In short, the life of a drumhead can be divided into three stages:
The drum skin stretches out, adapts to the shape of the frame, absorbs hand sweat, and is mechanically processed by tippers. A drumhead is said to be "broken in" when it’s achieved a full sound and good tuning stability. Depending on the drumhead, this can be between two weeks and two years. The regular break-in time for most drumheads is one to three months. Not only the actual playing time, but also rest periods and exposure to hand sweat are part of the break-in process. Therefore, a drumhead can only be broken in by its player.
During this time, the drum skin has developed its full potential, and any further tonal changes happen slowly and moderately. The duration of this stage of the skin’s life is largely influenced by the player and can be many years, even decades. However, it is possible to completely ruin a drumhead within a very short time, for example, by using damaged tippers and a wrong playing technique.
Especially if the drumhead is played in the same spot all the time, it can become very compressed, and then no longer resonates cleanly. In this case, a "skin reset" can be carried out several times in the course of the drumhead's life. By treating the drumhead with water, the skin structure loosens up again and the drumhead sounds as it should.
Basically, the main enemy of the drumhead is friction. Every measure that reduces friction prolongs the life of the drumhead. Just remember that every improvement in playing style is multiplied a million times for every single beat. Therefore, the playing time of a drumhead varies considerably from player to player.
Possibilities for the player to extend the playing time
- A shallow playing angle of the tipper prevents scratching on the drumhead and reduces concentrated friction at the contact point. With a steep playing angle, there is a risk of the tipper/hot rod sticks "stabbing" into the skin. This inevitably leads to scratches and hairline cracks, and roughens the surface like sandpaper.
- Minimal force from the tipper hand and the skin hand. The drum must be able to swing, to work. Unnecessary damping only consumes energy and creates more pressure and friction.
- If possible, constantly turn the drum a little while playing. This distributes the hand sweat and the mechanical impact caused by the tipper more evenly and thus leads to more even playing and greater tuning stability.
- Tipper selection. See below!.
The drumhead finally loses its inner tension and "vitality". Mechanical stress can cause the head to become rough, cracked and brittle, and to develop cracks or friction holes. Now the "second life" of the animal skin is over, and it can be returned to the natural cycle. Even synthetic skins will eventually be "played out" and only sound dull and flat. Now a new drumhead is needed and the cycle starts all over again.
Caution with loose clothing, scarves, and long hair! The rods can get caught and break off.
Damaged hot rods are a great danger to the drumhead and must be repaired or replaced without question!
Brush tippers have animal hair, or plant or plastic fibers at the beating ends. These can do almost no damage to the drumhead, but a shallow playing angle increases the lifespan of the fibers.
Split bamboo tippers (frayed ends) have a very soft attack and are particularly suitable for soft, bass-line accompaniments because of their general “bassy” character. Due to the high amount of fiber, there is always a lot of friction. A shallow playing angle is absolutely necessary! These tippers are best suited for use on synthetic heads, which are generally more abrasion-resistant.
Bamboo is a special case
Explicit warnings about bamboo tippers appear time and again.
Bamboo is not a wood in the classical sense, but a woody grass with silica deposits. These mineral deposits can indeed have razor-sharp flanks that act like sandpaper. However, expertly finished attack surfaces (through rounding and sanding) create a unique base material for tippers. The sound of bamboo hot rods is present, crisp and with a fine clicking sound. This makes bamboo hot rods a unique, incomparable sound option that you can safely use if obtained from a quality manufacturer.
Again, a shallow playing angle is essential to optimize the life span of both drumhead and tipper. .
HEDWITSCHAK DRUMS and MOISES TIPPERS have been working on the development and improvement of drumheads and tippers for many years. We see our task as creating the widest possible range of sound options and playing possibilities for the musician with our products.
It is the player's responsibility to use these products properly and to take care of them. A regular tipper check during which all attack surfaces are carefully inspected and any sharp ends that may have developed are carefully sanded should be a matter of course for every player.
This way you are guaranteed to enjoy our products for a long time!
Christian Hedwitschak, Stevie Moises und Rolf Wagels