What is the difference between skin types?

The difference between skin types is based on the animal’s geographic location, genetics, diet, gender and  processing methods.

Black Gold™ Buffalo- Brazilian, warm tones, rich bass, medium action, slightly dimpled supple playing surface, not to be confused with Water Buffalo found on most factory made drums.

Fat Cat™ Buffalo- Middle Eastern Nili Ravi, dry/woody tones, low action at thickness above 2.5mm, slightly dimpled and dense playing surface, ideal for folkloric styles, not to be confused with Water Buffalo found on most factory made drums

Horse- Peruvian, very crisp slaps, bright and resonant tones, has lively action, ultra smooth and forgiving playing surface, tough yet thin skin for high tuning- especially bongo macho

Steer (Middle East)- Middle Eastern Steer, warm and classic with crisp slaps, round open tones, rich bass, controlled overtones, live action, smooth and somewhat supple playing surface, most versatile skin type we offer, ideal for live and studio, our shop favorite for congas and bongo hembras

Steer (Peru)- Peruvian, crisp slaps, round open tones, rich bass, highly controlled overtones, warm and classic, medium action, ideal for studio

Ultra Thin Calf- Middle Eastern, very crisp slaps, very bright and resonant, perfect for timbales, drumset, frame drums, tambourines, pandeiros, djembes and many other drum types

A steer is a castrated male, a cow is a female, and a bull is a male. The main difference in the tonal quality of the skins comes from the level of the testosterone in the animal. Testosterone in bulls produces a hide that is thick, dense and tough.

When it comes to the rawhide, there is very little difference between cow and steer. Most tanners will tell you they can’t tell the difference between them after the hide has been processed. The way that they are processed can make more of a difference in the look, feel and sound than the sex of the animal. I have found that mostly what people want when they ask for cow is a skin that looks lighter in color. The color is due to processing with lime or certain other chemicals, and it also gives a different sound characteristic than the way our steer skins are processed.

Bull rawhide is normally much thicker and harder than steer or cow. I don’t normally use bull for drums because it doesn’t resonate as freely, is harder to get a good sound from, and can be very hard on the hands.

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