INDIAN MUSIC FORUM ARCHIVES: Tabla Forum: Bolt vs strap


Author Message
Bolt vs strap Dec 14, 2003 08:02 p.m.

The tabla is traditionally strap tuned but does it have any advantage, tonal or other, over a bolt tuned tabla?
Warren Ashford
Re:Bolt vs strap Dec 15, 2003 11:12 a.m.

I will answer since I have both
In general the strap tabla, playing it, learning how to tune, repair etc. is critical.
Having said that there are some good bolt tabla sets like mine that can be useful though tuning is actually more time consuming. They don't go out of tune as fast so they are good for fusion, live situations where you don't have the luxury of tuning. For strictly Indian or acoustic music the strap is better. Also the metal parts tend to be in the way and can actually be painful to play for long periods. Another problem is that bolt sets are mostly lousy quality.

Vikash (Dec 14, 2003 08:02 p.m.):
The tabla is traditionally strap tuned but does it have any advantage, tonal or other, over a bolt tuned tabla?
Re:Bolt vs strap Dec 16, 2003 10:19 a.m.

I want to exercise my DIY skills and make my own dayan. I build speakers and I think this will be a relatively straight-forward project, and using bolts will have obvious benefits.

I just want to make sure I'm not wasting my time using bolts instead of straps.

Has anyone else attempted making their own dayan?

Re:Bolt vs strap Dec 16, 2003 11:20 a.m.

Read Warren's reply more carefully before you go drilling holes in a good shell. Otherwise, I believe you'll discover more disadvantages in a bolt tuned instrument than the single advantage of having your tuning relatively stabilized.
For one, the integrity of the shell is important for a tabla to generate a sustained tone. And, secondly, you'll need a good source of new heads because you'll be replacing them four times more often especially if it's your primary instrument.


Re:Bolt vs strap Dec 16, 2003 06:57 p.m.

aanaddha (Dec 16, 2003 11:20 a.m.):
...And, secondly, you'll need a good source of new heads because you'll be replacing them four times more often...

It's unclear to me why? Is it common for heads tensioned with bolts to have a shorter life-span because of the sustained tension?

Re:Bolt vs strap Dec 16, 2003 11:35 p.m.

Because, it's like putting electric guitar tuning pegs on a tanpura.
Buy one of those bolt-tuned tablas on E-Bay or try one at a store that sells them and tell us again why you want to make one of your own.


Keshav Das
Bolt vs strap Dec 18, 2003 09:50 a.m.

Can't say I agree about the tanpura analogy. I've been selling Rikhi Ram tanpuras with machine tuners for years now and they are great! No difference in string life at all. Metal strings are a zillion times more stable than a piece of goatskin. The only reason machine tuners aren't more popular - is that they spoil the visual esthetic in the eye of most classical-wallahs. Just not as pretty. Kya karenge?
Re:Bolt vs strap Dec 18, 2003 02:06 p.m.

I think the reason that the bolt tensioned tablas are not more popular are :1 that the bolts can be very uncomfortable on your hands ,so as a result you need an oversized head so that the braid will pull down out of the way of the ball part of your hand. This will often leave you with a small kinar. The solution is find a head that is slightly too big for the shell but has a wider kinar. 2 though the bolt tuned tablas are much more convenient for changing large pitches e.g. C to d they are actually harder to fine tune perfectly, it is much easier to make tiny adjustments using the hammer than a wrench, especially in a performance situation. 3 the resonating space inside the drum should be pretty much air tight, on many of the bolt sets the holes in the tabla are a little too big allowing too much air to escape giving compromised tone.

That said the advantages are clear, you can change a head much faster and with out hurting yourself. Also you can put a head on to see if its any good, if its not you can change it with out feeling like you wasted too much labor.

If you do decide to make a bolt set for the tabla be sure the holes are tightly fit , the head is big enough with a wide kinar and you should be fine. For the baya I would suggest looking at some of the designs that don't drill into the shell. There are some that have 8 metal straps that go from one side of the head down under the drum and attach one the opposite side of the head with a tensioning bolt on either side. Again you will want a slightly oversized head.

Good luck

Re:Bolt vs strap Dec 18, 2003 08:22 p.m.

Thanks for the replies...

The advantage of DIY means that shoddy/cheap workmanship leading to leaky holes in the shell etc. won't be its downfall at least. In fact I wouldn't dream of penetrating the internal structure.

I'm not convinced that the sound quality will be worse for any reason, and appreciating that compromises exist with everything, I think there is potential to make your own high quality tabla for little cost. A lathe, some wood, a bolting mechanism and a head...just add effort.

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