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Care of Drums:
It is best to give your drum the consideration that you might give an infant. Keep it cool and dry. Don't leave it in a hot car. If you must, place it in the trunk wrapped in a blanket or protective carry bag. (I make these too.) The wood is air dried, and if subjected to high heat it could develop check cracks and over dry. Heat will also tighten the skin, sometimes to the point of splitting. Not good. Keep it out of the rain. Moisture weakens the skin. Keep a dry towel with your drum. It can serve to save it in case of unexpected rain, children, sun, and riots. A quality padded travel bag will pay for itself by saving maintained costs.

About drum heads:
The skin on the top of the drums are generally all produced from African goats. They raise the goats for food, and employ the skins for leather goods as well as rawhide. Skins are available that have all the hair removed in processing, but I mostly use skins with the hair on. Skins with spots and dark patches are rare and special.

 After I have stretched the skin onto the drum and allowed it to dry, I remove the hair from the skin. First I use an electric clipper to take off the long hair, then I finish shaving it clean with a small curved knife. The markings and patterns left on the skin are created whilst shaving the skin.  No two are exactly alike, and you'll find the patterns vary widely.

As for how long the skin will last on your drum; usually they will last 1 to 5 years. While I have had some last 10 and 12 years, that is a bit rare. The life of the head is dependant mainly upon how tight the drum is, and how hard it is played. Great tension brings amazing volume, but shortens life.

Putting oil on your drum skin has several effects.  Playing on an un-oiled drum head will tend to remove the oils from your hands and dry them out. It is perfectly Ok to not oil the skin, but applying some oil to the drum head will help to reduce its' sensitivity to humidity, and help keep your hands in good shape.  For humidity, lanolin is the best oil to use.  Get the liquid stuff (which is quite thick) and cut it with 25-50% sweet almond oil. A couple drops of tea tree oil mixed in won't hurt either. Spread a medium thin layer to the inside first, working around from edge to edge. Then the outside. Warming the skin up a bit will help the oil soak in. (sun, hair dryer. Don't over do it) After that you ought to wait a day, then tune it up again. For your hands,  two things feel real good on them when drumming: shea butter, and straight vitamin E squeezed from the capsule. Both will keep your hands in good shape and are good for the drum too. Give the E a try. It is ever so silky.

Ropes:
Quality rope is essential for accurate tuning and to maintain tension. The rope is used to tension and tune the drum head. By pulling the vertical ropes over each other with a horizontal piece of rope, tension is increased. A diagram of this process can be found here along with an instructional video.
I use several different types of rope depending on the application. Some rope is 100% double braided Dacron polyester rope, which is quite strong, and wears well. Recently though, I swapped to an expensive custom construction employing several different types of fibers. Drum rope needs to have some give to it so that when the skin and wood move with the humidity, the rope has the necessary elasticity to absorb the movement. Don't be fooled by "zero stretch" hype, or that it is alpine or marine rope. Using rope that is too rigid just has you having to constantly tune up, and can shorten the life of the skin.  Using rope that is too thick can also cause difficulties.

I  use a thinner rope f
or the rope that is laced onto the steel rings. This smaller diameter rope was designed for use as high tension guy wires, on antenna masts. It is tough stuff, and it needs to be. With its smaller size, it needs to take the tension from the pull of the heavier vertical ropes.  This smaller diameter rope also saves your hands from damage whilst hitting the edge of your drum.