Making Drums

By Dave Brummet

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When I received my copy of Making Drums for review I knew at first glance that I had come upon something great. As a drum maker and photographer myself I could really appreciate the work that obviously went into the collection of images for all the drums discussed. I believe it would make a great coffee table book based on the images alone!

A pleasant surprise was the supplier’s list on the first page alongside the publishing credits. It provides sources for hides, cutters, adhesives, trims, beads and paint – all essentials for many types of drum repairs and not readily found – thanks Dennis.

The book starts with a brief introduction to rhythm and discusses the many various instruments used to make it happen. In the first chapter the categories of drums based on body shape is clearly defined and explained as well as the source of the materials that make these drums speak.

Sound basics and drum acoustics are addressed in the second chapter to better explain why different drums sound like they do. These are sciences every drummer should know – even if they do not repair or build their own instruments.

In the third chapter different rawhides and their properties is the topic. Hair removal, skinning, and the preservation of rawhides are outlined giving ample information for processing hides for drum making. As most makers know it is very cost-effective to be able to process ones own rawhides.

The attachment of heads is a very wide-ranging subject as there are so many different ways to affix a head to a drum. From tacking, gluing, stapling, to lacing, screwing or wedging, chapter four covers all the basic types of attachment.

I was, however a little disappointed to not find out the secret of lapping and tucking a drum head as shown at the top right of pg. 33.

I have repaired Kendangs and Mridangams that had this method on the original heads but I could not replicate it no matter how hard I tried. Perhaps a sequel to this book could go into the detail that this type of job requires as obviously the infinite variables of drums and their elements is a nearly insurmountable task to try to cover in one book.

A huge kudos to the author for the idea of the template on pg. 41; it is ideal for spacing the knots around various sizes of hoops when using the Mali weave method for attaching a drumhead.

I might add that it would have been better to mention at this point, rather than on pg.32, the twitching method of further tuning the weave if more tension is vital, such as on an African djembe.

The second half of the book gives examples in detail on how to make various drums based on the expert knowledge of drum makers who generously allowed the author to document their procedures.

Once again the quality of the images is excellent and lends to an easy understanding of some of the secrets of the drum making processes passed on from drum maker to drum maker.

The book closes with profiles on the talented artisans featured in the drum making projects section of the book and a much-welcomed index to make quick referencing that much easier.

All in all this is an excellent book for drum makers, drummers or really any one that may have a slight curiosity in these very diverse, variable instruments we call drums.

Great detail, accurate historical tidbits and vibrant images all add up to a great volume destined to be a permanent resident on my bookshelf and as a future reference for many repairs to come. As an instructor and clinician I have been able to expand my own knowledge to pass on to others thanks to Dennis Waring.

I now also have a little more confidence when going to purchase an instrument as I know a lot more about the physics of how they are made, allowing me to make a more informed decision. Based on all this, I believe this book would be a complement to (and the life of) the top of any coffee table.

Dave and Lillian Brummet invite you to check out their blog, studio, book store, music store; find inspiring tips, interviews, drums and accessories, writer services and numerous helpful resources:

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