Why does ChangeHED look the way it looks? What are the maker’s intentions behind it? Couldn’t you have built it differently?
Of course, a skin holding system could’ve looked or even worked entirely different; and there are other skin holding systems for other drums, e.g. for drum kits. However, ChangeHED is the result of more than ten years of bodhrán making. Bodhráns are frame drums with the skin on one side, and the sound is modulated using the “skin hand”, while the player holds the outer frame. This clearly distinguishes the bodhrán from e.g. drum kits, where the drums can vibrate freely, and where the outer frame’s influence on the overall sound is much greater than it’s the case with bodhráns, where the tuning frame plays a far more important role. Drums for drum kits don’t have tuning frames as such. Instead, the skin is directly attached to the outer frame. In fact, the tuning frame as a sound-modifying element of the sound system turns the modern type of bodhrán into something truly special. The tuning frame is more than just the skin bearing edge – it’s an independent component, and its characteristics (material, stiffness, profile cross-section, bearing edge, surface properties) have a massive influence on the overall sound of the instrument.
The ChangeHED skin holding system is based on exactly this knowledge.
Why don’t you take the common drum kit skin system with aluminum frames as a basis?
Because I wanted to create a skin holding system specifically for bodhráns. Although synthetic skins are now also used for bodhráns, natural skins are still the most popular choice. I wanted to develop a system that can be used for both natural AND synthetic skins. Die drum skin form at the edge of the aluminium frame system is unsuitable for most natural skins, because natural skins need more tuning space and a larger supporting surface. My intention was to adjust the skin holding system to the bodhrán, and not the other way around :)
Why are the fixing screws (the small Allen screws) behind the tuning screws, and not between them, which would be handier for assembly?
Because the grip between skin frame and main frame must be the strongest where the tuning frame exerts the highest pressure to the skin. Apart from that, I wanted the ChangeHED to be as unobtrusive as possible.
Why didn’t you go for a system that doesn’t require tools?
After using twist / bayonet fastening for the SR Bodhrán, I deliberately opted for the Allen screw system. Not because it wouldn’t work, but because it doesn’t fit in with the overall ChangeHED concept.
ChangeHED and changeable skins are no MUST-HAVES; they’re nice to have. Every drum skin needs a certain amount of time to adjust to the rest of the drum. Depending on the type of skin, this can take several minutes, or even several days.
It is not the purpose of the skin holding system to change the skin as fast and as often as possible, but to provide a reliable, permanent, strong and unobtrusive connection of the skin frame.
Why is ChangeHED only available for 37cm / 15"?
37cm is the most universal size. Most skins and most tuning frames work with this diameter, and the size suits most players. The diameter is small enough to produce a well-defined sound, and it’s big enough to produce an acceptable volume.
Why does ChangeHED have 6 tuning screws?
Players naturally want as few tuning screws as possible to be able to tune the drum quickly. On the other hand, you need sufficient pressure points and a flexible tuning frame to be able to tune skins as precisely as possible, even skins where tuning is more complicated. With the ChangeHED diameter, six pressure points are ideal for most drum skins and most tuning frames.
Plastic instead of wood? For a high-quality instrument?
Sure, why not? The component at this position in the sound system has only a minor influence on the overall sound, it only transfers the structure-borne sound transmission from the tuning frame to the outer frame. I used to use metal components for this, but many of my colleagues have been using plastic blocks for many years. As regards the sound, there is no reason not to do so.
Even if many players are not aware of it, plastic has been used in bodhráns for a long time: heads of tuning screws, tape, ribbons, varnish, each individual glued joint – these are all synthetic materials.
For me, taking this step is the result of a long decision-making process.
The more you think about the requirements of this component, the more logical the demand for a plastic die-cast part becomes.
Highest precision and reproducibility whilst saving weight and providing good availability.
Some closing words from the maker?
Yes! :)As I said, ChangeHED is no universal remedy to meet every requirement. It’s not a must-have, it’s nice to have. The ChangeHED’s purpose is not to provide an option to change the drum skin several times per day. However, it’s a handy option in many ways.ChangeHED is a very valuable tool for players, makers and developers.
ChangeHED thrives on what we all make of it....and it’s fun! :)
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Dr. Rolf Wagels
An der Kapelle 10
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