Level of Difficulty: intermediate

Age levels: 12 and up.

amateur to pro

Any ceramic or metal bowl or vase with a lip around the mouth is a likely candidate for a fishskin drum.






Working with fishskin

A guitar player friend of mine thought of me one day as his associates at work were tossing out the trash, and rescued this superlight pork rind jar for my collection. Good eye, Guy Minervini!

I had bought a 13" fishskin from mid-east, the first fishskin ever for me. When it arrived, it was apparent that one half of the skin was darker than the other, and on closer examination, I saw the darker half was THINNER by a good bit. At that point, we decided to head the hibachi, both openings. Len basically did most of the work, and I was amazed at how easily he did it.

After only 15 or 20 minutes in the water, the fishskin was flexible; a bit stinky too, I might add, although you cannot tell now. We cut the skin in half, along the line where the thickness varied. The darker and thinner half went on the oval shaped hole at the bottom, and the thicker part went on the circular hole on top. Len used a stiff twine, and we took it apart and used only one strand of it, and it was kind of sticky and held together well. We made a loop, a slip knot like in a yoyo, and then one of us held the loop around the mouth as the other situated the skin, pulling out wrinkles as we tightened the loop around the lip of the opening. We pulled the skin tight, then around and around with the line. At the end, a drop of superglue held the line in place.

We had planned to trim the edges of the skin, but liked the rustic look and left it as it was.



Please send feedback. Thanks for looking..





The simplicity of the design requires that one tune the old way: with heat to tune up , and water to tune down. There are certain advantages in playing with the skin tight, and certain advantages in having it somewhat loose.

Click for detail.

A few of many possible playing techniques.


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