This year’s tabla maintenance

I just turned vegan a few weeks ago and I’m enjoying the change in diet. It’s a shame I can’t extend my new veganism to the tablas I play but sadly there have been no alternative materials found to even come close to the sound from traditional tabla design. So goat and leather it is then.

Although I have tried to experiment with the strap material at least. I heard about the amazing qualities of Vectran through David Yovino’s website (Transtabla) and that seemed like a great choice for strap. Unfortunately I can’t find it anywhere on the web except on the Transtabla site and after shipping costs that seemed prohibitively expensive. So I did some searches and found a polyester alternative.

David says on his site that polyester has much less stretch than polypropylene so I chose the polyester webbing. I could only find it on one site and bought 20 metres. Sadly, it didn’t work out on the dayan I reskinned. It just wasn’t strong enough and did stretch quite a bit. I should have noted that the material is in fact 75% polyester and 25% cotton. So the stretch is probably mostly from the cotton. Oh well. Anyway, here are some photos from the reskinned tabla where I returned to using traditional rawhide and then the bayan using the polyester webbing, which I will probably swap out because again, I don’t seem to be getting enough tension.

Shivji very kindly sent me these skins and the dayan sounds good after much pulling (I can never quite believe how much pulling is required!) and the bayan will need redoing before I can get a good idea of the sound quality but I’m sure it will be great once I get it right!

Update: More pulling caused the webbing to break and shred at the last 6 inches where I was going to tie off. I knotted on another section and tightened from there and after lots more pulling the bayan is starting to sound resonant. Not so much sustain but I think once worn in it will sound great.

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