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Conga Maintenance

Conga Maintenance

Conga drums are quite strong and stable and do not normally require a lot of maintenance. Conga heads are usually made of cowhide or water buffalo hide and are quite thick and strong. Mule hide is said to be the best natural material for conga heads, and is also quite thick and strong.

For this reason and the relatively low head tension used to tune the drums, conga drums, unlike bongos, do not usually need to be de-tuned after use unless you plan to put them in long-term storage. However, if you have tuned the heads up a lot due to damp weather, you should probably de-tune them afterwards so they won't be damaged if the weather suddenly turns hot and dry

Conga heads are raw hide and typically do not need to be treated with any oils or preservatives. It is a common beginner mistake to think that conga heads should be oiled.  It is the player's HANDS that are oiled.  To treat heads, only the excess oil that might reside on your hands after treating your hands should be used on the drumheads by rubbing your hands over the surfaces.  Usually lanolin is used on the hands when the heads are treated this way.

To clean and preserve the rest of the drum typical wood and metal polish products work well. To restore used drums, automotive chrome cleaner works well to remove rust and corrosion from metal parts. Dow "scrubbing bubbles" bathroom cleaner is excellent for removing gunk and fingerprints of all kinds from the shell, especially that funky dive bar smell. But you do not want to get water on any exposed unvarnished wood. However, for usual after-gig maintenance, I just wipe down the metal and shell with a Silicone Gun and Reel cloth obtainable at any sporting goods store.  Just keep one in the pouch of your conga bag. The silicone removes fingerprints and protects metal parts against the corrosive acid in sweat.





Articles by this Author:

Conga Notation
BOX NOTATION We will be using what has become more or less a standard "tablature" notation for hand-drums. A measure or two of the rhythmic pattern is divided into boxes where each box represents an eighth...
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Finishing a Drum Shell
Finishing the Shell: Once the bearing edges are cut you can either drill the shell for lugs or apply the finish to it. I prefer to finish the shell first since the lug holes tend to cause problems...
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How Many Conga Rhythms?
This is a sort of fun question. Consider playing a snare drum in a drumset. If we divide a measure of 4/4 music into 1/8th notes, in our box notation we will have 8 boxes to fill. Since generally a snare...
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Conga RudimentsConga Rudiments
Hand-drum players who also play drumset or marching snare will be familiar with a set of drum strokes known as rudiments (rude-uh-ments). These are the basic strokes for the snare drum of which there...
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