Tuning blocks or wooden gattas play perhaps the most important role in the quality and type of sound that that a tabla produces. Tuning blocks are made to fit under the camel skin straps under and are used for adjusting the basic tune of the tabla heads. The gattas are so perfect that they can be tuned precisely to the desired pitch. Usually these are made are wood turned in a the machine. Tabla gattas are thick for the daaya(right) and quite thin for the baaya (left). They vary in wood type, colour, shape, varnish and design. The left tabla does usually not require gattas but they are extremely useful tools for fine tuning. They are useful in maintaining the changes that the tabla goes through in different temperatures and humidity. The main role of wooden gattas is for adjusting tension in the instrument. The tuning hammer is then used to strike the blocks lightly to make them move up or down simultaneously playing the tabla to reach the desired tune. It is a quick process if you have a note of the same pitch you require playing the background. For example a harmonium. The tuning blocks can drastically change the pitch of the tabla simply by moving them completely up or completely downwards, but finding the sweet spot and adjusting the blocks accordingly gives out the best.
The basic principle of the gatta is that when we pull it downwards it stretches the skin hence making it a thin membrane, which produces high pitch tones. Moving the gate upwards losers the straps and makes the membrane head lose hence producing low pitch sounds. Below are some preferred wooden gattas, one should always remember to buy gattas of good quality wood as the hammer blows can split the wood.
#1 These wooden gattas from BamBah Tabla are the perfect size and fit well under the straps. They come in sets of four, only how much are required for the left tabla. These are extremely easy to use and insert provided you have a good tuning hammer. They are made of sheesham wood which is a dense wood, however the wight on the gattas can be improved to get finer tunes.
border on each edge, giving the tabla an elegant look.
#4 SG musical is the name to recommend for tabla accessories. They never fail to deliver. The same is for these baaya wooden gatta set of 4. They are the longest lasting set of gattas. Tabla masters also prefer to use gattas on their baaya tabla even though it is not recommended. With these on the market, one should definitely add them to the tabla to better the sound.