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Drum Buying Guide

Things to Consider When
Buying A Hoop Drum

Ease of Playing & Transporting
Colors / Decorations
The Drum's Voice

shaman drum 12-inch horsehide with beater
thunder valley drums LOGO
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  • The easier it is to pack and carry.

  • The lighter in weight it will be.

  • The higher its voice will be.


  • The deeper its voice will be.

  • The greater its heft will be, relatively speaking, as all of these drums are made of strong yet lightweight laminated frames.


  • The richer its voice will be. (That's why Shaman Bob uses very deep frames on most of the Hoop Drums he makes.)

Hoop drum frame comparisons

NEW! 20-Inch Drums!

Now Available!

Examples of plain and decorated drums and sticks
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About The Decorations


A most unique service!

When you choose to purchase a Decorated Hoop Drum, Bob will correspond with you about your choices of colors, materials and other things.

Some prefer not to get so involved in the process, and that's fine too. Bob will happily handle it all!


Your satisfaction is guaranteed!

shaman drum decorated
K 20 inch decorated elk drum
hummingbirds graphic


Important Note About Painted Drums

Due to unforeseen circumstances, I will not be able to offer painted drums until further notice. Many thanks for your patience and understanding.


Some More Details & Factoids

Who? What? ... and Why Wait?


Thunder Valley Drums are made by Shaman Bob and other American drum masters. Bob will make a drum specifically for you and discuss it with you before he makes it. Yes, he is old-fashioned for that!

He prefers to make your drum after he contacts you via email (he really does this!) to inquire about your intended use for the drum (like in ceremony, or drum circles, or whatever), and in that way it  becomes YOUR drum because your energy influences his hands when he makes it.

He also assures that your drum is properly and respectfully prepared for you through various rituals and ceremonies to cleanse and energize your drum.

And finally, others may have ordered drums before you ordered yours, so he makes them in the order that orders are received. Thus, it can take some time to make your drum. Once you receive your drum, though, you will know for sure that it was worth the wait!

20 inch decorated drum in shipping box

You can expect your drum to take about 2 - 4 weeks to be finished. It's worth the wait!

a detail of a lightning drum

More Details, Please


Bob makes all TVD drums listed here as "Shaman Bob's Drums." He also chooses the other drums you see on the site that are made by other master drum makers. All hoop drum frames are made for Thunder Valley Drums with the requirement for sturdiness and lightweight qualities that will allow you to play your drum longer and not get tired!

He makes the frames for Lightning-Struck drums himself from lightning-struck trees. Rawhide on drums is buffalo, goat, elk, deer, cow or horse (these last two are the only hides available for international orders / beyond U.S. borders), depending on availability. All of these are combined into drums considered to be sacred expressions of the wheel of life and honored partners in the search for spiritual healing and union.

The Budget Drums are American-made to Bob's specifications. (Please see individual listings for whether a drum can be exported beyond U.S. borders.)


Attention to details and quality materials make all the difference in a Thunder Valley drum.

Wonderful Natural Drum Heads


Owning a drum made from natural materials is a partnership of care, respect and deep reverence. Together, the two of you are healers and seekers, and it all begins by taking care of each other.

It is in the routine and ritual of caring for another that the richness of life emerges. Bob and his friends make the drums very strong and yet, any drum with a natural hide drum head will tend to lose some of its tone in rainy or very humid weather. It is a part of its natural qualities and adds to its personality. In shaman circles, the drum's voice is often secondary to the drum's rhythm. 


Yet, the drum can be tuned easily by slightly heating the drum head a few minutes in the sun, under a lamp, near a campfire, or even with a hairdryer or rapidly rubbing your hand over the drum head. You can hold your drum against your chest, too, to add some drying heat and a lot of heart!

You will receive full details for taking care of your drum at the time of your purchase.

shaman drum 12-inch deerhide

"Many, many thanks for visiting Thunder Valley Drum's 'Hoop Drum Buying Guide.' May I answer any more of your questions?"


About Sound Files


Hoop drums made with all natural materials will vary in sound because the animal hide used for the drum heads varies in thickness and texture. The sound files on this site, then, will probably differ slightly from the sound of your particular drum, although they are good guidelines. Also, your device's speakers may alter the sound, too. And let's face it, Bob is a drum maker, not a recording expert!


a shaman-type drum from Thunde Valley Drums

These drums are wonderful for Reiki, meditation, therapy, drum circles and ceremony.

Three Final Thoughts

(Please read, this is equally important):

1. It is key to note that both a 10" and a 12" drum is considered small. The first is one is an inch shorter than a standard sheet of paper is long (11"). The second is only one inch longer. So, to get an idea of its size, simply look at a sheet of paper and imagine it one inch longer.

Both are great drums for their size, making them easy to transport in suitcases, bags or even a large purse for the 10" drum. Being lightweight, each allows you to hold it in playing position for a long time without tiring. But their size dictates their voices, so don't expect a big booming sound from either drum. Trust me, they will project their beautiful voices perfectly for their sizes.

2. All natural drums are made from the hides of animals. In the sacred traditions of shamans, it is said the animals present themselves to provide sustenance and to aid humans with food, clothing and spiritual growth. In return, humans provide their own bodies back to the Earth Mother to continue the Great Wheel of Life across multiple generations of lifeforms.

3. Because these drums include animal hides, you may notice a scar, scratch or other imperfection in your drum. These imperfections do not affect the sound of a drum, else I would not use them. These marks are the results of the animal's life experience in the wild. When you think about it, we all carry scars of one sort or another, inside or outside in our own life experiences. The point is that we should respect and honor the animals for what they give to us. Their own last full measure was gifted to us to aid our development and wisdom. Natural drums are among the greatest of teachers because of this.

Aho & Namaste,

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