Frequently Asked Questions

Taking care of your new bodhrán

The best way to take care of your Bodhrán is to keep it away from excess and direct heat, for example direct sunlight, radiators etc. this will tighten the skin and then it will not sound correct when you bring it into room temperature. (Take extra special care when travelling especially in cars! Use the boot ) When the skin is new it will take a while for it to soften up and this is where the treatment wax is useful – rub a little on to the skin both front and back* weekly – for about 3 – 4 weeks and you will also find that the more you play the less wax will be needed. The skin will soften and will not be too obvious when the skin is new as it will be quite hard. A little patience is needed as this is a natural product and does not transform overnight (like our own skin). Playing the bodhran as often as you can is actually the best way of having a nice mellow skin as it takes oils from your hands naturally.

How is the word Bodhrán pronounced?

Bodhrán is pronounced Bow-Rawn. The Irish word means deaf or haunting

What is the difference between the 18″ and 16″ bodhrán?

The 18″ bodhrán is the traditional size of the bodhrán with has evolves from the 19th century. It is commonly used by the full time professional as it has a larger area to play on. The 16″ bodhrán PROVIDED IT HAS TOP QUALITY ROUNDSTONE GOATSKIN (From Roundstone) is excellent for tonal quality and is easy to carry. It is excellent to start with or to have as a second bodhrán.

What type of Ink is used to create the hand painted designs?

We use waterproof leather dye and the colours are strengthened by hand mixing of the dyes. The designs do not wear out, fade or deteriorate.


All of the celtic designs are hand painted by Anne Kearns.

Dampening the skin?

With top class Roundstone Goatskin you will always get the deep haunting sound . If a room is hot and the skin becomes to tight then dampen it with two or three tea spoons of water, beer, wine or perspiration on either side of the shin. A little wax every six to twelve months rubbed on just like make up will keep the skin subtle and helps it last a lifetime just like your own skin.

How does the tunable bodhrán work?

I have enclosed a number of close up photographs of our tunable bodhrán which I hope you will find useful. Here is one of the Bodhran 18″Tuneable full bodhrán. This second photo is closer and is of the lower section of the same bodhrán. Finally here is a close up of the tuning knob/knurl.

The skin of the bodhrán is attached to the outer rim.Using the tuning knob/knurl. It is possible to move the inner rim in the direction of the skin.This will tighten the skin. By loosening the knobs/knurl again the inner rim will retract away from the skin and the tension across the skin will lessen and pitch of the skin will become lower.
To tighten or loosen the tuning knobs you just use your index finger and thumb or you can just roll a finger across the knob/knurl.

A tunable bodhrán will allow you to easily alter the pitch of the bodhrán . When playing for a long periods of time, at a pub or on stage the surroundings, particularly heat can tighten the skin of your bodhrán.By loosening the knobs/knurls you can lower the tension so maintaining a balanced sound throughout the night. Also I find it particularly useful when changing from playing with a group to doing a duet with whistle or flute to tighten the knobs so raising the pitch just a little. This softens the tone of the bodhrán just a little.

If you would like the opportunity of having your music played on the radio in the USA I have a good friend in Florida who is always looking for the pure drop.! His name is William Ramoutar and his radio program has been on the air for 25 years now since he left Ireland. He plays Traditional Irish/Celtic music both instrumental And vocal. He prefers hard copies And if you are interested I have his information.

Ireland’s Master Bodhran Maker

Roundstone Musical Instruments is the studio and shop of renowned bodhrán maker Malachy Kearns, or Malachy Bodhrán as he is fondly know. The Bodhrán is one of the oldest Irish musical instruments, a one sided hand held drum that is made through traditional methods using treated goat’s skin stretched onto a Birch frame. Colourful designs are hand painted onto the bodhrán including by request family crests.

Malachy has handmade all of the bodhráns used in Riverdance over the past 25 years.

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