This is a short guide to buying an Irish bodhran. The information here is pretty general; don’t hesitate to contact me should you need any more specific information.
What size?
The standard size of Irish bodhrans is 18 inches, or about 46 cm. The frame is generally about 9-12 cm deep.
The 16 inch bodhran, about 40 cm, is becoming more and more common. The smaller size makes this instrument easier to manipulate, without losing much of the sound quality of the larger instrument.
14 or 15 inch bodhrans are sometimes used for their higher sound. In general, instrument smaller than 14 inches or larger than 18 inches are little used.
For a deeper sound, you can choose a deep-rimmed bodhran (up to 20 cm). Several makers make these types of instrument.

What skin?
Goatskin is the skin of choice for bodhrans. Cheaper instruments may sometimes have calfskin, whose sound and durability is inferior to that of goatskin.

Tuneable or fixed?
A bodhran skin canbecome tighter or looser sith changes in temperature and humidity. With a fixed-head bodhran, you will need to wet the skin skightly if too tight, and heat it if too loose.
With a tuning system, a bodhran can be tuned without heat or water. This is generally much more practical, especially in a performance situation.

The beater
There is a vast variety of different beaters of different shapes and sizes. A longer beater (22-23 cm) is generally easier to play with.

How much?
To give an idea of price, you can expect to pay about 50 euros for a fixed-head bodhran, and from around 100 euros for a tuneable. Hand-made bodhrans can start at 100 euros; in general, for 200 euros you will have an excellent instrument.

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