Frequently Asked Questions

Drum Shell

Q: Where do you get heads?

A:Mid-East Manufacturing has the best goat and calf skin heads I've found; their prices are good, and their service is excellent. I highly recommend them. I'm also told their doumbek heads are very good, but I don't work on doumbeks so I don't have any first-hand experience.

Q: Can you make a tupan out of my old bass drum shell?

A: Likely yes, but it depends on the condition of the shell and how easy it is to remove the all the metal hardware. Some of the cheap imported bass drums have the hardware riveted on, which means they need to be drilled out. If I have to do it, that gets expensive fast. Removing the hardware leaves a lot of holes that need to be plugged, which takes time. So providing the shell won't save as much money as you would think. On the other hand, I've put new heads on a couple cheap imported Pakistani tupans (one of which was bought for $5 at a music store scratch and dent sale because both heads were broken) and they became excellent drums. The shells were quite good though the heads were terrible. If you want to go this route, contact me and we can work out the details.

Q: Can you put a cymbal on my drum so I can play Brass Band music?

A: Probably. It will take a bit of engineering and depends on your drum and what you want. The shell needs to be strengthened so the cymbal stand doesn't tear out. The hardware also needs to be easily removed for transport. Contact me and we can discuss the particulars.

Q: How do I shorten a fiberglass / carbon tupan switch?

A: It's fairly easy but a bit fussy, and probably takes less time than reading this does.

Put a fine blade in your hacksaw (mine has 32 teeth per inch).

Mark where you want to cut off the butt of the stick and grab the body of the stick in a vise between pieces of wood (the metal jaws will leave chewed places on the stick).

Now comes the fussy part. Cut half way through the stick at the mark. Rotate the stick 1/3 (120 degrees) and cut half way though again, using the existing cut as a blade guide. Now rotate it 1/3 again and cut the waste off. The reason for this 3 step process is if you cut all the way through in one pass, the fibers on the outside at the end of the cut will peel away from the stick and leave a jagged mess. This is even a problem with an abrasive cutoff wheel, should you happen to have one.

Now round the fresh cut end with 220 then 320 and finally 400 grit Silicon Carbide paper, which will cut glass (As a side note, this combination is also good for taking a sharp edge off a chipped drinking glass. I've saved several wine glasses this way.) This sanding step is most necessary on fiberglass sticks, but wise on carbon filament sticks also.

Q: Where do you get the Gajda valves?

A: Scott's Highland Services in London, Ontario, Canada makes them. The small ones I use on Thracian Gajdas are called "Smallpipe Valves", and the large ones I use on Rhodope Gajdas are called "Little Macs".

Q: What font did you use for your Logo?

A: It's called Brashe and was created by my friend, Seattle type designer Karl Leuthold. It's an uncommonly good looking fully hinted True Type cursive font. It was a free download from HP's website for many years, but I don't find it there any more. Contact me if you'd like a copy.