How To Tune a Native American Drum

How To Tune a Native American Drum

  • December 26,2020
  • Tachini Drums

If your drum’s tone is flat or high-pitched, it might need some adjustments. The same goes for rawhide that’s too loose or too tight. Not sure how to tune a Native American drum? This guide can teach you some quick, simple methods for sorting out your drum’s tone.

How Does Rawhide Work?

Native American drums tend to have a top, or head, constructed from rawhide. By its nature, rawhide shrinks or expands depending on the weather. In cold, moist, and humid weather, the rawhide expands. In hot and dry weather, the rawhide shrinks. If you’re looking to achieve the perfect tone, you’ll need to inspect your drum. Have a flat tone and loose rawhide? You’ll need a way of tightening it. One thing to note is that, during any heat-related process, you should never leave your drum unattended. Overheating your drum can permanently damage it.

Methods To Tune Your Drum

Now that we’ve got the basics down, let’s look at some methods for tuning your Native American drum.

Hair Dryer

This is the quickest, easiest way to turn your drum. Start in the center of the drum and work your way towards the edges. This method shouldn’t take more than a few minutes.

Heat Lamp

Another way to tune a Native American drum is with a heat lamp. Place the drum in front of the heat lamp and wait. The heating process should only take a few minutes. You should periodically play your drum to test the tone.

Fireplace or Heater

When you’re using this method, it’s important to place your drum a good distance away from the heat. If the fire feels hot on your hand, move your drum further away.


This is the preferred method of warming your drums. Place your drum away from the flame, as you would if you were using a fireplace or heater.

But what if your drum doesn’t need tightening? Its tone is high-pitched, and the rawhide is already tight. For this problem, there’s one simple solution: spritzing water onto the rawhide. Using a spray bottle, wet your drum a with small amount of water. Start in the middle and move outwards. Let the water seep in. Repeat this if necessary.

Other Factors That Affect Your Drum’s Tune

Of course, the weather isn’t the only thing that can affect your drum’s pitch. Other factors, such as its size and the thickness of its rawhide can impact what it sounds like. Unfortunately, these aren’t problems you can fix with heat or water: they’re things that need to be considered when you’re first selecting your drum.

If you’re looking for a new drum to add to your collection, look no further than Tachini Drums. We have authentic, handmade Native American drums and supplies for sale. Come look through our wide selection of drums and drum supplies, and let our products help connect you to the heartbeat of Mother Earth.

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