Some General Timpani Do’s and Don’ts
DO take the time to learn about the mechanics of your timpani and what is considered routine maintenance by the manufacturer.
DO check your timpani regularly to make sure that they are within the proper range as suggested by the manufacturer.
DO keep all mechanical parts clean and well lubricated.
DO keep your Mylar heads clean and covered with a high-quality head protector.
DO keep your timpani covered with drop covers.
DO keep your timpani out of direct sunlight and away from heating and cooling vents.
DO apply a polymeric protectant to the heads periodically to help retain elasticity in the head.
DO store your timpani in a climate-controlled (temperate) environment with the heads at low tension (heel to the floor or toe in up position) when not in use.
DO temper your timpani in a COMPLETELY quiet environment.
DO the complete well-tempering process when you install new heads.
DO check/adjust your tempering after each move, but only after letting the drums sit idle for at least forty-five minutes. Give the instruments time to adjust to the new environment.
DO teach your students how to temper and maintain timpani heads.
DO encourage your students help keep the timpani in proper working condition.
DO change your timpani heads on a regular basis.
DO learn the sizes of replacement heads for your timpani. Document the sizes and mark them them on the drums for future reference.
DON’T be in a hurry when you mount and temper heads. Take your time and let the heads do some initial stretching. Temper the heads at the threshold of pitch over three or four sessions. Set the desired ranges of the drums only after the heads have had time to do their initial-stretch.
DON’T ever use a heat gun on a Mylar timpani head to remove wrinkles. Use a different head.
DON’T ever use a heat gun to remove dents from a Mylar while the head is mounted on the drum. Replace the head.
DON’T try to temper timpani in a noisy environment. Temper in a quiet-zone only.
DON’T leave your timpani for an extended period of time with high tension on the heads. Always release all tension off of the heads when in storage mode.
DON’T try to temper timpani immediately after moving them into a new environment.
DON’T store timpani in an environment with drastic fluctuations in temperature.
DON’T move your timpani to the performance venue directly before the performance or dress rehearsal and expect them to sound good.
DON’T ever move or pick up your timpani by the counter-hoop. Use the struts or frame.
DON’T ever use your timpani as tables.
DON’T think of tempering timpani as something you do on special occasions only. It is an ongoing process.
DON’T make excuses as to why you can’t keep your timpani heads clear and the drums in proper working condition. You’re a professional!