How To Make A DIY Traditional Drum

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Drums have been around for thousands of years. They are commonly documented in African and Native American tribal paintings and have a distinctive sound that anybody who appreciates music will be able to recognize.

They were all of different sizes and ranged from tiny hand drums all the way up to tall war drums. The ancient drum makers would use a wide range of materials for their bases, from wood to bone, and even ivory in some rare cases. The surface was almost always a tanned piece of leather.

COlorful DIY drums.

Whether it was a morning wake-up call, coming-of-age celebration, festival, or a cry for war, the drums were always present and played a very important role in almost every Native American society. To this day, you can still visit the reservations (or just go on YouTube) and listen to the beautiful rhythm of the drums. It’s as entrancing as it is energizing.

Possibly one of the most recognized drums is the traditional Native American frame drum. Chances are, you probably had one as a kid. They used to be popular toys, and souvenir shops would often sell them to travelers on the road, especially if you were near reservation land.

They traditionally consisted of a small cylinder (about 4 or 5 inches wide, and 6 or 7 inches tall) that had a tight piece of rubber drawn across both sides of it. If you grew up like most kids playing Cowboys and Indians, then this was an essential part of your gear.

Today, we’re going to give you a step-by-step guide on how to make your very own DIY drum. Whether you’re bored and looking for a weekend project, need to design a new stage prop, or you’re just looking to introduce your kids or classroom to the wonderful world of drums, making your own drum can be a fun and rewarding experience!

Let’s start out by taking a look at some of the tools and materials that you’ll need to start with, and some common substitutions that you can use.

Tools And Materials

The first step is going to be to find a drumhead. This is going to be the surface which you are going to be beating. It needs to have a nice amount of reverb which will be created by stretching the surface tight.

Three pieces of leather.

This means that it will need to be flexible enough to stretch, but strong enough not to rip or tear. You will want your drumhead to be about 2 inches wider than the circumference of your drum base. Here are some common choices:

  • Leather – The best place to find a good piece of leather is to go to a local upholstery shop or to check out your local arts and crafts store. If you live out in the country, you may be able to find a good piece of tanned hide at your local deer processing location.
  • Rubber –  This is a common option as it’s relatively inexpensive and easy to find. You can order bulk drum covers from online distributors or even find them in your local music store. If you’re feeling creative, you can cut a circular pattern out of old cookware or cleaning gloves. Just make sure that you’re only using one piece

Next, you need a good drum base. These can come in all different forms and sizes as long as they have a cylindrical shape. It’s a good idea to stay away from metal, however, unless you enjoy spending hours of time and burning out drill bits. You may also want to purchase some paint to color your drum base with. Here are a few drum base ideas:

  • A piece of PVC pipe
  • A cardboard cylinder
  • Plastic pipe fittings
  • A hollowed-out tree trunk or branch

Finally, you’ll need some strings. You’ll use these to secure the drumhead to the drum base. Traditionally, Native Americans would use strips of leather. However, those can be a little bit harder to come by these days, and a strong cotton or nylon string will work just as well.

Now Let’s take a look at some of the tools that you’ll need to put your drum together.

  • First, you’ll need a leather punch to make holes for the string in the leather. If you opted for the rubber option, you might be able to use a pair of sharp scissors instead.
  • Exacto knife or a razor blade. You will need this to cut your drumhead down to size.
  • Drill and drill bits. You’ll need this to drill holes in the side of your drum base so that you can stretch and secure your drum head.
  • Paint or marker. Perhaps you prefer the drum base as it is, but it can be fun to personalize your drum by painting or drawing designs around the sides. If you’re working with kids, they’ll find this part to be very fun.

How To Make A Frame Drum (Step-By-Step)

Now that you’ve got your materials let’s take a look at how to make a homemade drum!

  • Cut your drumhead to size –  Take your drumhead and stretch it across the surface of the drum itself. You want your drumhead to be 2 inches wider around than the circumference of the drum base. If it is larger, take your knife and cut it down to size.
  • Punch holes in the drumhead – Now that you’ve got it cut to size, use your leather punch to punch a hole every 2 to 3 inches around the edge of your drumhead.
  • Drill accompanying holes in the bottom of the drum base – Now take your drill and drill the same number of holes into the bottom of the drum base.
  • Line the holes up and thread the string – Take your leather strips or string and pull a knot around the hole you punched in the drum head. Then take the other end and tie a loose knot around the hole you drilled in the drum base.
  • Tighten your drumhead – Now that everything is in place, stretch the drumhead and make it nice and tight. Then, one by one, tighten your strings near the base. This will ensure that the drumhead is tight and even across the whole surface.
  • Color and design – You’re done with the hard part now! Take some paint and markers and make your own designs around the drum base.

And there you have it! You’ve just made your first diy traditional drum. If you did a good job and pulled the drumhead tight, you’ll hear a wonderful sound. If you feel that it does not sound the way that you had hoped, try to tighten or loosen some of the strings one at a time.

DIY drum.

Making your own drum can be a great experience, and if you put time and effort into it, then you can end up with a truly unique and beautiful instrument at the end of the day. The best part is that you don’t need a lot of materials either. You can purchase most of the materials for under $10, and you probably have all of the tools that you need sitting in your garage.

Happy drumming!




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