If the skin on your Doumbek has a tear or has come loose and you need to replace it, here is how to do it.
Take off the old head by soaking the drum upsidedown in a pan of water just above the edge of the skin. Carefully remove the old skin. If you plan to use the same skin leave it in the water. Clean the shell of excess glue.
The skin should soak in the water 2-3 days. If the old skin has a re-enforced edge try to copy it.
Tie a strong 1/4" thick cord around the waist of the drum. The lacing is #18 gauge cotton cable cord. Punch or burn small holes 1/2" from the edge of the skin and about an inch apart and start lacing. Go around the thick cord and through the skin all the way around loosely. After you finish lacing turn the drum upside down on a towel and squeeze a bit of Elmer's white, water resistant glue under the edge. Turn it over and start pulling gently, careful not to tear the holes! Keep the head wet. Pull on the skin as you tighten the lace, taking up the slack. Do this about 3-4 times. The skin should be taut. With a wet sponge or towel on the playing surface use a hair dryer to dry the glued area as quickly as possible. When the glued area is dry, take off the sponge and put the drum in a shaded dry place. Wait twelve hours and play gently.
If you are using a fishskin head, fabric sewed to the skin will more evenly distribute the tension and is a better method. You can machine stitch fabric around the edge of a new skin before soaking it. Fishskin should be soaked overnight and needs to be handled more carefully than goatskin and not pulled as tight. The diameter of the skin should be 4" larger than the opening of the drum which means that you will have a finished 2" overlap from the opening.
Cut a strip of muslin about 2 1/4" wide and long enough to go around the drum skin plus some overlap to stitch the circle closed. Hem the bottom edge. Machine stitch the muslin on the reverse side onto the skin. It's a little tricky so stitch carefully since you don't want to go back and rip if you make a mistake - the extra needle holes will weaken the skin. Stitch the circle closed, cut off the excess and fold the muslin right side out. The finished strip should be about 1" wide.This procedure creates a dome shape that fits over the drum and with the bottom edge hemmed it creates a neat finished appearance. Tie a circle of heavier cord, like clothes line, around the narrowest part of the drum. Use a sail needle to attach the string to the muslin and loop over and under to the bottom circle of cord all the way around. It takes time to loop it so you don't want to put glue under the skin until you finish looping. Turn the drum upside down on a towel, put in the glue and proceed as above.
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