FAQ

 

I very much appreciate that so many of you ask questions because it allows me to share my culture and history, and it allows you to make an informed purchase.  Here are a few of the most common questions that I am often asked:

 

  • Why is there a big difference in price for drums?

Materials and construction.  A cow/bull hide costs significantly less ($80./$90.) than elk ($250.) or buffalo ($350.-$400.) hide; keep in mind that a cow is larger than an elk, affecting cost as well in getting more cow hide for less cost.

Every wooden hoop is made from maple hardwood veneers; We revere the maple tree as the “Chief of Trees”; Hoops made out of layered hardwood veneers (see photo) most closely resembles the traditional process of using a horizontally-cut solid piece of wood that had the core burned out.  Using veneers most closely resembles the original wisdom of the tree rings, and wastes less of the tree from the cutting and burning process which provides more wood.  Veneer hoops are more time-consuming, and produce a more balanced and stable construction resulting with a better resonant sound, compared to segmented block ‘biscuit joint’ pieces of wood that have been wedged, nailed, or glued together.

 

  • What is the difference in elk or buffalo hide drums compared to cow hide?

Both the elk and the buffalo are native natural animals to our geographical location, and cows are not.  Therefore, elk and buffalo hide are traditional Native American materials and the wood for the hoops are from maple trees in our area as well; more importantly, the trees and animals from which the materials come from have great cultural spiritual significance.  Many people who I talk to use my drums for drum circles, meditation, or other shamanic/spiritual/sacred practices, and this reason is important to them.

 

  • How can I tell if a drum is made of good quality?
  1. Look for a hoop that is round in shape, not a segmented octagon or ‘biscuit joint’,
  2. Notice if the hide is transparent:  if you place your hand on one side of the drum head (hide/skin) and can clearly see your hand from the other side, then it is cow hide.  Cow hide is thicker than elk and buffalo, and is shaved thinner to mimic that of elk or buffalo.  Thinner hide is more transparent.
  3. When you play a quality drum, you should physically feel its resonant vibration on your core.  If you only hear the sound and not feel it, then it probably is not elk or buffalo hide.

 

  • Can you paint a custom design on a drum?

Yes, if I have time.  Contact me and I will let you know my availability at that time.

 

  • What size drum is better?

It depends on your personal preferences:  How often will you play it?  If you are holding it for a long period of time, then you may prefer a smaller lighter drum; yet a smaller drum will have a less bass sound.  What kind of an event will you use it for?  Will you be sitting or standing?  If you are in a drum circle, standing-up for an hour or more, then a 16” may be too heavy depending on your strength.  How long are you comfortable with holding it for?  Overall, I think the 16” diameter has the best sound for the size, and if you really like a particular sound, regardless of size, then I suggest more practice to increase your skill and comfort level.

 

  • What should I look for when purchasing a drum?
  1. A completely round hoop,
  2. If you are interested in an elk or buffalo hide drum, then it should be mostly opaque (not see through) to translucent hide; it will allow some light to pass through if held up to a light source, but you should not be able to clearly see through it,
  3. Elk and buffalo hide have markings that cow hide does not have,
  4. If you are interested in a cow hide drum, then it should cost significantly less than an elk or buffalo hide drum of the same size diameter,
  5. Be sure to pay an appropriate price for what you are getting in materials and construction.

 

  • Why is there a big difference in price for flutes?

The biggest difference in price is due to differences in construction.  All of my flutes are hand-made by me according to traditional method that was passed from my ancestors, which is by hand-boring and carving one solid piece of wood.

There are two other methods of creating flutes, neither of which are traditional processes that will create a very similar sound:

    • One way is to cut a piece of wood down the length, each side is grooved with a router (center removed), air flow holes are added, and then glued back together.  This method is:  easier, should cost less, and will be noticeable by a glued seam down each side of the flute.  This two-pieced flute will affect the sound in that the ‘cut and glued’ crack will dampen the sound which prevents the flute from aging and curing in a positive way.  A one-piece flute over time will sound better and increase its value with age.
    • Another way uses computer technology software and a laser cutter or mechanical knife for construction where data is entered into a program and the laser or knife shapes the wood.  This method is:  easier, machine-made, should cost less, and by not being hand-made will look perfectly cut.

Thank you for reading my FAQ’s. There is information here that will help you understand my products and those that are machined, or made more cheaply and less traditionally. My hand crafted work is completely guaranteed… repaired or replaced for you during my lifetime.

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