Tuning & Care


How should I tune my pandeiro?

The most important thing to mention first is that you should always tune your pandeiro evenly around the rim. Some people go straight around in a clock-wise direction and others use a diagonal “zig-zag” approach. What’s important is that it’s tuned evenly, to prevent the rim from pulling down too much on one side of the drum. Use small turns with the tuning key and go around the drum gradually, rather than multiple turns on each hook. As you complete a full cycle around the drum it’s good to test the pitch and if the skin isn’t responding well you can give it a nice hard slap in the middle to get it to “give” a little bit. You can also push down on it with your two thumbs or the heel of your hand, and then continue another cycle around the drum.

What pitch should I tune to?

This is really about personal preference as well as musical context. In general, thicker heads sound better tuned low and thinner skins sound better tuned high, or somewhere in the middle. Synthetic head pandeiros are usually tuned pretty high for samba/partido alto or northeastern styles, but can also be tuned lower for a different kind of effect.



Why do I see so many pandeiro players with tape underneath the skin? What’s that for and why so many variations?

The tape is used to cut unwanted overtones from the head and you’ll see it with both synthetic heads and natural skins. It results in a tighter sound, especially for the open low tones. People experiment with masking tape, cloth tape, electrical tape and even duct tape. The different patterns that people use are really personal experiments as to what works best. Note: it’s important to keep in mind that the heavier and stickier the tape the harder it is to get off. So, it’s best to experiment with a lighter tape and use less of it to start off and see if it gives you the desired result.

What are those plastic discs I see above/below the jingles?

Players use these to reduce the space between in the opening for the jingles. This results in a more controlled (and quieter) sound. Often it allows for the skin to be heard more clearly. If you pandeiro didn’t come with any of these you can cut them yourself – xray film is perfect for this

I’ve heard that some people rub wax on their natural skins. Why?

It’s usually done to make finger rolls easier – especially for skins that are smoother and lack texture. This can be especially helpful in climates with low humidity. Some people also think that the wax ads a layer of protection for the skin – this is questionable. If you’re going to apply any wax you should use bee’s wax and start with rubbing just a little bit on and then scrape off any excess.


Storage & Maintenance

How should I store my pandeiro when I’m not playing it?

Especially with a natural skin pandeiro you should completely de-tune the skin to take the pressure off the frame to help in avoiding warping over time. This releasing of tension can also help the skin to last longer. Store your pandeiro in either a hard case, or well-padded gig bag, and always avoid banging into the jingles which can easily cause damage to them, as well as the frame.
We realize that many of the pandeiros we sell do not come with a case. We are working with the luthiers to try to change this and also hope to offer some third party cases at some point. Until then, you should be able to find them online and if you don’t have something specific for pandeiro we recommend you at least improvise something.

Why does the pitch of my natural skin change so frequently?

Humidity level is what effects a natural skin the most. Very dry air will cause a goatskin to get very tight and rigid, and very humid air will cause it to get very loose. Either scenario can make it challenging to keep it in tune. Often it’s not possible to avoid these climate changes, but when you’re not playing the pandeiro keeping it in a closed case or bag can help. When the problem is low humidity placing a simple guitar humidifier in the case with the pandeiro can really make a big difference.


Changing a skin

If you don’t do it on a regular basis mounting a natural skin head can be pretty tricky. We’ll add more to this section soon, but until then check out this video (in Portuguese) by Eduardo Silva. Eduardo is a great pandeirista who happens to be the son of Celsinho Silva and grandson of Jorginho do Pandeiro.


Changing the jingles

This video (in English) from our friends at HP Percussion will show you all you need to know to change jingles. You can find the HP replacement jingles, as well as their pandeiros here on Pandeiro.com.