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I was recently on vacation and saw a "thunder drum" in a gallery.  I thought it was wonderful.  Does anyone know how to make these, what is inside that makes the wonderful thunder sound?
Inquiring minds want to know.

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Nothing inside. A hollow gourd with some cutouts in the sides to allow sound to escape. The bottom is cut off flat and sanded to be perfectly flat. Then a sheet of poly carbonate? is added by glueing it over the bottom opening and trimmed to the outside shape of the gourd. Pierce a tiny hole in the center of the poly carbonate sheet and twist a very flexible, tightly wound spring into the hole approximately five full turns. Glue the spring to the poly carbonate sheet right where it goes through the tiny hole.

I got my materials from Ron Swank. Ron is from Idaho and recently taught classes on how to make the Thunder Drum at the WSGS Northwest Gourd Festival. Ralph Irish in Illinois also makes the drums.

Can I use membrane (calf or goat?) skin head to make the thunder drum?  I think I bought the wrong product at Cherokee.  I maybe should have just bought the poly carbonate head and trimmed it.  Which is the better product for making a thunder drum????

Linda Lantz

You can use goat rawhide or the polycarbonate sheet. There is no right or wrong. People are using both for making thunder drums. The poly is faster and easier to work with is one consideration. But it's really a matter of your choice.

Thank you so much for the info on thunder drums. I will have to give this a try, it sounded just like the storms we were experiencing while in Idaho this past week.
Bonnie, one last question about the thunder drum. You said that you bought your supplies from Ron Swank, does he have a web site? I have to find one but have been unsuccessful.
Ron's contact information is on the homepage of the Idaho Gourd Society. His business is Rising Sunflower Flutes(and Thunderdrums). He's a schoolteacher, currently a counselor, I believe, in the Knappa? Alternative School. He makes and plays beautifu flutes from both gourds and wood. When he played one of his flutes in his booth at the WSGS Fest in Moses Lake, WA, the whole building stopped to listen and everyone was smiling when they heard his Thunder Drums. My sister and I felt like he and his brother were our sons by the time the fest was over. Nice, nice guys! We're hoping to see Ron again at Wuertz teaching in February!
If you google Rising Sunflower Flutes you'll get his site & e-mail
Thank you so much.

Nancy, I began my journey with thunder-gourds with information from J. D. Thompson's site...he gives the very basics, but that's what I needed at the time.  I appreciate the fact that Jim gave sources and specifics in his info.


or type in thunder gourds J. D. Thompson (Google) and that should get you there.

I have posted some of my thunder work on GAE - enjoy.   Marty

I have made an ocean drum which is really cool. The ocean is metal "shot" inside the gourd. The gourd has a drum head so you can play it as a drum or rock it back and forth and it sounds like an ocean

Has anyone experienced a finished Thunder Gourd that sounds flat? Or just doesnt reverberate? This year I've made a lot of Thunder gourds. But I've had 3 or 4 that just didnt sound good when finished. I've tried replacing the skin, shrinking the drum head longer to make it tighter, creating larger areas for sound to escape. I've even ruled out cracks and uneven bottoms, but to no avail. What is really strange is that they have all been bottle gourds and they all "looked" beautiful (not my words, but a fellow artist). I cant figure out what it is. Has anyone else had experiences like these and what have you found to prevent or fix the problem? 


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