You can tune the drum easily in a few minutes using a small 7/16" end wrench. Loosen the thread protection caps and tighten the drum head by turning the tuning nut (just above the brass sleeve) on each hook by not more that 1/4 of a turn. Do this around the entire drum. Repeat the process again if you want the head tighter.
How tight is tight? It's difficult for me to explain in words. The skin is very strong and it should be stretched so there is only a slight depression when you press down at the center of the drum with your index finger. Just don't go overboard as the hardware is strong enough to allow you to break the Skin.
You will know, I think, when your adjustment is in there. There is that point when you can feel and hear the drum come alive.
My best advice, if you are a beginner and not sure is to find a hand drummer in the neighborhood to help you the first time. My drums are shipped ready to play. However, if you are in an area with high humidity you may have to tighten the drum a little more.
Notice if you have a professional Djembe' drummer helping you, he/she may tighten your drum way too tight trying to make your drum sound just like a Djembe'. My drums are not Djembe's but the large diameter drums can approach their sounds but much more and with less tension in the skin.
Well, this part is really up to you! I did want to comment on a good position for playing my 24 inch tall drums. You should sit upright and slightly forward on a straight backed chair or stool which is about standard height. Place the drum between your knees resting the drum on the floor. Then tilt the top away from you (or the bottom of the drum towards you) so your forearms and hands (held straight) are approximately parallel to the drum head. This is the least tiring position I know of for playing hours at a time.
The drum has to be tilted to get the full bass sounds. The bass sounds will be muffled a bit if you are on a carpeted floor. The best sounds are generated on a hardwood floor. If you are playing on a hard surface you need to protect the bottom edge of the drum (and the floor). A small 2x3 inch clipping from a computer mouse pad, or a yoga mat works great and doesn't slip. My drums come with a no slip pad.
You can also lay the drum horizontally on your lap and play it in the same style you would play an eastern Doumbek drum. Also, you can get some awesome bass sounds by moving one arm in and out through the bottom of the drum shell.
Warning-Take all your rings off before playing Hitting the hide at the rim of the drum with a ring is similar to a rock hitting the windshield. A tiny crack will soon propagate across the drum head.
You can also configure a shoulder strap for playing the drum standing. I thread one end of the strap around the top of the drum behind the tuning hooks and tie the other end around the hourglass neck of the drum shell.
There aren't really any rules here folks. Discover your own sounds and rhythms. Just enjoy!!!
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