Q. I’m new to tabla playing, and I’m going to be purchasing my first tabla set. I want to know is which would table would be right for a beginner?
A.As a beginner a student not only has to have a good set of tabla but also needs motivation, dedication, strength, stamina and patience. A good sounding tabla will give an instant gratification and will require less effort. Thicker heads may not serve this purpose, and will require a lot more strength. So go for something keeping this in mind. As a beginner, you don’t buy a professional quality tabla until you have practiced for some time.
Technically, some people have used the same tabla for 25 years and more and growing strong with every performance. The secret lies in taking good care of the skin of tabla. The thing to keep in mind is that the head should be in tune with itself with the note you wish to play at, either as an accompaniment to sarode, sitar or vocal. While buying tabla also make sure that the surrounding ring of strap around the head is not so high as it will rub on your wrist and be uncomfortable.
Q. People often complain that their newly bought dayan when tuned in C it crashed within two weeks. Why does this happen?
A. There are many reasons for a dayan to crash like, diameter of head, thickness in skin, thickness in shyie, even the timbre of the wood. There are some dayans that aare crafted in a way that they do not support to be tuned so high. Temperature also plays its role.
It is easiest to get your table tuned C when the diameter is 5.25 or 5.5 inches. If this is not the size of your tabla tell your seller to fix a skins suited to a C for that size dayan. If you keep hammering it up to a C on a wrong size tabla, you’ll eventually rip the skin.
The easiest thing for you to do to maintain a C would be to buy a smaller dayan, the size I have mentioned above.
Q.Does wood thickness, species, or quality of wood used in crafting a tabla, make a difference in pitch?
A.No. The inner diameter or the highest point of contact on the lip under the skin defines the pitch range.
Q Why is quality of wood given so much importance by craftsman?
A. Any wood can be used for making a tabla but only a few are known to make good sets. These are teak, rosewood and, sometimes, jackwood. The quality of wood is important because good wood affects weight and weight affects tonal quality of wood. Plus good wood offer resistance to insects and life of tabla. The wood used for making tabla must have a diameter of around 6″ to 8″, with a length not less than 10″ to 12″.