The Drum Doctor - Hand drum repair, maintenance and restoration

Tabla Repair

Tabla hand drum.
There's still life in that tabla!

If every strap of your tabla's tasma is stretched over a gatta, and your gattas are pounded as far down as they will go, but all you can get out of your drum is an uninspiring dud, it's time to contact the tabla repair experts at The Drum Doctor!

Sooner or later, the rawhide lacing (tasma) that holds your tabla drum together and applies the tension that makes your drums playable will stretch. When this happens, it's time to pull the slack and tune your tabla.

Tabla tuning is what we do!

On the other hand, if the puddi, tasma or kundal need to be replaced, the drum must be taken apart and reconstructed. In other words, it takes the same amount of work to fix a damaged head, strap or counter ring, though not necessarily the same material costs (There are rare occassions when the tasma can be patched without having to take the tabla apart).

Maybe your syahi has developed an annoying buzz. Don't you hate that? Or you were doing some fine-tuning and got a little careless with the hammer. You really gotta hate that! Even worse, an ex-good-buddy spilled his beer on your drum head and ruined the syahi. REALLY gotta hate THAT!

Hey, maybe your drum's head lived a long, full life and died a natural death. Sooner or later, tabla drum heads die.

The point is . . . you need your tabla repaired.

The Drum Doctor rebuilds tablas from scratch. We'll recondition the shell, repairing any cracks and flaws such as a chipped or uneven bearing edge, find the best possible head and tasma for it, then put it all together for you. If you prefer, you can provide the materials yourself, and let us worry about the tabla repair.

Either way, when we are done, your tabla will look and sound better than new!

Tabla repair is what we do!

So why buy a new tabla, when our loving care will make your beloved old friend better than new? (Look below for examples of what you can expect from our tabla repair experts.)

For a no obligation, free consultation call us at +1 (831) 428-6626, email us or fill out a contact form.

We're located in Santa Cruz, CA, easiliy accessible to anyone in the San Francisco Bay Area, San Jose/Silicon Valley, the Salinas Valley and the Monterey Bay, but don't worry if you're outside of these areas; we have years of shipping experience. Many of our customers ship their ailing drums to us, and we ship their restored tablas back.

Con mucho gusto hablamos Español!
On Duty: Dr. Tom (The Drum Doctor)

Tabla Dayan Head Replacement

Rahul's dayan has lost its head to a natural death, and it wasn't a very subtle death.

The first step is to disassemble the drum. Here' the shell.

The shell of a tabla (dayan).
Knot on the outside of a tabla shell. knot on the inside of a tabla shell.

This tabla shell had no cracks, but it did have a knot that created a leak which had to be repaired. Here's a look from without and within.

The leak was carefully sealed and the drum reassembled with a fresh new head.

Brand new tabla pudi.

At 5 1/4", the drum was tuned to C#.

Rahul was thrilled:

I've received the drum, and it looks and sounds amazing. Thanks again, I'll definitely be referring you to my friends.


Tabla Set Restoration

Peter has decided to take up the tabla where he left off years ago. The problem is that his tabla needs a lot of TLC.

The drum heads are gonners and the straps are no longer drum worthy. They'll have to be replaced as well. Luckily, that's what we do at The Drum Doctor.

We replace the tasmas and pudis and tune the 5 1/2" dayan to C#.

Now go for it Peter!

Dayan Rescued From Scrap Heap

Tabla dayan with a broken strap.

Azadul was about to scrap his old tabla dayan. The tasma had snapped.

But that was not all. There were cracks on the shell that made Azadul think it was time to buy a new tabla. Click on the thumbnail and you can see one of them.

So he went ahead and ordered his new tabla, but in the meantime heard of The Drum Doctor and decided to send us the drum for repairs.

Slight knick on a tabla dayan pudi. Tabla dayan.

We found that the pudi was well used and had a couple of knicks, but decided it was drumworthy still.

Obviously, the tasma had to be replaced, so the drum was disassembled.

Tabla dayan shell with three cracks.

Once the tabla was disassebled, we found three significant cracks.

Close up of a crack on the shell of a tabla dayan.

The crack on the left was long but shallow and not of real concern.

Even so, the crack would be sealed.

A long, deep crack on the shell of a tabla dayan.

The crack on the right was long and deep and really gory looking. It looked as if Azadul had gotten fed up with having to tune his drum and had taken an axe to it.

We would definitely seal this crack as well.

Cose up of a crack from the inside of a tabla dayan shell.

The crack in the middle was the one that seemed the least threatening of the three, but we knew from experience this was the crack that posed the real threat. You see, the other cracks were centered at the base of the shell, which is solid wood, but this crack was at the chamber of the shell.

This crack penetrated the shell through and through, and we would seal it with the utmost care.

Once the integrity of the shell was established, we remounted the drum head with a fresh kundal and tuned it to perfection. The drum had voulume, sustain and perfect pitch.

Dear Dr. Tom,

I wanted to let you know how happy I am with the amazing work you did on my tabla! It has couple of major cracks and I was about to throw it away! Then I ordered a new tabla from Delhi but decided to send the old one to you to keep as a spare. When I received the tabla and played I was totally shocked at the sound quality! It is better than when it was new.

I can't see the cracks and the now it plays beautifully. Actually I like it more than my new Maharaja tabla! Thank you so much.



Azad, Texas

Siddharth's Tabla Troubles Solved

Tabla dayan with the puddi pulled unevenly.

Sid has tried to rehead his dayan but just can't get it to sound right. If you click on the thumbnail for a better look, you'll see that the pudi has been pulled unevenly and is leaning to one side. A well tuned tabla will tend to have a pudi that's pulled evenly around the bearing edge.

The lopsided kundal (counter ring) on a tabla.

A closer examination reveals that the kundal is also pulled disproportionally to that same side. A well tuned tabla will tend to have a nice round kundal, rather than lopsided such as this one.

Bearing edge of tabla dayan shell that needs to be levelled.

But the examination is not over. We disassemble the drum and find that the bearing edge is not quite level. This could affect the drum's tuning and must be repaired.

The first thing we do is level the bearing edge to make sure that puddi will fit perfectly on the shell, then find the perfect drum head for this shell. We're now ready to reassemble the dayan.

Sid was very pleased. Notice how the drum head sits evenly all the way around the bearing edge.

Jeff's Dayan Fully Restored

Elizabeth is a music instructor at Front Range Community College in Colorado and asked us to repair her student's tabla dayan.

The shell was in good shape but the head was a gonner. Only a close inspections revealed that the strap also had to be replaced.

Very well then, a complete reconstruction it is.

Professor Kerr asked us to spare no expense. She expected the best from this drum, so she accepted the expense.

Professor Kerr was not disappointed.

Received tabla today - Excellent job - it sounds great!

Elizabeth Kerr (Front Range Community College)

Tabla Set Repair

Leonard's tabla is in serious need of attention. Both drum heads must be replaced, the tasma on the dayan is broken and the bayan is dented.

The first thing to do is disassemble the drums and give each component a thorough examination. Each component must be drum worthy or either be repaired or replaced.

A dent on the shell of a tabla bayan.

The shell of the bayan has several dents such as this one here. While these dents will have little or no effect on the sound of the drum, they are unsightly, and we might as well repair them while we have the chance.

So we take out the dents, replace the drum heads and strap and end up with a fully restored tabla.

Tabla Bayan Restored

Devan plays tabla and, as Executive Director of the Center For Music By People With Disabilities, has a great interest getting this tabla bayan back in working order.

This would be a straightforward case. The drum head would be replaced. Well, not quite that straightforward. You see, Devan lives in a very dry climate and The Drum Doctor is located near the coast, where the climate is not so dry. The drum would have to be tuned low so as to allow for the increased tension that would result from the return to Devan's dry climate.

Feel free to reread that.

Devan shared his thoughts after the return of his bayan.

Dear Dr. Tom,

The drum arrived safely.

Perfect craftsmanship! Thank you and congratulations! . . . We are glad we have discovered a superb doctor for our instruments. We will recommend you to other tabla enthusiasts in our area . . . .

All the best,

Devan Kartha (Executive Director, Center For Music By People With Disabilities)

Tabla Restoration

An old, worn tabla head (puddi).

The pudi (puddi) on Siddhartha's dayan was old, worn and tired and sounded like it. This was a case of a tabla head dying from natural causes.

It was time to retire this faithful old friend and replace it with a new, more vibrant drum head, so Sid turned to The Drum Doctor for help.

The shell of a tabla (dayan).

The drum was disassembled. Here' the shell.

Upon close inspection, several cracks were found on the shell. Three of them at the base. These are fairly typical and only the large one was of real concern.

What really concerned us were the cracks at the bearing edge that ran all the way through the shell.

These not only threatened to eventually tear the shell apart, they degraded the voice of drum and demanded immediate attention.

Brand new tabla pudi.

Once the cracks were repaired, the tabla was reassembled with a fresh new pudi. Here's what it looks like.

This drum has a 5 1/2" head, so we tuned it to C#, as is fairly typical for a dayan of this size. And tuned it. And tuned it. And tuned it . . . When the dayan was finally shipped back Sid, the drum had been tuned half a dozen times, since the new head and tasma kept stretching and stretching and stretching . . .

But it was worth all the effort. When we were done, the tabla sounded even better than it looked. Well defined notes and a great sustain.

Two Dayans Repaired

Devan was so happy with the work we did on his tabla bayan that it wasn't long before he sent us two dayans to rebuild for him. He sent us the shells and gattas. We'd mount fresh drumheads and straps.

After discussing with Devan the key he was likely to use on each of the dayans we got to work.

Because Devan resides where the humidity is often very low, we tuned these drums lower than we normally would have. As you probably know, low humidity causes drum skins to shrink and tighten.

Here's a look at the second dayan.

A tabla dayan shell with newly mounted drum head and strap.

Devan had praised our previous work for him, but this time he felt compelled to tell his friends and colleaglues about the good work we do. He wrote:

Hello, Dr.
Tom, I am going to send the following letter either by e-mail or by regular mail to the following people who know me and are either players of tabla-s, or sellers of tabla-s or are repairers of other instruments who might have people ask them for recommendations. . .

Dear Friends:
I recently had two right hand tabla-s and one left hand drum re-headed by Dr. Tom of Drum Doctor, at

He did an excellent job and returned the drums promptly and securely. He followed up the process by calling me to set up a key for the drum and advised me with expertise. His charge was reasonable. I was eager to add a gratuity to his charge because of the high quality service.

I highly recommend Dr. Tom for any tabla work you might need done in the future.

Devan Kartha (Missoula, MT)

Tabla Bayan & Tabla Dayan Repair

Perry has decided to collect drums from all over the world - and learn to play them. He acquired the following tabla and asked The Drum Doctor to restore it to playing condition.

Obviously, the set needs new a pair of pudis, and we'll have to take a close look at the tasma to make sure they're reusable. In fact we'll give the tabla a complete examination to make sure every one of its components is sound, and give the set a thorough cleaning in the process.

After a thorough examination, we decided that the straps could stand one more round, so we replaced only the drum heads.

With a 5 inch head, we tuned this tabla to D# and let it sit for a day, then re-tuned it one more time. The next day the tabla had settled where we had left it, so we knew it was ready for its new home.

Now comes the REALLY hard part - Perry has to learn to play these lovelies.

Tabla Pudi Repair

Kevin's dayan blew it's top. As we know by now, tablas will do that.

The drum shell was perfect and the strap was intact, no apparent issues whatsoever. This appeared to be the elusive, dreamed-about, easy job.

The drum head was mounted and it tuned just fine. Sounded great!

Pretty easy on the eyes too.

The thing is that every time the drum was checked before shipping it had to be tightened again. And again and again and again, until we realized that the kundal (counter ring) had snapped! That's why the drum would tune temporarily but gradually loosen again.

Our easy dream job had to be taken apart again. Luckily, the kundal had snapped at the very end, so we were able to reuse it. By this time, we knew the drum so well it was actually pretty easy to reassemble it into perfect form.


Tabla dayan with a new pudi.

Some months later, Kevin felt compelled to thank The Drum doctor:

Hi Dr. Tom. Thanks for the work on my tabla (Some months ago). It still hasn't gone out of tune!

Kevin Williams

If Kevin only knew.

Tabla Duggi Head Replacement

The right hand drum of the tabla tends to need its puddi replaced more often than the duggi, or bayan. Sooner or later, however, the left hand drum will also need to be replaced.

The process of replacing the drum head on a bayan is very similar to the process on a dayan. Since most bayan shells are made of metal these days, repairing cracks and leaky knots is not an issue. What's more likely to happen to a duggi shell is for it to get dented.

This duggi has no such issues, and we were able to replace the drum head with little trouble. Relatively little trouble. The tasma is on the thin side and actually snapped twice. Luckily the breaks were quite near each other, and we were able to add a nice piece of strap to patch things up.

Everything worked out fine.

Calcutta Pudi On Bayan

We had mounted a Calcutta pudi on Jeff's dayan some months earlier, and he was so happy with the results that he now sent us a bayan to rehead.

Jeff had tried to extend the drumhead's life with some patches, but realized he needed our help. As with his dayan, Jeff specifically requested a Calcutta pudi for his tabla bayan. The strap was in good shape, so we just needed to order the drum head.

The Bayan looked great and sounded even better.

Dr Tom.

Just got the new drum - looks great! sounds great! Thank you so much! Keep in touch if you happen to find a beautiful abandoned dayan.

Jeff Goldberg (Fort Collins, CO)

Tabla Dayan Pudi Replacement

Johns teaches tabla at a respected school in Boston, so he needs his drums to be in top form. As you can see below, the puddi on this tabla has got a few too many miles on it. The syahi has begun to crumble.

As is The Drum Doctor's practice, the shell is thoroughly inspected after the drum is disassembled to make sure it's worthy of a fresh drum head. Here's what we found.

You get a look at two knots on the shell from the outside and the inside. I you take a really good look at the inner view of the first knot, you can actually see a bit of daylight (In the middle of the knot, about two thirds of the way down). These knots must be completely sealed before we proceed.

This tabla dayan is now ready to return to its distinguished service.

Steve's Dhina Restored

Steve's dahina suddenly stopped singing. It just seemed to loose it's voice one day for no apparent reason. Everything seemed fine as far as he could tell. It's not as if the climate had suddenly become temendously humid, and there was no visible damage to the drum.

Tablas are notorious for needing constant tuning and over time the drum head and lacing stretch and need to be retightened or they will drop in pitch, but they don't generally turn into absolute duds over night. We suggested there might be damage to the maidan he just couldn't see. You see, tabla pudis have three layers of skins, with the maidan the most critical of the three and situated between the other two layers.

Steve agreed to send us his tabla for repair.

Torn maidan of a tabla dayan drum head.

Once the dahina arrived we confirmed that indeed the drum would not utter even a sour note and the skin seemd intact upon superficial inspection. A close examination however, revealed that our supicions were correct. The maidan had torn away from the gajara.

Here we have pulled out the torn section from between the chat and bharti so it can be seen.

Mystery solved. To work.

Once we ascertained what the problem was this became a routine case of head replacement. The gratitude of our happy clients, however, never becomes routine.

Dr. Tom,

The dahina arrived today just in time to miss the remnant rain from Hurricane Irma, and the new head looks and sounds great! Can't believe how quickly you were able to repair it. Thanks a million, and I'll definitely be recommending you to my tabla-playing friends!

Steve Barnhart (Lewisville, NC)

Stephen's Tabla Gets A Fresh Pudi And Tasma

Stephen also teaches at a university and had several tablas that need their puddis replaced.

Torn tabla dayan drum head. A tabla dayan's pudi with damaged syahi. A tabla dayan with a damaged pudi.

This is one of them.

Obviously, it needs a new drum head, but after disassembling, cleaning and thoroughly examining all of the components we discover that the tasma is on the thin side and quite worn on a couple of spots. The best thing is to go with a fresh strap, as well as the pudi.

Better than new!

A tabla dayan with a new pudi and tasma.

Another Tabla Dayan Repaired

Here's another tabla dayan that needs a new pudi. The tasma looks fine, but we'll take a closer look once we've taken the drum apart.

The lacing is fine, as we suspected, but the shell is going to need some help.

A tabla dayan shell with a severe crack. A view of the crack from the inside of the shell.

This crack cuts through the shell and runs its entire length. It's not as visible from the outside because it's been painted over, but it's quite clear from the inside.

A long crack on the shell of a tabla dayan. The crack runs all the to the inside of the tabla shell.

The same can be said of this second crack.

If we are going to fix this drum correctly, we'll first have to thoroughly seal these cracks. This will ensure the integrity of the shell and the drum's voice.

Consider it done!

A Tabla Set Gets Alot Of Fixing

Greg's tabla needs a lot of help.

A tear on the pudi of a tabla dayan.

The bayan's pudi is blown out. The dayan's pudi just seems aged but a closer look reveals a tear.

The tasma of a tabla dayan has been spliced together.

At some point, the dayan's strap snapped and was spliced together again. It will have to be replaced as well.

So we know from the initial inpection that both drum heads and the dayan's strap will have to be replaced. Let's give this tabla a thorough examination.

A dent on the shell of a tabla bayan.

The bayan shell has a couple of dents. This is a minor problem but it won't be overlooked.

A cracked tabla dayan shell. Close look from inside at the crack on the shell of a tabla dayan.

The Dayan shell has a crack that runs through the shell. Look closely and you'll see the light shine through.

The misformed bearing edge of a tabla dayan. A poorly shaped bearing edge of a tabla dayan.

But even more troubling is the deformed bearing edge. It's critical that the pudi be a good fit for the dayan and set evenly on the bearing edge. It's hard to imagine this dayan ever tuned well.

The bearing edge must be levelled, the crack sealed and the dents taken out before we mount the new strap and drum heads.

It took a lot of work to get this tabla back in shape, but it was worth it.

Another Tabla Set Repaired

Here's a tabla set that's seen a lot of action.

The bayan's pudi is completely gone and the siyahi of the dayan's pudi has begun to disintegrate and buzz horribly.

The tabla must have new heads.

That's what we're here for!