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I have a cuica I am learning to play and want to make sure there are no maintenance issues obstructing my practice. It's a very temperamental instrument - it can require slight adjustments in technique each time you play it and each cuica is different - so I'd like to learn how to care for it so I can further hone in on technique for mine.

How do you maintain a cuica in good playing condition? Is there an accessible guide on the subject? Portuguese or English would work for me.


Vague info I have found so far:

  • I have heard to oil the drumhead in one YouTube video, with no further explanation.

  • This cuica chaos blog post describes an expert who has advice on how to maintain the cuica in various ways, including oiling the stick - but no further detail or contact info is there.

  • I've been told by musicians to loosen the drum head in cases of long-term storage or extreme temperatures. This is the only maintenance I do so far since I transport it in the cold sometimes and try to loosen the head if it will be in the cold for more than a couple of hours. Retightening the head is not easy (the tightening key often gets stuck on the bolts) so I avoid keeping it in the cold and sometimes neglect loosening it when I do need to keep it in the cold for a while.

  • I've heard that what cloth you use and how you lubricate it is very important. When I bought the cuica I was told to use kerosene but that didn't seem like a great idea for regular use (it can dry things out and I don't have kerosene regularly laying around), so now I use water as others have recommended. I've experimented with vegetable oils as well but water seems good as long as I can keep the cloth wet. Mainly, I've stuck with the same cloth - a cut 2"x2" edge of a cotton napkin.

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My friend plays a rommel pot, set up very much like a cuica. The maintenance on it is very much like any natural skin head drum, so any guide on maintaining skin drums (doumbek, djembe etc) should apply.

You would keep the stick oiled to keep it from drying out and splitting, as well as making it resistant to the moisture when you are using a damp rag.

My friend actually uses a dry, violin rosined cloth for one of his instruments. The other he uses a damp rag on, I don't think he is too particular on what type of rag.

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