* Care of the Instrument 

Conditioning the hide: The skin of new bodhráns often feels rough and scratchy.  Tippers that accompany many less expensive bodhráns/wall decorations are usually made of unpolished pine.  The sound produced by this combination of unconditioned hide and cheap tipper won't even come close to that low, thrummy drumming on your favorite recording.  There are a few things you can do to change the situation:

Dampening the hide during performance:  If your bodhrán is not tunable, or if you've cranked it as low as it will go and the hide is still too taut, lower the high snare tone with an even application of water.

Someday some doofuss is going to tell you to dampen your drum with beer or whiskey.

Tightening the hide with heat:  Scenario - Your bodhrán is not tunable and the night is hot and humid.  The drum hide sucked the water right out of the air, leaving you with a lose, flabby, unplayable flap of skin... a fairly common occurrence, especially when playing outside.

Keep a small hair blow dryer in your drum case.  Other tricks that work in a pinch: a warm lamp, a campfire or oven burner.  Once, I even used a heat lamp in a popcorn vending machine!

Care of tunable bodhráns: If you live in a region where temperatures and humidity fluctuate, loosen the drum hide to its lowest level when returning it to the case.  Why?  Let's say that you've been playing where you've needed to really crank the tuning to the highest level to maintain the drum's tension.  At the end of the night, you pack the drum away without lowering the tension.  The drum dries out and the humidity decreases.  You now have a stretched hide, or worse... cracks or a split in the skin.

Repairing the hide: Some doofuss doesn't watch where he's putting his big feet and knocks over your bodhrán.  After your pals pry your hands away from his throat and give him a head start to get away, you must fix the gaping hole in your drum.

Protect your drum with a case: Drum cases come in a wide variety of styles and sizes.  Built of wood, vinyl, cloth, and reinforced cardboard, the protection varies from material to material, depending on the construction.  Some allow drums of different sizes to stack, one inside the other (provided you have no cross-pieces or removable cross-pieces.)  Most come with a large handy pocket for storing your tippers and tuning wrench.

Send questions and comments on the care and feeding of bodhráns to brenda@bsutton.com.