How to Carve the Inside of a Taiko Drum

carving tools
--Photo by Steve Snodgrass
One of the many trade secrets of drum-making is what’s done with the inside surface of the drum. People may rarely if ever see the inside walls of a taiko drum, which is unfortunate, because that’s often where the pros really exude their craftsmanship. To optimize the ring and sound quality of the drum, pros carve elaborate patterns and designs on the inside wall. What these patterns are seems to differ with each builder. Further, some professionals will coat the entire inside-surface with thin sheets of gold to further improve the quality of the resonation. The inside surface could indeed be the most beautiful part of a taiko drum, but no one may ever get to see it.

That said, for the casual drum-maker, inner carvings aren’t necessary unless it’s just for learning purposes. This is because you’ll only notice a difference in sound quality if the rest of your drum is perfectly made. If for example, you’re using mediocre wood, or if your skins aren’t top-notch, the effects of inner carvings may be negligible.

I know too little about this process to recommend anything specific, but don’t let that stop you from experimenting. Gold sheets might be a little much, but if you have a hand-lathe or other carving equipment, carving patterns might be something you’d like to try.


  1. Anonymous5:56 PM


  2. Hi! It`s very interesting! I`ve never red such things about Taiko bodies.
    Your blog is interesting and helpfull, and there is a lot of topics. But can you tell something about preparing skin for Taikos? I make drums and prepare skins for them by myself, but Taiko heads look kinda strange. First of all, they are bright white. My cow skins are light grey or light yellow. Are Taiko heads whitened or maybe painted? And at some photos heads seem to have a pearlamoutre gleam. Can you tell me, is it really so and how it is achieved?
    Thank you again for your blog!

  3. Sasha, check out the link below for some info about preparing skins.

    The whiteness is achieved during the prepration process when soaking the skins in lye. Though some groups do paint their drum surfaces, I think you'll get better sound if you leave the skins alone. Good luck!