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Guide to Taiko Drums

Taiko Drum : What is it?

Taiko Drums

Taiko drums are barrel-shaped drums traditionally used for tempo in Japanese folk music. They usually have one-piece bodies made from hollowed-out wood and cowskin drumheads on both ends. The drumheads are stretched at a constant high tension, which gives them a unique high-pitched sound. The word 'taiko' is Japanese for 'great drum,' although not all taiko drums are large. They range in size from six inches to six feet, and are commonly played in ensembles. Most taiko drums are played with wooden sticks known as bachi.

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Types of Taiko Drums

Taiko DrumsTaiko Drums

Kinds of Taiko Drums include the following:

Byou-uchi daiko

These drums have single-piece bodies, with the drumheads nailed onto the wood. They are made from carved-out tree trunks, so their diameters are limited by the size of the tree they are made from. They are non-tunable and provide a fixed pitch and drumhead tension.

Tsukeshime-daiko

Tsukeshime-daiko have iron rings around the drumhead, which are woven together sound the rim of the drum. They are tunable and can be adjusted with ropes, turnbuckles, or bolts. Their bodies may be solid or constructed from separate staves. 

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Choosing Taiko Drums (Buying tips)

Construction: Choose a taiko drum with a one-piece body. These are sturdier than staved bodies and will hold up better against strong drum strikes. For large drums, choose a byou-uchi variety for a stronger hold and longer-lasting tension. Tsukeshime-daiko are more appropriate for adjusting smaller drums, which tend to lose tension with frequent use.

Drumhead: Choose a taiko drum with a durable drumhead that will not tear or break when hit. While other drums can be slackened to prevent tearing, taiko drums have to maintain high tension to keep their signature sound. Look for moderately thick drumheads made of treated skin or synthetic material for better durability. 

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