Tabla wood varieties

Discussions about the Indian hand-drums known as tabla.

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VNO Design
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Re: Tabla wood varieties

Postby VNO Design » Fri Feb 06, 2015 11:34 am

Why yes you can Scott, your's truly. What would you like to see? Or anyone for that matter. By custom orders, I mean custom orders. Prepare to pay custom prices, but you get what you pay for as they say.

-David
Main Site: www.transtabla.us
Facebook: facebook.com/transtabla
Twitter: @TransTablas

el presidente
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Re: Tabla wood varieties

Postby el presidente » Fri Feb 06, 2015 3:28 pm

Thank you David for sharing the picture of Vijayasar shell! I try to share some pictures of my shells made of different woods.

The hardest for me is to recognice these; Kolkatan Mahongany, Vijayasar, Neem and the Light Shesham (sap wood?) -woods from each other! As they all have more or less orange color. Can anyone share some tips to differentate them? Upendra, I guess you have some knowledge too. You can also PM me.

When selecting the woods for (musical instrument) manufacturing, in my opinion, the first thing to consider, is how would it survive in the climate it's being used! Will it constantly shrink/expand, and/or produce some cracks/splits. Wisest choice would be to use domestic wood species. They are, if dried properly, most accustomed to their own natural climate.

David, you might want to check this guy. He's making great latin percussion drums in U.S. He turns exotic hardwoods in lathe, making high quality solid shell drums.
http://www.manitopercussion.com/

In latin percussion scene, these tone/hardwoods are used mostly:
Black Walnut, Cuban Mahongany (Caoba), Honduran Mahongany, African Mahongany, Philippinean Mahongany, Cherry Wood, White Ash Wood, Cuban Cedar (Cedro), Cuban Ziricote, North-American Red Oak, Canadian Maple, Finnish Birch and Siam Oak (Rubberwood).

I accidentally more or less ranked them by price or being sought after :)
I believe the Caribbean Mahonganys are endangered species nowadays.

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VNO Design
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Re: Tabla wood varieties

Postby VNO Design » Sat Feb 07, 2015 10:38 am

Presidente,

I would love to see the pictures of your shells, especially interested in the Kokata Mahogany as I think it's what my unidentified shells are made of. Vijayasar you have a picture of, Neem is very fragrant. If you don't have a head on the shell, you should be able to get a whiff and know. I have one after refinishing that filled the room with it's scent even when fully assembled. Light Sheesham you can see on my website from any of the "two-tone" Sheesham shells. The yellowish sapwood on those should be an indicator. The heartwood is a stark contrast as it has a brown or reddish hue.

I don't fully agree with the selection of the woods needing to be from their native habitat. A fully dried piece of wood will acclimate to pretty much any normal global temperature and humidity. What is important is not selecting a wood that is notoriously difficult to dry, or easier still, being cut while completely wet. Unfortunately, the majority of Tabla shells are cut totally wet, and I've mentioned in my retrofit blog here (http://transtabla.us/retrofitblog/) that I think it contributed greatly to the current shape of the instrument itself. Today, with properly dried wood, Tablas could be cut out of dainty thinner shells that may give completely different and desireable acoustic properties.

I would love to make shells out of any hardwood out there and listen to the performance. Even from a purely aesthetic quality it's interesting to me.

More to come,
-David
Main Site: www.transtabla.us
Facebook: facebook.com/transtabla
Twitter: @TransTablas

Vivek
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Re: Tabla wood varieties

Postby Vivek » Sun Feb 08, 2015 10:24 am

David - that one that you're not sure about looks like Khair from the photo, but of course it's hard to tell from the photograph. Is it ridiculously heavy, rock hard, and a bright orange color (almost pumpkin-ish)? Then it might be khair. Khair is considered one of the best tabla woods (THE best, according to some) but it is quite rare these days, and (in my opinion) heavy to the point of being impractical.

As a side-note - Vijasar is actually VERY common in Maharashtra. It is one of the most common wood I see in tabla shops there, especially for large sur tablas. The other one common in Maharashtra is "Delhi Sheesham"
Love All, Serve All

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VNO Design
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Re: Tabla wood varieties

Postby VNO Design » Sun Feb 08, 2015 10:32 pm

Hi Vivek,

You're right about trying to identify from a photograph, usually very difficult unless you have a large diversely cut piece of wood. From your description I don't think it's Khair because of the lack of weight. It's certainly hardwood, but the weight is very similar to Sheesham, not even close to as heavy as Latifolia Rosewood.

I had no idea Vijayasar was common for Tabla shells in some parts. Is it currently being harvested, or is what you're seeing old stock? I would be interested in importing a large Tabla from Vijayasar if you know how to arrange that.

Best Wishes,
-David
Main Site: www.transtabla.us
Facebook: facebook.com/transtabla
Twitter: @TransTablas

biharilal
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Re: Tabla wood varieties

Postby biharilal » Tue Jan 17, 2017 5:34 pm

Hi All,

What variety of wood would you recommend for a beginner.
These will be my first tablas and I have no knowledge on this subject.

Thanks.

hbajpai
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Re: Tabla wood varieties

Postby hbajpai » Fri Jan 20, 2017 1:41 am

Not a true recommendation, but a list of popular wood species (indian names) with even more confusing data points :-)! :-)

Isn't the Internet fun!?

No-name wood - well as the name suggests its no-name whatever or "kaccha-lakdi" the outer layers of some wood.

Mango - cheapest! Having said that, I have met some brilliant Bollywwod, Kawalli, Gurudwara, and Sufi tabla players & Dhol, Dholki players that make such babies sound tantric!

Tamrind - same as mango generally.

Khair - wood from the tree where they get "Kattha" used in paan. Fablous choice. I love these. My vote is for this type. Particularly 6.25 & larger tablas.

Neem - durable, cheap. Good for a budget minded.

Sheeshum - superior class. Has established a brand that I personally now doubt if it is as good as some of the other choices. Its very good!, but is it the best? not sure. I think some of the brand value is transferred from furniture valuation.

Bijasar also spelled Vijasar - botanically, the highest density wood from the list above or below. Older books state this wood to be the best. Some people in India believe the holder of this wood brings ghosts. I love these as much as Khair, but the wood is hard to get and Khair gets the job done.

Teak - same as sheeshum, but does not enjoy the brand value of sheeshum in Tablas. Other instruments different story.

My suggestion, invest in a very sientific, controlled experiment to determine wood types, which will take a life time or just but the best sounding drum and when done, but another one.

The special wood variety (khair, sheeshum, vijasar etc.) are becoming hard to ge. New wood types should be introduced like Maple, OAK, synthetic etc. etc.

biharilal
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Re: Tabla wood varieties

Postby biharilal » Fri Jan 20, 2017 8:23 am

hbajpai wrote:Not a true recommendation, but a list of popular wood species (indian names) with even more confusing data points :-)! :-)

Isn't the Internet fun!?

No-name wood - well as the name suggests its no-name whatever or "kaccha-lakdi" the outer layers of some wood.

Mango - cheapest! Having said that, I have met some brilliant Bollywwod, Kawalli, Gurudwara, and Sufi tabla players & Dhol, Dholki players that make such babies sound tantric!

Tamrind - same as mango generally.

Khair - wood from the tree where they get "Kattha" used in paan. Fablous choice. I love these. My vote is for this type. Particularly 6.25 & larger tablas.

Neem - durable, cheap. Good for a budget minded.

Sheeshum - superior class. Has established a brand that I personally now doubt if it is as good as some of the other choices. Its very good!, but is it the best? not sure. I think some of the brand value is transferred from furniture valuation.

Bijasar also spelled Vijasar - botanically, the highest density wood from the list above or below. Older books state this wood to be the best. Some people in India believe the holder of this wood brings ghosts. I love these as much as Khair, but the wood is hard to get and Khair gets the job done.

Teak - same as sheeshum, but does not enjoy the brand value of sheeshum in Tablas. Other instruments different story.

My suggestion, invest in a very sientific, controlled experiment to determine wood types, which will take a life time or just but the best sounding drum and when done, but another one.

The special wood variety (khair, sheeshum, vijasar etc.) are becoming hard to ge. New wood types should be introduced like Maple, OAK, synthetic etc. etc.


Hello.

If you analyze the history of this thread,
then you will know that the wood varieties have already been well covered.
My question is specific to the type of wood recommended for beginners.
Thanks

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VNO Design
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Re: Tabla wood varieties

Postby VNO Design » Wed Feb 01, 2017 8:54 am

I wouldn't recommend paying much attention to the wood variety of Tablas as a beginner. Just make sure the shell is not warped, with no cracks, or perhaps very small ones on the bottom only, and same goes for knots. Instead, just focus on the sound you can get out of them when struck correctly. If you're so new to the instrument that you can't properly play a Na or Tin, then have someone else play the drum a bit. Tonal clarity and stability of the head staying in tune are most important for a beginners Tabla. If you don't have a capable drum while you're practicing then you'll find learning correct striking unnecessarily difficult. Buying some fancy exotic hardwood shell will not benefit your tone as a beginner, but if you happen to find an awesome sounding Tabla that has a beautiful shell, consider buying it for sure. I always say that beginners should buy the best Tabla they can afford.

Best Wishes,
Main Site: www.transtabla.us
Facebook: facebook.com/transtabla
Twitter: @TransTablas

Lars
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Re: Tabla wood varieties

Postby Lars » Wed Feb 01, 2017 9:39 pm

A recent factor to narrow your choices are that all species of Dalbergia (Sheesham) are now protected as of January and require certificates.

Lars
http://www.raincitymusic.com

profpandit
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Re: Tabla wood varieties

Postby profpandit » Thu Feb 02, 2017 7:44 pm

VNO Design wrote:I wouldn't recommend paying much attention to the wood variety of Tablas as a beginner. Just make sure the shell is not warped, with no cracks, or perhaps very small ones on the bottom only, and same goes for knots. Instead, just focus on the sound you can get out of them when struck correctly. If you're so new to the instrument that you can't properly play a Na or Tin, then have someone else play the drum a bit. Tonal clarity and stability of the head staying in tune are most important for a beginners Tabla. If you don't have a capable drum while you're practicing then you'll find learning correct striking unnecessarily difficult. Buying some fancy exotic hardwood shell will not benefit your tone as a beginner, but if you happen to find an awesome sounding Tabla that has a beautiful shell, consider buying it for sure. I always say that beginners should buy the best Tabla they can afford.

Best Wishes,


Yes, I recently got a very cool tabla daayan from Varanasi.
It sounded great, yet the wood was Neem or Mango i.e. cheap
So the quality of the wood makes a second order difference
whereas the shape of the shell, its thickness and the way it is bored
make a bigger difference.
These properties are developed across generations by the tabla makers
So the tabla maker is more impaatint than the wood he chooses to use.
This is the more powerful correlation.


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