Fine Tuning the Cooperman Bodhran.

I’ve had my Cooperman Glen Velez Bodhran for the better part of a year now. It’s a sweet drummie to be sure, but after many months of playing and performing it got bit a fuzzy, pitchwise, so I went searching for some tips on restoring it’s original ringing tone.

I scoured the web and found an old post on the Middle Eastern Drumming blog. The quote is from Glen Velez and I found it very helpful. I thought I would repost this in case anyone else was looking for similar info.

“The Cooperman drums are so well made and the tuning is so sensitive that very precise tuning is possible. Tap the taks near each tuning device. Use a sequential criss cross pattern; tune one small area and then the one across from it on the far side of the head. This can take several sequences around the head to match the pitch all around the head. When you are satisfied with the taks, then do the same thing with the dums. When you are finished let the drum settle in for a couple of hours and check it to see if any area has changed noticeably. That can happen because the drum will slowly settle in to the new tuning. I consider these drum like timpani in regards to the tuning, so the more attention you pay to that aspect the better it will sound.”

Glen’s advice got me in the ball park but the drum still ‘fought’ itself. I could detect problems but found it tricky to find the exact spot on a twelve lug drum. Since I am a timpani tuner from way back, I thought I would try a technique that I use on the big drums.

Sitting at the piano, I picked a pitch (C in this case) that was close to the pitch of the bodhran. I played the C and then then sang (more like hummed) softly into the drum head near the rim. If the drum ‘sang’ back to me, I turned it slightly and went to the next lug. (You can’t see the lug spots from the top of the drum. You could mark the lug points with bits of tape, or if you don’t mind marking on the drum, a little pencil dot.) If the drum didn’t ‘sing,’ I hummed a tiny bit flat or sharp to see if it responded. If it resonated when I sing high or low, I turned the lug a tiny bit up or down with the tuning tool.

After I got the C ringing I tuned the next partial, which in this case was the G above. I went around and sang the G into the drum using the same technique as before. I repeated the whole process a couple hours later to account for the head settling and was very happy with the results!


Patrick Cooperman sent me this link to a David Kuckhermann video on tuning the bodhran.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *