merican Percussion drums are made of clay with calfskin heads. They're strong and durable, but they do need more care and attention than a standard wood and metal drum with a plastic head.
Two basic rules:
1) Heat: Keep the drum away from continuous heat sources - fireplaces, space heaters, windows, direct sunlight, radiators, hot air vents, closed car sitting in the sun, etc.
2) Storage: Store the drum in a space that is not too dry, and out of reach of anyone who doesn't understand how to treat valuable musical instruments. (Kids, pets ...)
With mistreatment, the drumhead can detach from the drum or, in the worst cases, crack the drum itself. A detached head can be repaired. In some cases a cracked drum can be fixed too, but none of us want this situation to arise.
Basic use and maintenance:
Tuning the drum: If the head is too tight, spray a little water on the head. This will tune it to a lower pitch. To tighten or tune to a higher pitch, use a hair dryer - but very carefully!! A couple of seconds exposure will probably do it. Don't try to tighten the head too much, and don't overexpose the drum to the heat!
Some tuning tips that I've learned over the years.#1- For Clay or ceramic drums; you can heat the clay body or shell of the drum as well which will translocate the warmth onto the head keeping the drum tuned longer. #2 heat the head slowly going around the edges as well as the center to get a more even heat distribution on the head rather than just holding the hair dryer in one spot. This should help to tune the head quicker as well as diminishing the chances of overheating and breaking the head. Depending on the area and climate in which you live (how humid it is) will take different amounts of time to get the tuning that you want. American Percussion now offers a heating pad that has a temperature control built onto the pad. You might want to think about going this route in tuning the heads.The second step also applies to wood shells with real skin heads, AND ALWAYLS TUNE IN SMALL INCREMENTS TO AVOID ANY DAMAGE TO THE HEAD,THE DRUM AND YOURSELF !!!!!
A small sponge comes with each drum. Two uses for it: While the drum is being stored, moisten the sponge and put it inside the drum (through the sound portal); Before playing, rub the moist sponge on the drumhead to loosen it or lower the pitch.
Traveling: The padded gig bag is NOT a road case! Don't stack it with (or under) other instruments in hard cases, or leave it on a chair or other surface someone might naturally expect to sit down on. (The gig bag looks like a pillow, not a fragile musical instrument!) Good traveling procedure; Soak the sponge with water and put it in the drum; Put the drum in the gig bag, and that into a hard shell case.
Final thought: Hopefully it'll never happen to you, but if the drum cracks or breaks, handle it with extreme care as you would broken glass. Cracked ceramic material has very sharp edges and can cause injuries. I'm just telling you.