Tympani heads are subject to atmospheric conditions and during cold, dry weather, or when kept in a steam heated room, the heads shrink to such an extent that there is not enough slack to produce low tones. When this occurs, a restretching process is necessary. This is done by removing the counter hoop and moistening the head well on both sides. Repeat this moistening operation two or three times at five minute intervals. The head under this treatment will become very soft. Replace the head on the kettle, and apply tension by means of the hand screws, drawing the counter hoop down about one-half inch evenly all the way around, then cover the entire head with paper, or a cloth, to retard drying. Allow to dry thoroughly (24 to 48 hours). This process restores the proper slack for obtaining low tones.
When the tympani are not in use, do NOT release all tension from the heads. Leave them tuned to A (large drum) and D (small drum) for best results. If the heads become dry and make a cracking noise during tuning, due to friction over the edge of the kettle, first clean the edge of the kettle; then use a dry lubricant, preferably flaked graphite (talcum powder will serve), rubbing it into the edge of the head and the top of the kettle.
Paraffin or wax may also be used but either tends to gum in a few months, requiring cleaning and a fresh application. Do not use any kind of grease, oil, or vaseline or any so-called head restorative on tympani heads.
Tympani heads arc specially processed for use on tympani and are clear and transparent. The use of fresh, live heads is strongly recommended. When the heads become old and dry they should be changed. Hard, dry heads will not produce good tone or proper resonance.
Keep your tympani in good mechanical and playing condition at all times.