Hi, i was wondering about the tablas from aacm. I attended the school last summer and heard many good drums, but I think that they ship the lower quality drums to internet and mail buyers. I dont know for sure, but I have ordered a rosewood tabla from them before and they sent me a 4 3/4" tabla. It sounded mediocre and extremely high pitched. This time I ordered another larger rosewood tabla, and it's taken three weeks to ship it. I just started reading the old posts on this page, and I am afraid I have purchased from the wrong place. They claim that the vishnu heads have unmatched tone and resonance, but I have heard many better tablas, and the vishnu tabla I have now is crap. Also, when I talked to them on the phone, they neglected to tell me that they were getting a new shipment of vishnu tablas in a few days. I asked them what would be the best tabla to buy, and they said the deluxe calcutta would be best and that they got a shipment a few months ago. Not until I called back three days later and asked "do you have any good rosewood tablas" did they inform me of their new shipment. I suspect that they were trying to get rid of as many of the calcuttas as possible before the new shipment. I dont think its possible that they didnt know of the shipment. Anyway I am not trying to completely badmouth the aacm store, but I think that they could have been a little more honest with me. I would like to know, though if there are any more dealers in the us that are more reputed, and if anyone knows more about the aacm store's quality of tabla. Thanks.
If you've had a negative experience from a certain dealer you should let others know. You've discovered what I suspected myself from my experience with "Vishnu" tablas, AACM tablas, and the person/s who run their shop. (I also know students who've had similiar experiences with AACM sitars). I also believe that someone is trying to unload unsaleable items that have been in their stock room for a long time. I wouldn't count on their "new shipment" being considerably better. At any rate you should avoid being bitten twice by the same dog. One thing you should know - there are good Bombay tablas and there are bad Bombay tablas - the same with Calcuttas. Sometimes it's even difficult to tell where a tabla is from. The differences are really only in the general sense (thick skins vs. thinner skins etc.- it's a relative term) and when it comes down to the bottom line a tabla either sounds good or it doesn't . Tabla construction is not a mechanical process. Every tablawala has to purchase his materials from wherever he can for the best price and sometimes the materials that are available aren't as good as the materials he purchased the year before. Sometimes he's forced to let an amount of lesser quality items to be sold to wholesalers in bulk just to stay in business. Don't let fancy names like "Vishnu", or qualifications like "professional-grade" fool you. You should even take word of mouth recommendations with a grain of salt. Don't be in a hurry to purchase a set of tablas over the internet you've only seen a facsimile photo of. If you live somewhere you can't buy locally, wait and save a few more dollars to travel to a shop where you can buy from directly and take them home with you. Another possibility is to ask visiting musicians from India who are touring through your area if they'd be willing to sell you their instruments when have finished the tour. I've gotten some real nice tablas that way - you're not paying for someone's stock overhead, you can see what you're getting, and the artists are happy to make a little profit and not to have to carry the instruments back home with them.
I was actually mistaken about the aacm drums. The calcutta they sent me just had a thin head that i wasn't used to. I sent it back and they sent me a beautiful dark rosewood tabla that is extremely rich in tone. They did take a while to send it, but it was only because they had to replace the pudi and it took a while to rehead. They definitely compensated for it by sending me an outstanding drum, Thanks AACM.