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proxmire

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Reply with quote  #1 
Do you find the tuning of a tabla to be more or less stable at higher pitch? I have wondered about how the tension of the heads relates to pitch (is it the same as a string). Is it a linear or logarithmic proportion? It seems to me like it is less stable at higher pitch, but it could be just in my mind.
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VNO Design

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Reply with quote  #2 
Hi Proxmire,

Tuning and stability with regards to pitch involves several factors. First, let's assume your shell is not warped, the gajara is woven nice and tight with no uneven or weak points. Likewise the leather ring on the bottom needs to be uniform and strong. Finally the straps are of good quality, with as close to consistent thickness as possible.

From here it would reason that the tension is controlled by the head fighting the strapping, with the hard 90degree bend from the rim of the shell producing a great deal of friction that helps stabilize and buffer these forces. As the straps are pulled tighter, stretching increases across the board in every element involved. Any weak points in the strapping will be exploited (a chain is only as strong as its weakest link) likewise any imperfections in the head will stand out and begin to worsen.

Higher pitches will push all of these materials to their maximum stretching points, and therefore will not stabilize until all of the stretching has equalized. Unfortunately with 35 or so feet of leather strap, it will never equalize, so the player must constantly adjust by knocking blocks down, pulling straps over the blocks, and finally pulling the slack out by hand and starting again. Provided your head survives the first go round! However lower pitches can become stable. I have a 5-7/8" Tabla at "G" that is over 10 years old and holds pitch fine. With the best quality leather materials I've seen somewhat stable "C" pitch drums, but I've never seen a stable Tabla at D or E though.

Understanding these forces was a major driving force for the creation of the TransTabla system. I started by removing as many of the stretching variables as possible, starting with the weakest element, the strapping. Vectran has no stretch, and makes an immediate difference, along with a steel base ring to replace the leather one. The improved stability is especially noticeable at the higher pitches.

Because of the removal of many of the stretching elements in a traditional setup. I have a great deal of experience with how the Tabla head itself stretches. It will stretch in a non-uniform elliptical pattern because of the "grain" in the goat skin. This will need to be compensated for by adding a bit of tension where these spots are noticed when first adjusting a TransTabla with a new head. After this has been done however the head remains remarkably stable. Only slight block movements are required when moving the maximum range of say 1.5 to 2 steps, and not in every case. Most of the time, just hammer strikes will bring the head back to equilibrium and singing like a bell.

I hope this is helpful information, best of luck in your pursuits!

-David

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Main Site: http://www.transtabla.us
http://www.instagram.com/transtablas/
Twitter: @transtablas
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proxmire

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Reply with quote  #3 
Thanks for the info. That makes sense, more strain equals more stretching and less stability. I have always thought from owning both bombay and calcutta style drums, that the calcuttas with thinner heads were less pitch stable. The bombays seem to be harder to get to pitch, which makes sense because there is more tension with a higher mass, but stay in tune better once there. Is that your experience as well? I guess they are less susceptible to weather changes as well. There must be a lot of factors at play. But I have always preferred the sound of the calcuttas, on the tabla at least.
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VNO Design

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Reply with quote  #4 
Yes, my experience also and for the reasons you stated, higher mass = thicker skin = more resistance to changes. And similarly I love the sound of a good Calcutta style head, so the risk of fragility is worth it to me. The Calcutta heads I've put on the TransTablas seem to have the most range also. I think it's due to the thinner skin and gab being able to resonate easier. I also enjoy the Bombay sound too. I guess I just love Tabla in general!

-David

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Main Site: http://www.transtabla.us
http://www.instagram.com/transtablas/
Twitter: @transtablas
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Neogeotoo

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Reply with quote  #5 
Quick follow up question to this, David. If hide straps are the weak point why aren't there more people using the nylon, or better yet, the vectran that I've seen on yours? Same question applies to the ring at the bottom (hide strapping vs metal). I honestly have not been able to find a good answer to this question. Thanks
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VNO Design

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Reply with quote  #6 
Hi Neogeotoo,

I think the answer is complex. First, hardly anyone can work on their own Tabla, so the straps come from the makers as rawhide and remain. Makers aren't going to change unless someone forces them to. Their supply chains are grounded in generations of families and tradition with a delicate balance so as to make a living. If someone like myself comes along and rocks the boat, most folks in that realm dismiss the benefits and look the other way.

Second, assume you can work on your own Tabla. Vectran is expensive and nobody has heard of it. Folks are basically taking my word for it based on my personal experience and findings. (I will mention here that practically everyone who has bought the Vectran and ring come back for more, with some of my customers upgrading every drum they own with this stuff.) For overseas customers, this upgrade is even more costly due to shipping. The price of an upgrade can easily get you a new Tabla in India, so it's hard for people to justify the cost. Same goes for the stainless ring, it's expensive versus the "free" leather ring.

"Quantity over Quality" has been a theme for most Tabla players in that when their drums stated sounding bad they just bought another one. This same idea is ingrained in the maker’s philosophy. Most of the makers out there do the bare minimum to make a drum saleable. Tablas have always been thought of as a "cheap" instrument, so it's going to take some time for people to come around to the possibilities, justification, and investment that a TransTabla brings. I'm starting at the other end of "Quality over Quantity" which challenges the former business model. TransTabla is designed to appeal to players who are tired of the dice roll, and difficulty of buying a Tabla and maintaining it. Unfortunately I'm still at the mercy of the Tabla head makers, so my prices account for the tremendous loss of sifting through the rubble to find good heads. Add in USA manufacturing prices and quality, and all of a sudden the price of these cyborg Tablas is triple over a traditional drum.

Last, hardly anyone knows these alternatives exist! Tabla is a personal world, and many teachers, students and performers are secluded in tight local groups. Advancements are rumored, but it will take someone bold to actually buy into these changes and seek them out.

With every TransTabla that heads out in the world, I'm more confident that I'm on the right track. Everyday I get more and more people asking questions and preparing to purchase a full drum or upgrade their own. There is no reason for an instrument as amazing as the Tabla to be held back by things that are remedied by technology. Yes this comes at a price, but you get what you pay for.

Cheers and Best Wishes!

-David

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Main Site: http://www.transtabla.us
http://www.instagram.com/transtablas/
Twitter: @transtablas
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rch

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Reply with quote  #7 
Hi David
I greatly admire your ingenuity to improvise this great instrument and bring it up to par with modern advancement. I would really like to love to try out your design but afraid that , while it is a great system, whether it would turn out to be a high maintenance system to repair and replace the head etc,in the long run. Have you ever considered renting one with an option to buy!!? . This would allow the buyer to decide if he is comfortable owning one. Also, it will help build up your customer base. Just aside, there was question on one of your U-tube videos on fiberskin heads. Would that be a more cost effective alternative to traditional heads?
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VNO Design

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Reply with quote  #8 
Hi Rch, and thank you for the kind words,

The TransTabla is specifically made to be low maintenance, so I'm not waiting for field tests to come in on whether it is or not because I've already proven out the design. I've reheaded hundreds of times with this system and it is so easy that it's laughable compared to the old method. My videos show this in its simplest form if one needs more proof. Every customer I have is pleased with their drum, and many have ordered a 2nd one shortly after their first.

I haven't considered renting for the simple reason that the cost needed to offset the potential wear and misuse risk would be too high to do this viably. Hardly anyone rents regular Tabla for this same reason. My customer base is growing appreciably, and I'm not enthused about putting my inventory at risk to aquire a few extra potential customers sooner. People that come to me generally know Tabla already, or are committed to the instrument and appreciate the benefits enough for a TransTabla to be their first drum. I also have an unconditional guarantee on my parts and products. If you're not happy, return it for a refund. You're not going to find that anywhere overseas.

To address your question about Fiberskyn heads, I've never seen or heard of one even close to properly designed for Tabla. I've put a great deal of thought into this and even have potential machines sketched out already that I believe could do the job right. However, for this to become a reality we need some serious capital in the 6 figure range, and frankly a larger market base. Even if it's successful, the cost savings for the player would come in the subtle form of consistency and dependability, not in up-front cost. The heads would likely be more expensive than what you would buy in India. Also, if you use synthetic material there will absolutely be a change in the sound. Getting people on board with the new sound would present challenges, and could cripple the entire project from being profitable for years. I speculate that it's easier for Tabla players to form a coalition that pressures the Indian makers to produce to higher standards. We're seeing some of this come around already as word of bad quality spreads much quicker and efficiently than before with the use of forums like this and social media. Still, creating standards in India would be like pulling teeth...in India. Getting Tabla to be more mainstream (larger market base) has to start with the makers creating a more dependable product. The power of the consumer choosing where to put their money is the only pressure I see them responding to.

Thank you for the inquiry and Best Wishes,

-David

__________________
Main Site: http://www.transtabla.us
http://www.instagram.com/transtablas/
Twitter: @transtablas
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Neogeotoo

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Posts: 62
Reply with quote  #9 
Quote:
Originally Posted by "VNO
Hi Neogeotoo,

I think the answer is complex. First, hardly anyone can work on their own Tabla, so the straps come from the makers as rawhide and remain. Makers aren't going to change unless someone forces them to. Their supply chains are grounded in generations of families and tradition with a delicate balance so as to make a living. If someone like myself comes along and rocks the boat, most folks in that realm dismiss the benefits and look the other way.

Second, assume you can work on your own Tabla. Vectran is expensive and nobody has heard of it. Folks are basically taking my word for it based on my personal experience and findings. (I will mention here that practically everyone who has bought the Vectran and ring come back for more, with some of my customers upgrading every drum they own with this stuff.) For overseas customers, this upgrade is even more costly due to shipping. The price of an upgrade can easily get you a new Tabla in India, so it's hard for people to justify the cost. Same goes for the stainless ring, it's expensive versus the "free" leather ring.

"Quantity over Quality" has been a theme for most Tabla players in that when their drums stated sounding bad they just bought another one. This same idea is ingrained in the maker’s philosophy. Most of the makers out there do the bare minimum to make a drum saleable. Tablas have always been thought of as a "cheap" instrument, so it's going to take some time for people to come around to the possibilities, justification, and investment that a TransTabla brings. I'm starting at the other end of "Quality over Quantity" which challenges the former business model. TransTabla is designed to appeal to players who are tired of the dice roll, and difficulty of buying a Tabla and maintaining it. Unfortunately I'm still at the mercy of the Tabla head makers, so my prices account for the tremendous loss of sifting through the rubble to find good heads. Add in USA manufacturing prices and quality, and all of a sudden the price of these cyborg Tablas is triple over a traditional drum.

Last, hardly anyone knows these alternatives exist! Tabla is a personal world, and many teachers, students and performers are secluded in tight local groups. Advancements are rumored, but it will take someone bold to actually buy into these changes and seek them out.

With every TransTabla that heads out in the world, I'm more confident that I'm on the right track. Everyday I get more and more people asking questions and preparing to purchase a full drum or upgrade their own. There is no reason for an instrument as amazing as the Tabla to be held back by things that are remedied by technology. Yes this comes at a price, but you get what you pay for.

Cheers and Best Wishes!

-David
Thank you for the response. I've run into a complete wall when discussing alternatives to to the traditional setup whether it's straps, heads, or Transtabla....people are so resistant to change without ever completing considering the alternative. It's unfortunate. Anyhow, thank you again.
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