How to choose a shamanic drum

How to choose a shamanic drum.

When you want to find your own drum, it can be easy. Often it is love at first sight or beat. When you want to make your drum or you have specific wishes, there are a lot of things to consider, like what sound you prefer, the weight of the drum, size, wood, skin etc… Many people have seen there drum already in a journey, then it’s a matter of finding someone who can supply all the materials.

Let’s start with the frame.

First you can choose the type of wood, not all wood is suitable for steambending, but then there are other solutions as well. If you have a certain tree that you have always felt attracted to, that will be a good choice. Or you can look up the properties of the trees if you have a specific intention for your drum.
Besides wood, you can also choose a shape, round, oval or eggshaped, or work with numbers if the frame is made of segments, like 13 moonframe.
If you will drum for a long time, it is also importand to consider the weight. Cedar for example is a very light wood.
Some of the possibilities are oak, ash, elm, beech, maple, yew, cedar, cherry, walnut.

The skin.

Same question, which animal does appeal to you, or maybe you would prefer a vegan skin. The sound is different for each hide, but also depends on the size of the drum, the thickness of the skin, with or without the fur. And last but not least the tension.
The thinner the skin, the higher the sound, a thin reindeer skin can almost sound metallic, where a very thick bison skin will give a totally different sound. As said before, always good to go out and listen to a couple of drums when you can.
Of course the energy of each animal is different as well. The ‘earthy’ animals, like wild boar and bison, the horse which is really a great travel companion and will take and guide you everywhere. Then the deer with the antlers, reaching out to higher worlds.
The possibilities for skins: Moose, reindeer, deer, (red, fallow or roedeer), horse, goat, bison, wild boar.

How the drum is made.

The drum can be tunable or traditional/fixed. When you can change the tension of the drum, you have much more change of having the sound you prefer, you love to work with. With a fixed drum, you can’t change that, when you are outside in the sun on a lovely summer day, you will end up with a very high pitched drum, with wet weather your drum will loose sound. You can work with some water or fire of course, not totally without risk.
Many ways and styles to make a tradiotional drum are possible, the native american styles, mongolian drums, wind drum (qilaut), siberian style, the skandinavian way, and well you can really use your imagination to create your own drum.
If you choose to have or make a tunable drum, there are also many possibilities, specially for the handle. It can be with a gemstone, or a piece of wood of antler, maybe something really personal that you want to be part of your drum.
The really thicker (parts of) the skin are not always suitable for a tunable drum.

Make your own drum?

There is always the choice to make your own drum or have it made for you. Do realise that it can be hard work, depending on how much you would like to do yourself. Many drummakers offer the possibility to make a drum in one day, then the frame and skin are ready, sometimes even the wholes are already made. Other offer that you can work on the skin and the frame, do some cleaning and sanding, and you can already connect with the materials. However if you are not used to work with your hands, it is really hard work, just be aware and prepared.

The beater

Half the sound of your drum comes from the beater, they can be hard of soft, with two heads (works very well with a thick skin), the choice of the material, just leather, or fur, or half fur half leather. This really makes a big difference, and often when people are not happy with their drum, another beater might make a big change.


Whatever your choice is, the endproduct won’t be the end. Once made, and being played, the energy will change. Like with cooking, the sum of the ingredients will create some magic, and the drum will be more and more yours, the beginning of a life long journey.