Thursday, 28 May 2015 11:26

Drumskins

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As a bodhrán maker with over 10 years experience and having made more than 5000 bodhráns, carried out countless experiments with synthetic and natural skins from a variety of animals as well as a multiple and a combination of drum skins, I am now in a position to offer a comprehensive and selected program of drum skins for my bodhrán models. Especially natural skins on the other hand lend an inspired individualistic sound so inherent in all instruments made in our workshop.
Working natural skins in itself requires much experience, fingertip sensitivity and expertise, as goatskins are composed of 7 different structures each of which have different characteristics.
The only part of a goat that continues to live on for decades is the skin which is personally carefully selected for each individual requirement by me. I am always very aware that I am dealing with part of a living creature and therefore this work demands respectful handling.
The goatskins are sorted for their respective requirements, fleshed and cured according to an old well-proven traditional biological working process.
This environmentally-friendly work-procedure takes from two to three weeks. In comparison to the usual time spent on skin processing, the additional time given to our skin processing method ensures highest quality.

All drum skins specified here have one thing in common: they tend to sound better and better while being played in and the sound becomes more and more balanced.
I am constantly being asked about the subject of „Anthrax“. Indeed in recent years, some cases of Anthrax (splenic fever) have been reported. This has been caused by incorrect handling of skins. As far as I am aware, there have been import embargos for the import of skins in certain countries or at least very strict import regulations have been applied. This is further proof that in the final analysis, it`s not the price that counts but the quality, and this basically applies to all aspects of trade. This is especially relevant for such highly sensitive products as animal skins. This does not mean by any means that African goatskins are generally affected. However, I personally feel better working with skins of controlled origin.
Our drumskins are manufactured by an experienced tanner who places great emphasis on cleaniness. The company has been in the tanning industry for over 600 years. We use bodhran skins which come exclusively from Germany, Austria and Switzerland and mostly we use Swiss mountain goatskins. Each goat is registered with the appropriate authorities within 48 hours of birth.The animal is then ear-tagged, and is permanently checked by a vet. In this way, the authorities always know where the animal is being kept, as well as the age and state of its health. This assures that the origin of our bodhran skins can easily be traced and thus ensures highest quality skins. These procedures are of top priority for me and my tanner as we are the first people to come in contact with the animal skins and enables us to guarantee continuous top quality. As a result of these precautions, we have absolutely no hesitation in allowing our instruments to be used in kindergardens and schools.
The goatskins used by me have been produced exclusively according to my specifications.
We offer different processed skins for each of our bodhrán lines:

 


STANDARD SKIN

Our so-called 'Standard Skin' is our most universal skin. It was mostly used for the „LightLine" and „BasicLine" models (which are no longer in production since 4/2012). The 'Standard Skin is the basic product used for our DragonSkin and the new 'Edlauer Select' premium goat skin. It is environmentally-friendly produced, is flexible and offers a wide sound spectrum. In addition it tunes easily and likewise holds the tuning very well. As previously mentioned, it requires some playing-in time before acquiring a mature sound. Good progress can be detected after just a few days of playing. The positive characteristics of this skin are its reliability and longevity as there are no animal fats or chemical particals included. There is no danger of skin tear if used in a normal way. This is a drumskin of the highest standard in a high-quality finish.

The name "Standard skin" may sound perhaps a bit run-of-the-mill, but is exactly the opposite. I was thinking about changing this name, but finally decided to keep it, becaue it has already become common. In addition, the "standard" of Hedwitschak products is already very high anyway ;o)

 

EDLAUER SELECT 

I am using drum skins made by Werner Edlauer exclusively for more than 10 years now. (The only exception is the Lambeg skin used for the RolfWagelsEdition). He is also the man behind the DRAGONSkin and with no doubt he is one of the best skin makers worldwide. Together, we developed special drum skins for my bodhráns over the last few years. The new Edlauer Select Premium drum skins are made especially for the CoreLine series. They are specially chosen goat skins and are produced in a unique way exclusively for Hedwitschak drums. I will then select the suitable skin areas for the given CoreLine model. Characteristics of the EdlauerSelect Premium skins are: Harmonious timbre, great flexibility, comfortable surface feel, easy reaction to the skin hand with effortless tonal modulation and stable tuning in almost any climate zone. 
A premium drum skin for an outstanding bodhrán series.

 

DRAGONSKIN

In this case I am referring to a specially treated skin which is refined according to a special in-house treatment procedure. Only the most homogeneous and optically most attractive standard skins are selected for this purpose.
DRAGONSkin is a drum skin which has been well played-in from the very start but still has much more to offer. That special something extra which is difficult to describe in words. The sound-character can best be described as lively, harmonious with crystal-clear highs, a creamy mid-range tone and a full bass sound. It responds easily to the slightest touch of the skin hand and offers a very wide ranging sound spectrum. In comparison to the famous Lambeg skins from the North of Ireland, the attack is a bit softer.
DRAGONSkin is a copyright brand ! (TM)
After having worked on DRAGONSkins for over three years now, I have decided to differentiate more precisely between the skins and am now in a position to offer three distinct variations. The differences between the skins may be slight as the skin selection process is carried out meticulously and each skin dervies from a series of the same goatherd. However fundamental differences in sound and feeling do exist which should be of great interest especially to the more seasoned bodhran player.

DRAGONSkin classic: This is he standard DRAGONSkin model with a skin of of medium thickness and hardness. This ist he most popular and universally used HighEnd model with the typically creamy sound character. Even unexperienced players are well served with this model. Designed to suit from the session to the stage from „Long-and-slender-tippers" to “Hotrods”.

DRAGONSkin velvet: A "normal" DRAGONSkin-processing procedure. However, for this model we tend to use thinner and softer skins from younger animals.These skins have a softer feel thus reproducing a softer sound. Excellently suited for "bassline players" and to accompany the voice. Likewise suitable for spirituals and shamanic techniques.

DRAGONSkin spicy: Here we use thicker skins from older animals (3-7 years old). These are then sanded to medium thickness. This means that the portion of the harder outer skin layer is greater. In addition, the intensity of the DRAGONSkin procedure is shortened. The result is a DRAGONSkin with a harder attack, more punch even at louder sesions, but still with that creamy DRAGONSkin sound character. Maybe something more for the "topendstyle" player. Lucy Randall playing one of the very first DRAGONSkinspicy: Youtube.
Thanks to the Ausrian drum comapany beatfatory.at for permission to use the name "spicy" in this context!  Excellent Djembes and more drum accesoires: spicy instruments !

 

ORIGINAL "LAMBEG SKINS" FROM THE NORTH OF IRELAND

These skins are not produced by us, but made in the North of Ireland. We deal exclusively with two suppliers Frank Orr and Thomas Louden with whom we have been trading for years. Both partners are experts in their trade and are the some of the last in a line of producers of these renowned skins who work according to old tanning traditions.
The living legend on the bodhran Seamus O´Kane was the maker who made the Lambeg skin bodhrán famous. The name is associated with the large Lambeg drums called after the actual place Lambeg.
It was Rolf Wagels`own wish to use these skins for his own special „Rolf_Wagels_Edition" ("RWE") bodhrán and as a result we make this special series exclusively for him using these skins. These models are only available directly from him: More details available at: Rolf Wagels Website.

 

 

TWINSKIN

TwinSkin is a completely new and unique special drumhead developed by me. It is made of two or more individual skin layers. Special requests can be considered.

This has nothing to do with "double skin" or "stick together skins" or conventional laminated skins.

The remarkable thing about TS is that it feels, looks and reacts like a usual single skin.

The advantages of TwinSkin:

– Much less need of tuning as a usual single skin.

– TS can be composed of different kind of skins, for example interior DRAGONSkinvelvet and exterior DRAGONSkinspicy.

– Completely new qualities of the skin can be created. For example a soft and flexible skin with an unusual hard attack sound.

– It is possible to incorporate skin rings or patches between the drum head.

– Extremely long lifetime. Expecially for players with aggressive hand sweat, this might be a real option.

The development time of TS began in 2005, but the problem was always the lack of flexibility of the skin. More prototypes have been built in 2008 and have been improved in 2009. Since the beginning of 2010 the first playable TS drums have made their way on the stage. With the introduction of this new website on the 1st of January 2011, TS is now available for custom ordered drums.

More information about this topic will be available later this year.

If you are seriously interested in a TS drum please send me an Email. In the year of introducion 2011 I offer special rates for TS. Finally, I have to get more practical experience now ;o)

 




FAQ

 

"Oh, there is a hole in my drumskin !"
Naturally we try to avoid any possible weaknesses or flaws in the skin when sorting and selecting.
We have already mentioned that there are no flaws in our skins such as runs or ladders, However, since we are dealing here with very valuable raw materials it is understandable that we are not in a position to discard of any skins which may be optically flawed.
So-called “pinholes”, (miniature pin-sized perforations with thick edges, scars, darker transparent or somewhat thinner patches on the skin are all natural features and should not be considered as ground for complaint.
When we use skins with such characteristics, then only because we are convinced they are perfectly in order. We urge you to trust in our experience and be assured that you are in possession of a valuable natural product with distinctive characteristics. A scarred skin is by no means a defective skin but living proof of a solid and special animal.

„What ist the lifespan of a skin ?"
This will depend on the treatment of the bodhran player. If the instrument is treated well, the skin can last of decades. This does not mean that the skin has to has to treated in a special way. It is not necessary to use oils, greases or special soaps-just keep on playing and keep the skin at normal tension. One should not loosen the skin after playing and likewise one should avoid exposing the instrument to sun rays in a car at high tension. Time and experience will help the player to look after the instrument properly.
I recommend using Camelia oil to clean the outer skin. This is a vegetable, acid-free oil available at any chemist`s.
I would however recommend a so-called „SkinReset" after a prolonged playing period. This can be done by an experienced player but I also offer this service at my workshop. This involves removing the tape, detuning and relaxing the skin. The skin is then watered, dried slowly, retaped, sanded and smoothed inside using a 600 gr. sanding paper. This procedure served to retighten the skin and it is once again homogeneous in sound. This is especially useful with players who tend to hit the skin continuously at the same place causing an imbalance in vibration through time. A „SkinReset" is helpful here and works wonders.
Caution is advised when playing in new skins as some skins have a tendency to stretch. Therefore for reasons mentioned above, it is not advisable to loosen the skin completely after playing. Instead, it should simply be left at normal tension. Otherwise, it could happen that the skin tightens after a time even when the tuning system is completely loose.
Another area to watch out for is he possibility of skin wear. In particular, player who play at high tension may detect that the space between the lower point of the adjusters and the tuning rim may become bigger in time. In some cases, there is even a gap between the tuning rim and the main rim. This will be different from skin to skin. Some skins do not shown any signs of wear , some show slight signs of wear at the start, then subsequently no further wear takes place while other skins tend to wear down through the years. This is absolutely normal with natural skins and is no cause for concern. This will not have a negative influence on the overall sound. In addition, my HighEndLine bodhráns offer the possibility to have the intermediate rim replaced. In this way, the visible gap disappears and the instrument will look like new again.

Basically one can condense all instructions on how to care for your instrument into a few simple words. Handle your instrument with care and treat it as a fried with respect. Then you will have many years of fun and enjoyment . Familiarize yourself with all the characteristics and peculiarities of your instrument and apply them to optimum effect when playing.
During my lifetime as a bodhran player I have never heard a truer saying than the following:

“It`s not the player who chooses the drum, but the drum that chooses the player”


-- Marie Sullivan, USA


 

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