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Thread: Bongo - Tuning.

  1. #1

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    Default Bongo - Tuning.

    Hey!

    I'm new to this forum, also am I new to playing percussion. I have recently bought a pair of Meinl Headliner bongos (pictured below). And after detuning to release the stress on the heads after playing, I can't seem to get them back into tune. I'm not the best at detecting a note myself and have to rely on a tuner most the time (still learning), but I'm finding that there is a nasty resonant noise sustaining when playing.

    I've been relying on YouTube videos and such for guidance and I can't seem to tell whether I'm tuning them too high or too low and i'm worried that they might snap. If anyone could give me a walkthrough of how to tune a bongo from scratch (removing the head and putting back on) then that would be great.

    Thanks!


  2. #2

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    Default Re: Bongo - Tuning.

    If you are getting a lot of resonance, it is probably not too high. My LP Matador bongos are cranked super tight and there are no annoying overtones.
    One thing you could try is getting synthetic heads for your bongos. They are expensive compared to drum set heads, but the Remo Fiberskyns really do sound good once you get used to tuning them. You can crank them high and you don't have to tune them down after you're finished playing, and they are much less likely to snap at high tensions.
    It may also be because the lugs are not in tune with each other, so there are a lot of tones clashing together. Tap near each tuning lug and see if the pitch is even around all of them. If not, adjust until they are, then tune up or down evenly as required. I got tired of doing this and just bought synthetic heads.

  3. #3

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    Default Re: Bongo - Tuning.

    Hi I have this exact problem. I had a set of Meinl Fiberglass Headliners, they played fine for a while, then they started having terrible ringing. I assumed the heads were terrible so I went back to get new heads, they had none so I upgraded to LP City Bongos. I played them fine for about a month then I started getting that same ringing. At that point I knew I was doing something wrong. After finding out I was suppose to detune natural heads I assumed I ruined them. I went online to buy synthetic heads and found out they don't make them in 6' and 7'. So I took those back and returned them for Meinl Headliner Wood.

    First thing I noticed about their buffalo heads is that they sounded like trash can lids. First day I had them I took them apart to take a look at the construction of the bongos. Once I put them back together I got the macho in tune but the hembra wouldn't tune. I think when I put it back together, I tuned it less that one rotation before I realized it was off center. I spent 2 hours last night trying to tune them. I gave up on them already and ordered synthetic heads, which I feel like I shouldn't have had to.

    So please enlighten me. I love playing them. I have a small apartment and play them in my car. I don't want to give up. But there really isn't enough information anywhere. One guy has 4 of the same tuning videos of the most basic information. The other guy suggests hitting the heads with your palm. No one seems to address this problem, yet I've had it with all 3 bongos. Are these heads really that sensitive? I'm not new to tuning, I built a custom designed damped drum set.

    Checklist,
    Detune natural heads. How far? Should you also detune synthetic?
    Is making sure you have equal distance down the lugs important? I seen someone say that they count the threads.
    Finger tight, can you screw this up by tightening one too far before the others?
    Tuning circle or cross does it matter? I tighten them a quarter turn
    Oil on the rim, is this important? Also heard of people submerging the play side in something, what does this do?
    Muffling tape, will this help?
    And tapping at the lugs. On drums I put a finger in the middle then tap with my tuning key. With bongos I have a wretch. I tapped them, they were all even and still sounded like ****. Is this easier to do at higher or lower tension. How far away should I be from the rim?
    Why do LP City Bongos sound so much better than these Meinl? Is it just the heads? They seem to be the same construction.

    Please help, I love them, I want to be my main instrument. Who knows if I'll ever get a chance to play a full size drum set again. Even if I do I'd still play them.
    Thanks for reading.

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