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  • Writer's pictureNathan Coles

How To Change A Tambourine Head

Updated: Mar 11

Replacing a tambourine head might seem like a daunting task, but with the right guidance and a little patience, it's a skill any percussionist can master. Whether you're a seasoned pro or a novice, our step-by-step instructions, coupled with essential tips, will ensure your tambourine is back in action in no time.

how to replace your tambourine head


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THR-10 instructions
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Preparation:

Before diving into the replacement process, it's crucial to prepare both your tambourine and replacement head properly. Here's what you'll need and how to get started:


What You Need:


  • A brand new calf/goat/kangaroo head

  • A rubber band or hose clamp

  • Glue: We recommend Elmer’s Wood Glue or Titebond Wood Glue.

  • Wood putty (if necessary) & sand paper

  • A helper: Having an extra set of hands can make the process smoother.


Consider a tambourine head kit for your replacement. This will provide you with a new calf skin head and a rubber band for the installation. Glue and a helper are not included.



 

Preparing the Shell:

1. Remove the old head

  • If the tambourine head is still attached, you will need to soak the head in water for a about an hour to loosen the head and glue from the shell.

2. Remove remaining glue residue.

  • A corse 80 grit sand paper will remove any large spots of glue residue.

3. Fill any large holes with wood putty and sand smooth.

  • You may have sections of the shell that have chipped off during the head removal. Fill these sections in with wood putty. After that, sand the shell smooth with fine 150+ grit sand paper.

removing excess glue and residue from an old tambourine head

4. Tape the Shell

  • Wrap masking tape around the perimeter of the shell, just below where the head will be glued, and just above the jingles. Leave 1/2 to 5/8 of an inch bare at the top of the shell for gluing.


Mounting the Head:

1. Orientation and Soaking:

  • Take your new tambourine head and mark which side you would like the top to be. Selecting the rougher side of the head as your top will make for better performance and added friction to the head for finger/thumb rolls.

  • Soak the new head in warm water for about 45 minutes to an hour to get the head nice and floppy.

A floppy calf skin tambourine head after soaking in water

  • Before removing the head from the water, spread a thin layer of glue on the shell's side and top. Do not leave gaps, and do not over-apply the glue.

applying glue to a tambourine shell for a new head replacement

2. Placing the Head:

  • Remove the head from the water and place on a towel. Pat dry any excess water from the head and position it (top up) on the shell.

  • With assistance from your helper, stretch a rubber band or hose clamp over the head, securing it around the perimeter of the shell. Ensure the band is below the lip of the shell to prevent it from popping off.

mounting a new calf skin head on a tambourine with a rubber band

3. Adjusting Tension and Drying:

  • Pull out any wrinkles on the playing surface of the head and beneath the rubber band.

  • Monitor the drying process, keeping the glued portion under the rubber band moist. Use a damp towel to slow drying if needed.

  • If the top dries too quickly, it will pull the head off the shell before the sides dry.

  • Let it dry for 24 hours or more before removing the rubber band.

4. Final Touches:

  • Before cutting off excess head material, ensure it's neither too tight nor too loose.

  • If you've made a mistake or find the head tension to not be suitable for your instrument, don't worry! You can remove and remount the head by soaking it in water until the glue loosens. You can repeat this process as many times as you need to get the head mounted properly.

5. Cutting the Excess:

  • Lay the tambourine head down on a smooth table and use a utility knife to cut a straight line to remove the excess head.

  • You may need to shim the knife for accuracy.


 

Congratulations! You've successfully replaced your tambourine head. With these instructions and a bit of practice, you'll be able to maintain your instrument with confidence. Remember, patience and attention to detail are key. Now, go ahead and enjoy the vibrant sounds of your revitalized tambourine!


Further Instruction For How To Change A Tambourine Head:

Below are several video tutorials on how to change your tambourine head.







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