Question from John:
Q. Have you any advice on using the screws and should I treat the skin?
A. Dear John,
The knobs are for adjusting the tension of the skin. As the maker, I have set the tension exactly equal all the way around the drum.This is my job to send it to you with the tension exactly equal on all screws. This gives the fullest sweetest sound.
The drum at this time should be at the best sound it will ever be and should need no playing in. With time your ear and the drum sound will reach an accomodation. That being said, the sound will open out and deepen slightly as it ages.
On a daily basis in your playing you will have to adjust the tension because of the different climatic conditions. In a session I adjust my drum maybe 10 times.
it is very very important to maintain carefully even tension. So if you turn 1 screw you must turn all 8 exactly equally.
As time goes on you will find that the sound degrades. The reason ...unequal tensioning...a wee bit wrong every day builds up the inequality. as your ear develops you will roughly be able to correct this by feel as you turn the screws.
Coupled with the fact that the skin gets tired ...hence poor sound.
the cure is to keep the screws at normal tension..damp well in luke warm water both sides of the skin for 5 minutes . When you dump the water you will find the skin saggy . screw up to remove the sag ...only just.
dry for 8 hours....You have reset the tuning.
As you can see TENSIONING the skin and TUNING the skin are 2 different things.
So, to finish, remove any roughness using very very fine wet and dry abrasive paper...about 2000 grit...only just rub off the high bits and if possible do not touch at all the beaten surface.
Never use oils or waxes or anything at all on the skin of this type of drum.
FURTHER TO THE QUESTION OF READJUSTING THE TENSION DURING A SESSION
In my experience, the more susceptible a drum is to climatic conditions the better the drum is. I have no explanation for this.
As skins are so sensitive to draughts, humidity ,heat etc where you sit in a session is important .Try to stay out of draughts. If you must leave your drum sitting for a while, avoid sitting it on a floor, as there is higher humidity level m here. The bottom of the skin will become damper than the top. Best to put it back in its bag.
Readjust the tension before restarting.