Saturday, June 28, 2008

Hank Drum Magnetic Tuning by Milltone

Larry, drum maker at Milltone Drums has demonstrated a new design using magnets to achieve a tunable Hank Drum. This is a very cool concept. He's finished his first drum and I believe that it'll be for sale on ebay soon. Here's a YouTube Video of his creation:

Friday, June 27, 2008

Mother of all Frame Drums

I need some help from the blog readers out there. I purchased what I am calling "the mother of all frame drums" (MOAFD) a few months ago. (See the picture to the right).
MOAFD started its life as a display unit at the local Guitar Center. Its dimensions are: 36" wide x 6" deep. The sound is OK with the current head (a plastic, single ply) but the graphic leaves a lot to be desired. Here's where I need your help...

I'd like to purchase and put a new head on it, but I am unsure which head material to select. First of all there isn't a lot of selection for a 36" orchestral size bass drum, but I do have some choices. I've never played bass drum nor drum kit before, so I don't have an appreciation for the subtleties of the different drum head choices. I am hoping that one of you has the experience to guide me in making my selection for a new drum head:

  • Ambassador
  • Fiberskyn
  • Renaissance
  • Other??

I want to play this drum with my hands, like a frame drum. So the question is which of these head material choices will provide the best sound, with the most overtones? I plan to tighten it pretty tight. I am thinking that timpani head would be good, but they don't make 'em this large.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Hank Drum Design Mistake

Don't Try This at Home!

I come before you humbled in this posting. I thought that I had a great idea to advance the design of the Hank Drum by accomplishing two goals:

1. Speed the cutting time for new drums.

2. Reduce the pain in @$$ cutting of the small curves in the tongues, and save blades lost when they break cutting the small curves.

So I sat down with Visio and designed a new tongue design which (on paper) seemed like a great idea. I borrowed the concept from woooden tongue drums which I have played in the past. In the picture to the left you can see the basic design, a large hole cut from the center and then the tongue cut back from there...

Well, the result was not what I expected at all...

From the picture on the right, you see the completed drum. BUT it doesn't sound great at all. After the initial removal of the hole in the center (5" in diameter) the drum sounded like a Tibetan Bowl!

Even after I cut the first tongue (the lowest D note) the drum sounded great. The low D note rang for a long time. But as soon as I cut the second tongue, the whole drum design went south... the addition of a second tongue confounded the first note and neither note sounds good. To complete the experiment I finished cutting the whole thing out. I did achieve one goal - the total cutting time was less than an hour!

My advice: don't waste $30 in this design direction. But I am going to salvage the tank by cutting out the tongues and getting back to that awesome sounding large Tibetan Bowl!

Check out the Hank Drum Collective:

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Mytunes MP3 Amp

This is the coolest external portable speaker device that I've seen. Runs with any type of MP3 player. Runs on batteries or USB power from your computer.

Looks like it's backordered until the end of June.


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

How to build a Hank Drum: Removing the Valve

I took a few photos during my last build. During this build I prepped 5 tanks, so I learned a bit about setting up a rig to help make value removal easier. Without the rig, I actually damaged the handle on the tank, because I put too much pressure on the wrench to attempt the removal. Here's a photo of a damaged tank, the arrow shows the warped area of the handle. I was able to remove the valve on this tank, once I experimented with, and created the rig. Remember to only attempt this with a new, never been filled tank.

What I engineered was a rig, using my Black and Decker portable workbench. I also used a tie-down strap with a tightening ratchet to hold the tank body in place. Final, I used a 12 inch adjustable wrench and a 1.25 inch diameter by 3 foot pipe extension for leverage on the wrench. This made the process a piece of cake. Note that I used a steel crow bar, secured in the workbench, to keep the tank from rotating.

I used the same rig to remove the metal bracket on the bottom of the tank. This part of the tank becomes the playing area.

Here's a view of the tools needed to remove the tank valve:

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Milltone Hank Drum Youtube Video

Here's a great video from Larry over at Milltone Drums, as he tours some of the design features on his new drum.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Hank Magic Video

Here's a short Hank Drum Video:

Sunday, June 08, 2008

The Hank Drum Collective Group site

I created a new online community called: The Hank Drum Collective

This online community is designed to enable discussion of all aspects of the Hank Drum. It includes online discussion groups, a calendar and file storage area to enable communication between members.

Membership is free, and you can browse the information without being a member.


Hank Drum tuning concerns

I am not sure if other Hank Drum builders are having similar issues, but I've noticed that the first Hank Drum that I built 2 months ago has gone out of tune. I was rechecking the tuning this weekend before painting it, and I noticed that all of the notes are about 10-15 cents flat.
When I built this drum, each note was dead on in tune. Now it appears that all of the notes have gone flat. It still plays well and sounds good, but I am concerned that it's out of tune and won't play well with my Native American Flutes.

Has anyone else experienced this?

A couple of thoughts that I have:

1. The drum has been unpainted since I built it. There has been some minor rust formed along the edges of the tongues and the area where the welds were removed.
2. The drum has spent a good part of it's life outside on my (covered) deck. It's get's played often.
3. I play primarity with super ball mallets rather than my hands.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Traditional Nigerian Udu Drum workshop with Frank Giorgini

by Frank Giorgini

Three-Day Workshop
July 12, 13 and 19, 2008

COST: $325.00 includes Tuition and Materials ($50.00 deposit required)

4425 County Route 67, Freehold, NY 12431
Tel: 518-634-2559 (or 1-800-UDU DRUM) Fax: 518-634-2559 or

Link for more info:

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Samavesha Hang Gathering Concert, Richmond CA

WHAT: Hang Concert featuring Alan Tower, Gary Muszynski, Matt Venuti, Kim Riccelli, Daniel Tucker, Jessica Styler and other special guests.
WWHEN: Saturday, June 14, 2008
TIME: 7:30 PM

Samavesha Space
6115 Bernhard Ave
Richmond, CA 94805 (10 minutes from Berkeley on I-80)
Doors open: 7pm
Show: 7:30pm
Suggested Donation: $15-$20
For reservations call 415.568.1393


Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Hicks Sticks Didgeridoos to reopen

I just heard from Ben Hicks, and after an extended period of refocus he is going to continue producing didgeridoos. During this period, Ben took down his website and stopped producing didge's for sale. I am fortunate to own one of Ben's "Sticks", and I am happy to hear that he'll soon be making them again.

Ben explains it all on his webpage:

Ben lost his email / newsletter list to a hard drive crash last summer, so even if you were on the previous email list, you'll need to resubscribe.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Alternative Hank Drum Tuning Configurations

I had a busy weekend experimenting and building several Hank Drums from propane tanks. I am busy editing all of the video footage that I took, in order to create a "How To" video which I'll be posting on YouTube soon. I prepped a total of 5 tanks this weekend (removing the values and the metal foot, and grinding down the welds). Along the way, I learned and mastered several time saving techniques to improve the speed of the work. You'll be able to see the rig that I created for holding the tanks while removing the values. This is the biggest pain, and once I figured it out, it became simple enough that I can have the value off the tank in under 2 minutes.

The other key piece of advice is that you must have a portable grinder to remove the welds from the bottom (playing surface) of the tank. Unfortunately, the tanks that I bought were made by an overzealous welder during manufacturing. Each weld (four all together) was about 1/2 of metal attached to the tanks. I ground the first tank with a file - needless to say it took over an hour and a half...

The next day, I borrowed a portable grinder (the type used for autobody work) from my brother in law, and I was able to grind the remaining four tanks in under an hour total. The trick here is to not let the powered grinder dig into the surface of the tank to produce any 'channels'. It's impossible to clean those up, so stop short of the final grind and finish with a file.

In the meantime, I discovered one new tuning idea with Dennis Havlena's original tuning configuration. I had emailed Dennis after my first build, because the highest two notes (the C and the F, next to the low D "ding" note) didn't have great ring or sound. My theory was that they were too close to the center, and didn't have a stable base to ring appropriately. Thus, I theorized that moving them outward from Dennis's original plans would make them sound better. Indeed, my first drum that I built this weekend, I moved both of these notes out towards the perimeter of the body by almost an inch. The result was perfect, with both of these notes provided much better clarity and ring.

Here's an illustration of Dennis's original configuration (in D Minor Pentatonic)

The second drum that I built this weekend has a different tuning, still in the key of D minor Pentatonic, but with a different configuration of notes that I had proposed in my prior Blog posting:

The notes are (lowest to highest):

D F G A C D* F* G* *octave

The drum which I made using the following configuration came out really nice. I'll post pictures and a YouTube video, as soon as it final tuned and finished (Iater this week). The different configuration of notes has a different vibe. I think that it brings out different songs, and since it matches the tuning of a Native American Flute, it'll be really nice to play along with.

Link to Dennis's plans: