I just received a new tabla(it hasn't been used but stayed in the box for over a year) from a friend and he said that the straps (tasma) are dried out so before I tune the tabla I should put some oil (I decided to use glicerine) on the straps to make them more flexible. My question is : should I also dampen the gajara ? Also, when will I know that the tasma is flexible enough. I wouldn't want the straps to break during tuning.
Don't do anything like that, the gajara will just pull away from the puddi and cause major problems. I wouldn't have done anything to the straps either but maybe that helped if they were truly that brittle. In any case just tune them up and play them. More to worry about is if the baya is tuned really high then you truly did hae a massie drying out problem. If the drums don't have an extremely high and tight sound then they will probably be alright. -Warren