Repair Kit

Occasionally, often for no obvious reason, small holes appear in one of the tupan heads. DON'T PANIC, but also stop playing and loosen the heads immediately. Holes concentrate stress and the longer they are tight the more likely a big tear is. Small holes can be successfully fixed using goat skin patches and Barge (accept no substitutes) cement. Barge is a leather-specific contact cement (you've smelled it if you've ever been in a shoe repair shop). You can get it at shoe repair and leather places. Most hardware stores also have it. But where to get goat skin patches? From someone that has put on lots of goat skin heads and has plenty of scraps, me. I sell them for the price of shipping, since I've got way more than I'll ever need. This image shows the Barge tube (note the bear logo and the subtle red and yellow packaging), a strip of goat skin drum head, and a ready-to-use patch.

Recently, due to California solvent rules, the small tubes have been reformulated with a less effective solvent and packaged in a blue tube. It is much more difficult to get this formula to stick but it is possible. After putting the glued faces together I pound the patch hard multiple times with a smooth faced hammer.

The basic patch rule is "hair side to hair side, flesh side to flesh side" which probably seems pretty obscure unless you think about what a drum head is. It's a goat skin which had fur on one side and meat on the other. Usually heads are made with the fur side out, because it's tougher (it evolved that way to protect the goat, after all). But you should check, because I've seen the flesh side out on occasion. The surfaces are quite different and you want to put like surfaces together to get the best bond. If you run your finger over the head, the flesh side will feel smoother and the hair side rougher. Often you can still see an occasional hair sticking out of the hair side, and the hair follicles are usually pretty obvious.

The patch has to go on the inside, so you have to take the heads off. No drum in the world is truly round, so mark on both heads how they line up with some reference on the drum. Make sure that the marks are unique so you can't put the heads back on the wrong face (don't ask me how I know this). You don't have to remove all the ropes, though. Just enough that you can slide the heads off the shell. Sometimes the heads resist. They were put on the shell wet, and they shrink fit on. Firmly tapping around the lower edge of the head with a leather mallet will help.

Cut an elliptical patch, large enough to cover the hole and leave ½" or so around all sides. Hold it up to the inside of the head and lightly mark around it in pencil. Sand both surfaces that will mate lightly with 220 grit sand paper. Dust off, follow the application directions on the Barge cement tube and mate the patch and the head together. Get it right the first time, because once those surfaces touch they're permanently bonded. Burnish the patch down with a thumb nail or a smooth object, making sure that all areas get thoroughly worked. Let it sit a day and you can put the head back on.

Of course, I can do it if you prefer. Contact me and we can discuss.

Larger Repairs

Anything larger than patching a head hole gets pretty esoteric. You probably should contact me and I can either talk you through the problem or quote you a price. I've had to repair a few ill conceived repairs, which can get very expensive. Better to ask first, since I don't charge for advice.