This old tambourine


This old tambourine might have been mine for 20 years. I really don’t know when I bought it, but I can’t remember a gig without it for a long time now. If it’s been around only a decade (I’m sure it’s been longer), that means it’s been played in close to 400 or so shows and countless practices.

This old tambourine is beat to hell. It’s missing seven jingles, worn away over time from violent thrashing. An eighth jingle hangs on precariously. Eventually, the wire support in the middle cuts through the jingle and you’re just playing along one day and the jingle takes high-velocity flight and might land several yards away. Nobody’s been hurt. Yet.

This old tambourine sounded great once, but not so much any more. You might think all tambourines sound exactly the same. They don’t. Some don’t cut through the mix; some sound cheesy; some sound like toys. This one knew how to make that BAM noise and also could make a beautiful continuous soft shake.

This old tambourine is chipped and frayed. I’ve stomped on it, beaten it with sticks, smacked it off surfaces, and generally just tossed it on the floor next to the mic stand before gigs. The chambers that hold the jingles are worn around the edges and in the middle. All of the remaining jingles are tarnished from sweat and beer and rain and barroom misadventures.

I retired this old tambourine today. I bought a replacement that I like even better, even though I might I like it better in the way that you like new things over old things at first, but the old tambourine was honestly starting to sound odd and thin. It was time.

This old tambourine went into my music tool chest with various other toys that I sometimes use and sometimes don’t. I couldn’t bring myself to throw it away. The new one went into the place of honor in the gig bag, and I don’t think the two will swap places again. But the old one had its time of service. Time for a new tambourine and new adventures.


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