Caring For Your Drum

Your drum is a living being, so you will want to honor its spirit with love and respect.  It is important to work “with” rather than “on” your drum and it will teach you much!

Store it wrapped, face up, or hanging on a wall in a warm, dry place.  Keep it from extremes in temperature like direct sunlight, and away from gas or oil heat sources which can dry the skin and possibly split the head.  Never get the drum too close to a fire or radiator.  Never leave it in a hot car.

The natural law of skin drums is water expands and heat constricts.  In a dry, desert climate, you can spray water on the drum or place a slightly damp cloth or paper towel on the drumhead before you wrap it in a towel or drum case.  When it is hot, cool it slowly.  You can bring the tone down (loosen) by spraying water on the drumhead, up (tighten) by using the heat from a hair dryer about 12” from the drumhead.

When it is damp or humid you can protect the tone by storing your drum in wool, cotton or one of our custom drum bags.  When it is cold, warm it gradually.

Be patient if you need to restore your drum’s tone before playing.  It takes time to adjust the tone with water or heat.

You can clean your drum by rubbing gently with a slightly damp cloth.  You can keep the drum skin conditioned and from drying out by using Shea butter (we sell this product) or a natural oil or saddle soap on the head and lacing.

Protect your drum head by keeping it wrapped, face up, never setting anything on it.  If you would like to make a painted design more permanent, you can spray the head with an artists’ matte fixative.

If your drum ever needs repair, call us at (877) 34 DRUMS.


  • Please follow these simple instructions to make sure your drum stays safe and sound.
  • NEVER leave your drum in a hot car unprotected.
  • Carry water and spray your drum often or put a damp washcloth inside your drum to insure that it doesn’t get too tight.
  • Remember the Natural Law of Skin (and Life):  Heat constricts, water expands – when the drum gets too tight it will split or the rim will collapse or warp.  When the drum is too damp, the skin will loosen and go flat.  Use heat to tighten and water to loosen the drum head.
  • Store your drum in a drum case when not in use.
  • NEVER put your drum in direct sunlight.
  • A coating of Shea Butter or other leather conditioner will keep it from drying out and protect it from cracking or splitting over time.


We take loving care of what we hold as sacred, and both you and the drum are sacred.  You treat your drum as you would a nurtured little one, avoiding extremes in temperature changes.  The natural law for skin is that heat constricts and water expands so if the drum gets too dry, it will tighten and either will crush the rim, break the lacings or split the drumhead.  If you are storing the drum, keep it wrapped with blankets.  If you are in dry conditions you can place a large damp towel over the drum so that moisture gets to each side of the drum.  Once the towel is placed, cover the drum and towel with a blanket to protect it.

The artificial gas heat in the winter is hard on drums, so it is recommended that the drum stay covered during the winter months when not in use.

Many Natives of the Northwest have a “keeper of the drum”, or a person that is in charge of seeing the drum is taken care of.  I have treated the drum with a product called Shea butter.  This keeps the leather conditioned and it is much less likely to get dry and brittle, which will cause splits.

Thanks and Blessings, Patrick