Making a Beater

some tipper designs The 'beater', 'tipper' or 'hammer' is the stick used to hit the bodhran while playing. It can be made out of virtually anything. Hardwood is often used because of its weight and durability. Any hardwood will do - I've seen maple, walnut and oak beaters. Softwood will work although it's lighter and will dent slightly if you like to tap the rim while playing. Most beaters are turned on a lathe, but you can hand carve one that will work just as well. Beaters are commonly seven to nine inches long, but it's O.K. to experiment with length. Kevin Conneff, bodhran player for the Chieftains sometimes uses a really long beater (looks to be about 10-12 inches), while the bodhran player for 'Four Men & A Dog' uses a teeny, tiny beater (looks almost like 4-5 inches!). Thickness can also vary quit a bit. I like a beater that is about 3/8ths of an inch in diameter where you hold it, but I've seen some fairly thick ones. If you're not fussy about looks, a piece of hardwood broomstick with the ends rounded and grips rasped into it works great. I've also seen plastic beaters, and I'm sure that an animal limb bone of the right size would serve the purpose, too. The most important thing to keep in mind when making a beater is to sand away any abrasive or sharp areas which could puncture or scratch the drum skin when playing. Some bodhran players forgo the use of a beater entirely and just hit the drum with the knuckles of their hand.

Recently, it has become popular among bodhran players to use a drum-kit brush (jazz snare-drum brush). The result is actually has a rather nice, quiet dusty sound, and is especially good with low-whistle. I think there are some people making these things commercially, but many players just make their own versions, with a bodhran beater tip at the top end and a brush at the lower end. Try duct-taping a snare-drum brush to a spare bodhran beater and see how you like it.

how to hold a bodhran beater

photo showing how I hold the beater

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