A RECAP OF GENERAL BRAZIL-PERCUSSION CARE INSTRUCTIONS
Drums and Brazil percussion instruments, metal ones especially, are fabulous street-worthy instruments that will bring great pleasure to yourself, your band and your surrounding. However, they are not indestructible. If you treat them with care and respect, they will last for years. But if you are a destructive nature with a penchant for punishing your instrument, things will not work out well.
Samba Percussion Pocket Guide - why everybody needs to read this
There is a basic set of rules that you should keep in mind as a sambista, and even if you are not a beginner anymore, it can be good to remember some of these things. If you contact us, we'll be happy to discuss any questions you may have at length alongside other tips and tricks to get the best from your instrument and help you have it for a really long time.
ALWAYS TREAT YOUR INSTRUMENT WITH RESPECT
Because continually hitting your instrument with the wrong sticks or beaters or too much force will eventually break it. Yes sambistas - even though it is a drum or a bell and it's meant to be hit. This is a general recommendation for all Samba instruments from agogos to tamborins, from repiniques to surdos and caixas to timbals. You risk cracking seams, breaking skins, and even shells or rims. This should go without saying as with a violent playing style or wrong gear you can break just about anything. If you forgot your agogo stick and the only thing you can find is a massive hardwood surdo beater size XXL to whack the life out of your poor agogo, what could possibly go wrong. Just because an instrument is made of metal, doesn't mean it is genuinely indistructible. Generally try to avoid anything too forceful, instead be kind and mindful with your instrument. A relaxed playing technique and knowing your instrument's sweetspot will go a long way.
CHECK AFTER USE
If your instrument has wood components like a wood chocalho or a wood surdo or timbal, make sure your instrument is dry and hide heads are relaxed after finishing playing. Storing your instrument wet or damp will result in a risk of developing rust, parts going mouldy, threads going hard and shortening the instrument's life. Keep a few spare parts so you can fix stuff if needed. Don't be an animal, clean your instrument.
A CAR IS NOT ADEQUATE TO STORE MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS
Putting instruments in the car for transport during a few hours is fine, and sometimes necessary. But as a general storing place, a van or a car is not the brightest of ideas. Yes, some will say they have been doing this for years. Then you've been lucky. Wood and hide heads will not live long at all under these conditions. Remember that cars can heat up very hot in the sun. Hides will dry out and tear pretty fast, they don't even like longer exposure to sunlight yet heat. Wood will dry out and twist, and even synthetic materials will react to extreme changes in temperature. Skins and Samba Reggae plastic beaters will soften in the heat and harden and crack in the cold. It will mess with your tuning and the material is a lot more likely to break. So storing instruments in your car boot is an absolute unquestionable indisputable no no.
AVOID OVERTUNING OR TUNING TOO FAST
We can't say it often enough: Tune new heads with time and not from 0 to 100 in one go. If you put too much stress on a new drum head - synthetic or hide - there is a very high risk it will tear. Please-please-please read our blog about correct tuning and caring for nylon drum heads and in particular new heads and how best to play them in. The tearing might not happen straight away but the risk of your skin ripping during a performance is a lot higher. We don't sell rubbish second rate cheap instruments that will let you hang. Samba gear doesn't just randomly fall apart or shatter out of the blue, but if you overstress where you should be gentle and patient and know what you're doing, it will eventually break.
NYLON SKINS: CRACK IN THE RIM AND CREASED SKIN EDGES
No, it is not a production defect. And no, the head has not been used. Try to tuck a much too large t-shirt in your jeans, guess what: there'll be creases in the shirt. So when pressing a 2-dimensional Samba head foil into a 3-dimensional C-profile, the same thing happens - there are creases. The creases are a normal part of Brazilian drum heads, and so is the gap in the aluminium profile. The C-profile has to be cut to size somewhere, and that's the gap you see. Please read our detailed blog article on this topic, it will answer all your questions.
CARING FOR YOUR INSTRUMENT OVER THE YEARS
Instruments age, some better, others less. Drums are dragged across parades, in the rain, in the heat, whacked, transported, tuned. A lot of stress for a simple piece of metal and plastic. Treat it right and it'll be your faithful friend for many years to come. Check your instrument from time to time, replace what's not functional any more, if threads go stiff, a drip of graphite oil will do the trick. If Heads don't tune up anymore, check if they are sitting too low and replace them before you hit the rim of the shell and if that has already happened, then yes, the drum might be broken for good. Take it apart every now and again, you can actually clean your drum! A gentle wipe-down with a soft, slighly humid cloth does the trick.
Some instruments change how they look over the years. Steel sheet instruments for example come shiny from the factory but will build a patina over time which is dark grey in colour. It is not orange. Rust is orange. As the patina develops, the surface will become less reactive and the drum won't be shiny any more. If you don't like this idea, polished aluminium is the alternative for you. If your drum has a few dents on the outside but the rims are still good, there are many good years left in your drum. Don't neglect your instruments!
AVOID TRANSPORTING INSTRUMENTS WITHOUT TRANSPORT PROTECTION AKA GIG BAGS
Do yourself and your drum a favour and get a proper protection bag. Not a sleeve, not a thin cover, a proper, padded transport bag. You got yourself a brand new surdo, throw it in the back of your car with a repinique and a bunch of other gear, tearing skins, scratches, dents - not how it works. We can usually tell by the position or the shape of a damage what has caused it. Don't skimp on this important accessory, mark our words. If there is no bag for your instrument size available or you can't affort to get a proper bag, be creative, invent something, here's a crazy idea: use an old blanket or pieces of thick cardboard to cover the heads. Drums should be transported cautiously and moved around gently, if you aren't sure what you are doing, don't do it!
STICKS, BEATERS, DRUM HEADS - ITEMS OF USAGE WITH AN EMPHASIS ON USAGE
Spoiler alert - sticks break. So do mallets and skins. They will do it regularly and at the most impossible moments, that's unwritten drummer's and sambista's law. They can go on the first day, or they can last a year. There are potentially at least 20 reasons why sticks or skins can break. We can help by giving tips on how to avoid those reasons and extend these items' lives but can't possibly guarantee how long they will live under circumstances we do not know. The mighty sambista has a simple solution, he knows his gear, treats it with common sense and carries spare parts! And hey - no risk, no fun. If a head blows, at least you had a blast causing it.
IF SOMETHING'S BROKEN - FIX IT
When we say, handle instruments with care, this doesn't mean you can't fix things yourself. A twisted rim on a surdo or repinique is the perfect example, as this is not uncommon at all. Tension might have bent the rim a little and the shape of your rim is now closer to oval than round. Easy fix - take off hardware, put rim on ground, step in with foot, push/pull gently but with determination back into shape. Done. If dirty, clean. If wet, dry. If in danger of being damaged, protect. If untuned, tune. Check playing technique, take classes. Ask experienced people for help. Keep learning. Handle with care and respect. Just saying - drums and percussion instruments are proper musical instruments, treat them as such!
THE BEST TIP WE CAN GIVE YOU
If in doubt, don't do it. Use your common sense and remember that even though most Samba percussion are street instruments or even made of metal, they are still musical instruments and deserve to be treated like one.
PLAY SAMBA - BE HAPPY.
Your Kalango Team