Preparing Gourd for Chekere

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Postby limberic » Fri Apr 26, 2002 5:06 pm

I have recently scored some decently sized bottle gourds for making chekeres. This is my first go at making a chekere.

The outsides of the gourds cleaned up real nicely (warm water, soap, scrubber, and some real sweat, too). I probably spent 20-30 minutes scrubbing on each one.

For my first attempt, I chose a medium sized one (about 7" diam X 12" high) cut off the top-end where the second swelling was widest (about 3.25") with a fine toothed backsaw (used for finish carpentry). The gourd turns out to be surprisingly thick walled - ranging from about 1/4" - 3/8". (This might turn out to be a problem, if it does not resonate very much - but with that thickness, the gourd will take a pretty hard whapping without fear of smashing it). I've used a u-shaped carving knife to clean up the mouth and neck, sanded them inside, then used an L-shaped wire to scratch out most of the crap that was in the bottom of the gourd, and also dropped in a bunch of coarse/sharp lava rock and shook it long and hard to try and get the rest of the junk out. Looks, feels, and smells fine now!

My principle resource on this project has been "How to Make a Shekere" by Steve Tierra (from Djembe-L FAQ).

Now the Question: Tierra suggests using 3lb white shellac on the inside to seal the inside, which improves the resonance. I don't suppose I have to do this right now. I can make the bead skirt, see how it sounds, then maybe tweak the sound with the shellac. Anyone have experience here? Can you speak towards this idea?

I also plan to wipe tung oil on the outside to help bring out the burnt-amber color.

Anyways, this is a fun endeavour AND I'm lucky that I have a number of gourds to develop my skills on.

Best Regards,

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Postby Johnny Conga » Sat Apr 27, 2002 6:42 am

:D HI my experience it's about the weight of the bead skirt in relationship to.1 Sound-loud-soft-bright-dry. If you use tung oil that will bring out the color the more beads ,the louder the sound. You can also use polyurethane(bowlingalley) for the inside by pouring it in and spinning the gourd so it coats the walls and bottem of the gourd. Which will bring out the Hummm of the gourd,when the bottem is struck. Give it a couple of days to dry inside. It also depends on what you are using for Beads (barrel/pony) or glass, etc. I have always used pony/barrell beads for my Chekere's. At your Service....the Old/Newbie....JC JOHNNY CONGA.... ;)
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