesn't perform well under heat and moisture, though.

You can also use Aleene's Leather Glue.

I have patched my bodhrans which are much higher tension. It lasts until I get around to skinning another goat.
#9
23rd May 2008
Old 23rd May 2008
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HeavyG is offline
The Fiberskin will lose a little of the vintage "mojo"....I would get another calfskin. I think repairing the head will impact the tone (kind of like putting a moleskin impact pad on on a kick drum would)...so I would get a new head for recording and keep the repaired head for collectible reasons. The tear is large or I would say that someone could stretch it and retuck it...
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