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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.


Image

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).

Image

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

Image

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.

Image

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.

Image

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*).

Image

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.

Image

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.

Image

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....

Image

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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Re: How To Skin a Conga

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

Nice one Rick! Thanks!
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Re: How To Skin a Conga

Postby Mr. Cloggy on Sat Mar 21, 2009 2:12 pm

Lovely read right there! I hope I never have to do it though...

A guy I know plays Djembé and my god, seeing him wrestle with all those pieces of rope when he retunes it. :shock:
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Re: How To Skin a Conga

Postby Rick Levine on Sun Mar 22, 2009 11:06 am

Yeah, the tuning. I didn't keep the tension high enough as the skin dried. I just kinda forgot about it for a few days. The skin dries at different rates in the middle versus at the rim. If you don't keep the tension proper the head will dry and harden concave. The wax is supposed to help with that, but not if you completely ignore it. When I noticed it, I had to resoak the skin overnight. It keeps its shape even when you resoak it, so I just had to put it back on the drum, reseat it in the rim, and pay attention to the tension the second time.

Sounds great now. Nice clean warm tone with good harmonics, but that took a few days of tuning, letting it settle, playing, and retuning.
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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Re: How To Skin a Conga

Postby drum4life42 on Fri Jan 21, 2011 8:31 am

Very good man. I didnt know it was that intense to change the skin on a conga... I have a couple congas and a couple djembes... I just tightened my largest djembe as much as I could and it still sounds pretty frappy... should I be changing the skin on it?? If so where do I find this "how to"
"The day my music feels like a job is the day I will stop creating"

"What do you mean theres no more wine left"

My Gear...
SYNTHS, DRUM MACHINE/SAMPLER = Korg EA-1, Korg ES-1-MK2, Yamaha PSR-47
ACOUSTIC PERC. = 3 Djembes = 1-Large 13" + 2-Med 10" + 10.5". LP Congas 10" + 11". Bongos 5" + 6".
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Re: How To Skin a Conga

Postby Rick Levine on Fri Jan 21, 2011 10:14 am

drum4life42 wrote:I just tightened my largest djembe as much as I could and it still sounds pretty frappy... should I be changing the skin on it?? If so where do I find this "how to"

Hand drums aren't like snares and toms, where fresh heads are required regularly. I replaced the skin on that drum because it sounded like a cardboard box. I got the congas used and the one head was just really messed up; uneven thickness, badly placed ring, etc. Now it sings like it should. If your drum sounds good, don't mess with it. Note I didn't replace the skin on the other conga because it was good.

I've never worked with a djembe so I can't help you there, but if it's one with tensioning strings it's going to be tough.
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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Re: How To Skin a Conga

Postby TKMJ Productions on Fri Jan 21, 2011 6:43 pm

Rick Levine wrote: I've never worked with a djembe so I can't help you there, but if it's one with tensioning strings it's going to be tough.

Try putting the skins on a Native American powwow drum if you want "tough"!
It ain't no easy task. :crazy:
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http://www.soundclick.com/bands/default ... dID=942824

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Re: How To Skin a Conga

Postby Rick Levine on Sat Jan 22, 2011 11:23 am

Just found this:
http://www.wwdrums.com/pages/djembe-dru ... tions.html

There's also a good article on tuning at the same site.
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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Re: How To Skin a Conga

Postby aww-de-oh on Sat Jan 22, 2011 3:30 pm

LoL, how did i miss this thread?
Glad i caught it this time through the rotation! Thanks for the instructions... i'd end up dropping it off someplace as before this, i hadn't a clue!

AND
ROFL2 @ the pictures and humor!
I had a good laugh when i scrolled down, and saw your avatar was doing the replacement!!
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Re: How To Skin a Conga

Postby Rick Levine on Sun Jan 23, 2011 9:56 am

aww-de-oh wrote:I had a good laugh when i scrolled down, and saw your avatar was doing the replacement!!

Why does everyone think that's just an avatar? Can no one imagine that's what a drummer actually looks like? Didn't you watch Sesame Street?
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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Re: How To Skin a Conga

Postby JHH on Tue Jan 25, 2011 11:31 am

Rick Levine wrote:
aww-de-oh wrote:I had a good laugh when i scrolled down, and saw your avatar was doing the replacement!!

Why does everyone think that's just an avatar? Can no one imagine that's what a drummer actually looks like? Didn't you watch Sesame Street?


Wow wow I don't have that much hair ! Is that because I'm also a guitar and bass player? ^^
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Re: How To Skin a Conga

Postby Rick Levine on Wed Jan 26, 2011 8:55 am

JHH wrote: I don't have that much hair ! Is that because I'm also a guitar and bass player? ^^

It might have something to do with you being human.... :mrgreen: There's no captcha that'll stop login by members with alternate primate lifestyles.
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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Re: How To Skin a Conga

Postby JHH on Wed Jan 26, 2011 9:13 am

Rick Levine wrote:
JHH wrote: I don't have that much hair ! Is that because I'm also a guitar and bass player? ^^

It might have something to do with you being human.... :mrgreen: There's no captcha that'll stop login by members with alternate primate lifestyles.


Good to know, good to know. :lol:

Anyways thanks for sharing the great pictures and instructions.
I don't play conga myself but I definitely never imagined it would be different from changing the heads of a normal drum kit. Always good to learn something new!
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Re: How To Skin a Conga

Postby drum4life42 on Mon Apr 11, 2011 2:14 pm

So, I was finally able to tune the djembe much more and now it sounds killer again! High humidity and heat made it sound horrible...
I had to wrap the rope around a stick and pull while my dad clamped the vice grips to hold the loop over.
I did the typical "diamond shape" when tuning. Big bass and lots of snap!
"The day my music feels like a job is the day I will stop creating"

"What do you mean theres no more wine left"

My Gear...
SYNTHS, DRUM MACHINE/SAMPLER = Korg EA-1, Korg ES-1-MK2, Yamaha PSR-47
ACOUSTIC PERC. = 3 Djembes = 1-Large 13" + 2-Med 10" + 10.5". LP Congas 10" + 11". Bongos 5" + 6".
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Re: How To Skin a Conga

Postby Rick Levine on Mon Apr 11, 2011 6:22 pm

I've been eyeing djembes on Craigslist and in pawn shops. I haven't pulled the trigger because of how much work goes into making a hand drum sound good. I would want a real one with tensioning strings; not one with a chrome ring and lug bolts. I'm also at the point where I need to get rid of something for everything I acquire. Bummer. Or not.
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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Re: How To Skin a Conga

Postby drum4life42 on Mon Apr 11, 2011 6:26 pm

Haha, ya man I know exactly how u feel. I think the best place to search tho is the buy and sell's. They are kinda expensive new, "what isnt" And seriously if u find one that sounds crappy/frappy u can probably get it for cheap and all u have to do is what I did, Tighten the crap out of it!!
"The day my music feels like a job is the day I will stop creating"

"What do you mean theres no more wine left"

My Gear...
SYNTHS, DRUM MACHINE/SAMPLER = Korg EA-1, Korg ES-1-MK2, Yamaha PSR-47
ACOUSTIC PERC. = 3 Djembes = 1-Large 13" + 2-Med 10" + 10.5". LP Congas 10" + 11". Bongos 5" + 6".
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