Conga Drum Anatomy
The following is an anatomy of Conga Drums and an education on how Volcano Drums are built.
Conga drums are traditionally made by assembling all the staves together at once during steam bending. Simultaneously, steel bands are pounded down around the staves to force them into position to form a drum. Consequently, when dry, the staves will always be under stress, wanting to spring back to a percentage of their original position. Coupled with constant changes in temperature and humidity, the joints can be weakened.
This is the primary reason some drums delaminate after time. At V.P. Hawaii, we have found that by pre-steaming each stave individually to their final finished curve before assembly, eliminates all the spring back(stress factor).
Once dried, we insert biscuits, like dowels or splines into all 24 staves to complete their proper joinery. Throughout history, woodworkers have laminated boards together using doweling and splining as added joint strength. Some other makers use steel pins, most use nothing. Glue doesn’t stick to steel pins. They use their pins to aid in assembly. We then assemble drums using resin glue, which is water proof and stronger than the wood itself.
At V.P. Hawaii our drums are left clear of bands to enhance the beauty of the wood grain and colors. As well as there is no reason for bands, since the splines hold the staves together and the staves are also prestressed . Below is a photo of a old popular California competitors drum. The damage which was the result of tension on a bottom aluminum sheet metal band that broke. It could have been prevented if the drum staves weren’t so thin. Note the spring back of the stave created by not compensating for the spring back before assembly. We press-on one solid 1/8”stainless steel band around the bottom of every drum to protect against concussion created by accidental dropping. Then to cushion that, there is a solid rubber floor gasket underneath the bottom of every drum. We offer an uncommon limited 5 year warranty on our drum shells.
Our Handcrafted Custom Traditional Series drum hardware is made of 100% Stainless Steel put thru an 6 step conditioning method and hand-buffed to a Mirror finish. We make 5/16” thick lug bolts which are roll threaded for longest life and provide long lug nuts for ease of adjustment. All conga sets come with a wrench for your adjustments. Our Handcrafted Designer face plates are backed inside with reinforcement plates to sandwich the staves for additional strength. We also have provided rubber bumpers to protect drums from damaging each other as well as the custom floor gasket on the bottom of drums protects the drum from damage and slipping.
The finish is provided by a high grade acrylic polymer, the same as a new car finish. No cracking or yellowing, like other types of finishes. Shells are hand buffed to a crystal clear finish for many years of beauty and lasting protection. The insides are also sanded and sealed to a smooth finish for superior sound with no glue lines.
Our drumheads are made from the finest Texas steerhides. The heads are produced to our specifications and personally chosen for each drum. Also, more and more of our musicians are requesting Remo Fiberskyn 3 heads, so we now offer them as an alternative. They sound great in recording or live and even in damp weather and you don’t need to tune them everytime and their easy on the hands and can be cleaned.
We have spent many years in research and development before ever releasing one drum to the public, to assure ourselves that we make a truly stress free, rock solid & beautiful great sounding drums.
An Old Leading Competitors Drum
Repairing damage caused by tension of staves, which weakened and broke several of their bands. This damage could have been prevented, if they would have prebent the staves before assembly of the drum and have had thicker staves that were splined together.