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S.Cutshall

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Reply with quote  #1 
**This is a long post so please excuse me**

As I have said earlier, in another thread, David Yovino at VNO Designs/TransTabla is a real pleasure to speak with and interact with... and after longing for one particular Daya that he had on his website I emailed him a kind of "In another lifetime I would love to be able to buy that #42 TransTabla!" plea in a perverse hope that he would reply back that it was sold... no such luck, he replied that it was still available!


I poured my wife a nice glass of wine later that evening when she arrived home from work and broached the subject. The wine must have worked because the next day I was able to Paypal David an initial deposit so he could ship #42 from Indiana -where it was on display at a drum shop- back to California for him to inspect it & check it over thoroughly before then shipping it on up to me in Oregon.

After receiving an "All Go, drum is in perfect condition" from David less than a week later, I Paypal'd him the rest of the balance, and along with an add-on of one of his beautiful and functional hammers, the ball was rolling.

Less than an hour after payment I received an email from UPS with the tracking number and date of arrival (not many businesses in my 51 years on this planet are this efficient!).

I plugged the tracking number into my UPS App for iPhone and pretty much checked it every hour for the next day and a half -- my wife and daughter excused my strange behavior because, well, they know me and I knew they knew I was beyond excited about this particular delivery!

The day of delivery was a Bataan Death March for me... I awoke way too early, checked my App--saw that the package was out for delivery, couldn't fall back asleep so I got up, made coffee, and went and sat outside on our porch: 8AM when I know from past deliveries our UPS guy never shows before 2PM. Any time I needed to go inside (bathroom, breakfast, dishes, etc) I would fly!!

Amazingly, maybe by pure mindful force of thought, the UPS truck arrived out in front at 12 Noon!!

Okay, I'll shut up for now and begin the pictorial (but follow up with some closing thoughts down below)...

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The packing was exceptional (had a feel very similar to when I open an Apple product... my 15 year old daughter was with me as I unboxed the Daya and commented, "Dad, really, this isn't from some large, high end, business with lots of employees?" -owing to her level of being impressed with the packing, organization and general intuitive feel for moving from one item to the next to the next within the box--all by David).
On the very top of the contents of the box, an envelope with his business card and page of setup instructions for the Daya... all very thoughtfully laid out for a new user/customer.

The quality of the Daya, the head, the straps, the tuning mechanism, the tuning wrench and hammer are 101% first rate. Everything, and I mean Every Thing, has a look and feel of amazing quality... the machining of the TransTabla wrench is impeccable along with its heft, the tuning hammer--the same, the tuning mechanism underneath the drum is a marvel to look at and touch.

But none of this means squat with a musical instrument unless it delivers, so...
The Sound:
Thrilling, Gorgeous, Warm, Sonorous, Crystalline and rings like a beautiful Bell.

After staring at the drum for 30 minutes or so, I pulled out my harmonic tuner and the Daya was at a spot-on B. I thought this odd as I know from David's YouTube channel he ships TransTablas tuned down to a papery "Sploink" to avoid any mishaps with the head while in shipping and when I corresponded with David later that day it just so happened that he told me what I kind of assumed... he didn't tune it completely down because of the short distance between him, in Northern California, and me, in Oregon. Best though... he said he tuned it to a B (even before I mentioned the principal note of the head to him!) prior to wrapping the drum in bubblewrap and boxing it up. So 2.5 days later, some 628 miles, countless "Hand-Offs" between UPS employees, daytime & night time temperatures on different trucks, and it shows up still pinpoint accurate on a B!!

The interesting part for me, speaking to playing the actual drum... I have been playing tabla, really dabbling in tabla (a small handful of lessons over the past 22 years while working full time as a jazz drummer in New York City), in a concentrated manner for only the past 6 weeks (taking weekly lessons and pretty much practicing 3-4 hours daily) essentially on a set of mid-level tabla that I bought from a former student at Ali Akbar who had relocated to NYC and was importing tabla into the States from India. So what I have been using for all those sporadic 22 years, and now--past 6 weeks, were what I assumed was as good as tabla got (give or take a couple dollars more for the bump from mid-level to concert grade). My god was I mistaken.
By comparison the TransTabla, not even factoring in its given pluses (the tuning system-ease of tuning/reheading; the no-stretch factor of the Vectran straps), is a Stradivarius visually and sonically when played A/B against my 22 year old Daya.
Almost comically, but seriously though, when playing the TransTabla I sounded horrid at first while the drum sounded great! Why? How? My old Daya, unbeknownst to me truthfully, was (and is) a beast to play but I had totally acclimated to its beastly ways. "NA", on my old drum, was like smacking an enemy with contempt (but I thought this was completely normal) whereas #42 (the TransTabla) responds to the slightest of caresses. Also, my TransTabla has a tuning range from A to D (whoa!) owing to the beautiful Calcutta head David paired with it whereas my other Daya has a much thicker head (I don't know its origins other than a sticker that says Bombay with Hindi words around it) and seems most comfortable at C only (and loves going sharp when it's not going flat).
Anyway, what I am saying is the TransTabla feels like sitting in a perfectly tuned Lamborghini compared to what I had grown accustomed to, a farting Studebaker.

I am thrilled with this fine instrument and fully intend to have David retrofit Daya's down the road for me (as I acquire additional drums), and if I can remember what wine I served my wife that night, hopefully buy additional full-on TransTabla's from him (the #39 6" Rosewood on his website is absolutely haunting me)!

He also gifted me with a couple TransTabla t-shirts which I will be wearing to promote and fly my personal love and membership in the growing TT Army!

I can say with total confidence folks, David has done an amazing service for the world of tabla. Sincerely, he has. He has taken a beautiful, traditional, sacred instrument and kept every single element of its lineage & heritage intact while carefully re-birthing it into the 21st century.

Whether you buy one of his drums or send him one of your own for a retrofit, you will honestly be absolutely delighted with the results.

Cheers and Bravo, David!!

Namaste,

Scott Cutshall

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tablataal

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Reply with quote  #2 
Hi Scott. Thanks for sharing. Sounds like an amazing invention and really a awesome contribution to the tabla world. Unfortunately for me I won't be able to convince my wife to let me spend that much on just the Dayan. ;( enjoy it looks awesome.
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evening84

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Reply with quote  #3 
Thanks for sharing - no apologies required for it being a long post. I quite miss those from the hey-days of the likes of 'peeling the layers off the TiRaKiTe onion' or 'in my gharana, we sleep with fists all rolled up' etc. etc.

Good luck with your new toy - looks wonderful.

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sohummusicals

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Reply with quote  #4 
What shell is it ? it says Shesham wood on david's website, but its definitely not a black heavy Shesham (Indian Rosewood).
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VNO Design

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Reply with quote  #5 
Scott! Thank you for the fantastic compliments, I'm so happy you like your new baby. That particular TransTabla was one of my favorites also!

@sohummusicals, that shell is made of Sheesham, Latin name "Dalbergia Sissoo" which is not to be confused with East Indian Rosewood (Dalbergia Latifolia) which is incorrectly referred to as Sheesham, or black Sheesham or heavy Sheesham. It's a completely different tree although in the same Dalbergia family.

Here are two drums showing the contrast:

http://transtabla.us/transtabla28/

http://transtabla.us/custom-transtablas/transtabla47/

Cheers!

-David

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kalyan

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Reply with quote  #6 
Very very nice! Looks like you got a winner.
I was under the impression that both varieties were sheesham, the dark one is commonly called Indian Rosewood or black sheesham. I have been scolded on youtube for not calling the rosewood sheesham. In the end for clarity I just stick with the same classification as David, the lighter wood usually found on Kolkatta tablas sheesham and the the dark one rosewood.
Kalyan

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sohummusicals

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Reply with quote  #7 
Congratulations Kalyan for thinking you won, But take a look at this too.
Shesham is Hindi Name to "Rosewood".
http://dict.hinkhoj.com/words/meaning-of-ROSEWOOD-in-hindi.html
And if you go anywhere in Western or Southern India, Shesham is Dark in color, with High Density, Beautiful Textured Finish and was Mentioned as Eastern Indian Rosewood by Britishers, the Genuine one. expensive and rarely available. And People have been calling it Kala Shesham/Shisham for Ages.
The One which David Yo calls Shesham is found in Northern part of India, also known as Dilli Shesham or Light colored Shesham, or Amroha Shesham, easily available in Northern India, lighter in weight and cheap.

I totally understand this, With that Price tag, It has to be this way
Everything else seems wonderful, Good Job David
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S.Cutshall

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Reply with quote  #8 
Thank you for all the positive words folks!!

I am really enjoying this beautiful instrument--just wish I could play it better, at the level it deserves to be played at!

So amazing transitioning from a decent Daya to a first rate Daya, not to mention a slightly larger diameter Daya, the learning curve on what I "thought" I had sort of begun to play well has been, well, recurved!!

Blessings-

-Scott

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VNO Design

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Reply with quote  #9 
While this thread was temporarily locked, I started another regarding wood types used in Tabla making from India. Love to see some discussion about it over there!

Best Wishes,
-David

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