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How To Skin a Conga

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How To Skin a Conga

Postby Rick Levine on Sun Jan 25, 2009 2:16 pm

Here's how to put a new skin on a conga. There are some tricks to it, so I took pictures along the way.

You'll need the following to proceed:

-Plenty of beer and cigarettes.

-Other stuff (as pictured).

The white disk is a votive candle. Any uncolored, unscented candle will do. The replacement skin is an LP 20". It was $45 shipped.


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Soak both the old skin and the new skin in cold water overnight. Make sure the new skin is completely submerged. You're soaking the old skin so you can remove the ring. Don't toss the old one until you've removed the ring, unless you already did, in which case you're screwed (kthxbai).

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Prep the bearing edge by rubbing it with an uncolored, unscented candle. Beers consumed at this point should be 2 (YBMV).

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Use a blow dryer to melt the wax so that it has a thin even coat. Use your fur to wipe off any excess, or a clean cloth if your an ugly pink mostly bald primate. Apparently I was, uh, *taking a nap* when this was shot. Point the dryer straight down on the bearing edge and move slowly. Smoke break.

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Preposition your hook bolts so you can easily pull them up and hook them. Put the nuts and washers on, with only a few turns on the nuts. Preposition beers as needed, because the next part's a pain. From this point on you need to work continually until finished so the skin doesn't dry out.

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Get the skin and lay it rough side down on one of your wife's most expensive towels. You can also wipe your butt on it if she's looking (or taking pictures while you're *napping*).

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Center the skin on the drum exactly. Point the top of the logo (if there is one) at the maker's mark on the drum. This is really only necessary if you're anal.

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Push the ring-that-you-didn't-throw-away-with-the-old-skin down over the skin and clamp it evenly into place. Make sure the ring is clamped so it is exactly the same distance from the bearing edge all around.

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Have a smoke and slam a few preemptive beers. This next step is a wrestling match, and not one involving mud and bikinis, though it does involve bare skin. You will knock your beer over. Get over it.

Place the rim on the drum and pull the skin up inside it. Leave the clamps on as long as possible, though they'll probably fall off at some point. Once the skin is inside the rim, pull it down towards the floor over a hook bolt. Pull the hook bolt up and hook it. Do the same thing on the opposite side of the drum. Proceed around the drum and hook all of the bolts.

Continue to pull the skin towards the floor all the way around the drum to firmly and evenly seat the ring up into the rim. There must be no wrinkles between the rim and the bearing edge, and the ring evenly seated all the way around the inside of the rim. You may need pliers, but be careful to not damage the rim or the tensioned part of the skin.

I didn't get pictures of me doing this because my wife left for the mall after the towel incident. Guess we're getting new, even more expensive towels. When you're done the drum should look something like this....

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Turn the drum on it's side and check the ring's seating for evenness all around. Ensure that all of the bolts are straight up and down. You can adjust the bolts from side to side with a rubber mallet if needed. If you can remember how many beers you've had at this point "You're Doing It Wrong"(tm)(c)(wtf).

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Using the scissors, cut a 45 degree angle in the excess skin down to just above the rim. Using the rim as a guide, cut the excess away with a razor knife.

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When cutting, make sure you don't cut the tensioned skin. If you do cut the skin, even slightly, you'll be doing this again real soon. A box knife with a new blade angled on the top is best. You can hold it so there's little chance of cutting the drum's skin, but greatly increasing the probability of cutting your own. Prepositioning the soon-to-be-replaced-expensive-towel and a tourniquet is a good idea. Hopefully *your* wife is back from the mall so she can drive you to the ER.

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Adjust the rim depth using two rulers, one laid flat on the skin and the other straight up from the rim. Measure and adjust above all bolts so the rim is at an even depth all around.

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Smooth the remaining excess skin back up against the tensioned skin with your thumbs, removing as much wrinkle as you can. This makes the drum more comfortable to play when the skin dries.

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Leave the drum alone for a few days to let the skin dry and harden. Then you have to tune it....
Series: Things I Should Have Done Sober, Or Not At All:
4) Coil Tapping Pups: viewtopic.php?f=73&t=76626&p=529582#p529582
3) Guitar Hardware: viewtopic.php?f=47&t=76616
2) Trashing a Humbucker: viewtopic.php?f=73&t=72212
1) Conga Skinning: viewtopic.php?f=48&t=68412
Drum & Desk pics: viewtopic.php?t=57148
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Rick Levine
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Re: How To Skin a Conga

Postby Tweak on Fri Feb 27, 2009 3:58 am

Nice one Rick! Thanks!
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