What skins should I buy? - I need new skins what should I get.

Manufacturers, brands, skins, maintenance, stands, sticks, michrophones and other accessories for congueros can be discussed into this forum ...... leave your experience or express your doubts!

Postby Kracker » Tue Apr 03, 2001 10:21 pm

Hi guys, I am a new conga player and I have just bought a secondhand conga and tumba (afro). The conga definately needs a new skin as the tuning rods are at the top of the thread. What skins should I buy and how much will that cost approx. Also how difficult is it to change them could I do it myself or should I get a pro. to do it. I live in Liverpool, where and who do you recommend. Thanks in advance. Kracker!!
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Postby limberic » Wed Apr 04, 2001 12:37 am

Don't know nothing about what skins you should buy BUT if you have some manual dexterity, which you MUST if you drum, you can fix it yourself if you have to.

1. Take head off and soak in water for hour(s). The skin will get floppy like a chamois cloth. Then you can cut out the ring, which you need for your new head.

2. Get the skin from one of them Foot & Mouth beasties or a dead but healthy carcass (bovine). Flesh it (scape the fat off the inside) and shave it and use the old ring to remount it (sew it on like it was before).

Here is an link to a Djembe-List page where the guy is giving more explicit details than the thumbnail that I just gave you.


It is very enlightening working with a real skin - I've skinned my djembe and the process was a real learning experience but I had one helluva sense of accomplishment when I finished. A commercial head was โ and I spent only ฟ for a goat skin with the hair still on it.

Good Luck,
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Postby Mike » Wed Apr 04, 2001 3:20 pm

It depends a bit what kind of Afro Conga you have, with sewn-in ring or the´"traditional" way (head wrapped around ring and tucked by rim.
I have "cheap" wood congas whose sewn heads I changed with great effect for the tone. I got hold of some flat cow skin (BSE-less in those days) and mounted it. A bit tricky, but with a little patience it works. Your local drum dealer surely has a skin fitting for those Afro Conga. Careful! Wooden or fiberglass drums makes a difference. Thicker heads fo rthe latter ones, thinner (1-2,5mm) for woodsies. Don´t buy pre-mounted heads - too expensive.
Good Luck
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Postby Mike » Thu Apr 05, 2001 7:08 am

By the way, here are some tips on the details from an expert which I quote from latinperc.-yahoo:
Subject: reskinning
Date: Thu, 29 Mar 2001 12:23:51 -0800
From: ray <rlruhlen@earthlink.net>

These are my suggestions based on my experience

You can soak the old skin in hot water, it doesnt take too long to get
the ring out if you are impatient, maybe two hours. I've done it on thin
skins in less than an hour. With your hand, start at the loosest edge
of the ring and fold the skin back to expose the ring. Once it is
exposed in one place you can pull it loose the rest of the way.

But you need to soak the new skin for some time. I always use cold or
lukewarm water. I've heard that warm or hot water removes oils from the
skin and weakens it. Depending on the thickness it can even
take over night. I usually use the laundry tub or a pail to keep the
bathtub available. Unless the new head is planed flat (and a recent message
said that you can get planed heads from United Rawhide in Chicago), you will
find some sections thicker than others. If you try to get the part you will be
playing to be the most even part, be careful to leave enough skin all
the way round. Anyway, the thicker part will take longer to soften.
When it gets soft enough you will have plenty of time to get it mounted
before it starts to reharden.

I've never used the method of running string across the head from four
opposite points, but it's a great idea. It's difficult to get all the edges
over the ring and under the top hoop - while pulling the last part the
first part tends to slip out. I use both vise-grip pliers and "C"
clamps around the hoop. Other pliers such as needle nose clamp in such
a small area they tend to rip the material.

I've read that putting some beeswax or paraffin around the mating edge of the drum when
the edge meets the skin makes tuning it better later and I do that when I
think of it, but I've done many without it and they work fine.

Once you get the skin under the hoop all the way around you need to pull
and move the skin around to get any folds out. This seems impossible
but keep at it. It is very important to get even tension across the

Now, on many tuned drums you find that the tension hooks are not long
enough to get the nuts on them to draw them tight. What I do is get
threaded rod (you can get it in different lengths at most hardware
stores. Take one of the nuts with you to get the right diameter and
thread.) Then you can cut with a hack saw and bend on a vise to make a
hook longer than the ones on the drum to get the threading started. You
will need at least two, and maybe three. Once you get three started you
can tighten down until you can get the regular hooks started. You need
to work the skin to get the hoop down far enough on the skin so your
hands dont hit it when you play. You may not need to do this at all.

When you get the skin straight and even you can tighten the hoop down
quite a bit to get the hoop down over the drum edge. But loosen it some
when you put it down to dry because it shrinks as it dries and can break if too taut.
I put the drum on its side to allow air to circulate
on both sides. You can use a hair dryer inside to speed it up but you
really should develop the patience to wait until it dries naturally.

When it dries I put a good leather conditioner on the underside
(reaching down into the drum with a brush). Then I use a hand lotion
with lanolin on the top, A lot will soak in. Jerry Steinholz uses
Lubriderm ans swears by it and he's right. But other stuff works ok too.
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Postby Bill Losh » Thu Apr 05, 2001 11:03 am

I know you didn't ask but if the first two answears sound like too much work (I'm tired just reading them) you might look at synthetic heads. I live in a very humid climate and they were the answears to my prayers. They stay tuned for months regardless of conditions, you can carry your drums in a hot car fully tuned and not panic, and they are easier on your hands in my opinion.
Remo heads are louder and a little pingy but you will be heard even with djembe players, great with rock bands.
Evans heads more closely mimic the traditional sound and feel of skin.
I am not an expert these are just my opinions.
I do enjoy playing someone else's drums with skin I just don't want the hassle of dealing with them. If you are not constantly tuneing, you will find you have much more time to play and the more you play the better you get.
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