People think of percussion instruments as being sturdy and robust, but for the Irish frame drum, the opposite is true. The bodhran requires special care and maintenance to keep it looking and sounding its best.

The most temperamental part of all is the bodhran drum head. It’s the most difficult part of the instrument to care for, but treat it well and it will help you make brilliant music for years to come. What is it that makes the drum head so special? Let’s find out…

What is a Bodhran Made Of?

The drum head consists of a specially treated goatskin, stretched across a circular wooden frame, and fastened or secured at the rim. This combination of material – wood and animal skins – means that bodhrans are vulnerable to changes in both temperature and humidity.

Fitting a bodhran drum head

How Does The Weather Affect My Drum?

Dry weather conditions can cause the goatskin to tighten up, causing a weak, tinny sound. It’s dangerous to play the drum in this condition as the tipper or beater may cause a crack or tear if the skin is overly tight.

Damp weather conditions however have the opposite effect, causing skins to soften. This can cause the head to loosen and become floppy which also has a negative effect on the sound. The tone can become too deep and muddy, losing its clear bass resonance.

Ideally, the bodhrán requires moderate weather conditions. As this is beyond our control however, here are a few things you can do instead to keep your Irish bodhran in top condition.

Bodhran Drum Head Maintenance Tips

A well cared for musical instrument will produce superior sounds, and the same can be said of the bodhran’s goatskin head. To ensure quality music making, follow these tips below from an experienced bodhrán maker.

How to Care for Your Bodhran Skin

If you’re looking for the best way to care for your bodhran Drum Diddly Bodhrán Cream is the answer to all your prayers.

To use, simply massage a small drop into the skin with your fingers, using large circular motions. Leave it to soak in overnight and then, the next day, use a soft cloth to wipe the skin. This will remove any excess product and help your drum to dry.

Remember, if you live in a dry climate you should treat your bodhran at least once a month. If you live in a humid climate however, it will need less moisture so treatments can be spaced out for longer.

Learn more about proper bodhran care and maintenance here.

Paraic McNeela Irish bodhran drum - tuner and crossbar

Should you get a Tunable Bodhran Drum?

The short answer is yes. Tunable bodhrans contain an in-built tuning system that is incredibly useful for controlling the tension of the head. This gives you more control over the sound, playability and responsiveness of the instrument.

For those musicians who are serious about accompanying Irish folk music, this modern bodhran is a must. Tuneable bodhrans are particularly useful for those wishing to join in at a traditional Irish music session, as they will ensure you always sound your best.

Unleash Your Inner Rhythm

If you’ve fallen in love with Celtic music and would like to try your hand at this iconic Irish drum, make sure to check out the McNeela Bodhran Store. It stocks only the best musical instruments at affordable prices, suitable for beginners and experienced musicians alike.

To learn more about famous bodhran players of traditional music and their unique playing styles plus other handy bodhran tips and tricks, pop over to the McNeela Bodhran Blog and immerse yourself in the wonderful world of the Irish bodhran.

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