How to tune an Alfaia

I cannot recall the amount of people over the years who’ve asked me how to rope and tune alfaias! So, with the help of Gino, here for your viewing pleasure, are 6 videos showing stage-by-stage instructions and handy ‘secret’ tips you might not have known about or considered trying.

Alfaia tuning is not an exact science – and to some degree everyone has their own way of doing it – but the following videos show the methods that have always served me and Juba do Leão well.

Many thanks to Maureliano from Barravento for my initial alfaia construction masterclass, all the batuqueiros who let me film and photograph them sweating and panting tuning their drums in the sweltering Recife sun, and for Alan’s cheeky tips and discoveries! If you have any other tips, feel free to contribute!

Happy tuning, mind your hands!

– Holly

P.S. I have never, do not, and will never work for Barclays. Curse of the free gig t-shirt.

P.P.S. Rest in peace, Lee the cat.

Stage 1: Initial roping, skin soaking & rope twists.

Stage 2: Aligning the head & initial tightening

Stage 3: Drying, when to start tight tuning, beginning the tuning rope pattern.

Stage 4: How far to pull each knot, rope pulling tips.

Stage 5: Rope stretching & finishing off knot work.   

Stage 6: (Secret tips!) ruining laminate…. flooring.