With nothing much to lose, I replaced the rawhide heads with a couple of x-ray films the lab in town gave me to play with many years ago. Free material!
The sound was much improved. To hear the new heads, click on the .mp3 file in the last step.
Step 1: Cutting the Material
The first X-ray head that I made years ago was precisely laid out on paper first. This time, I just traced the top of the drum directly on the film with a white grease pencil and improvised. The process was faster.
Rawhide stretches. X-ray film does not, so the outside edge needs to be cut to allow sections to fold .
It would have been a little easier with longer tabs on the "sunburst", because the material tends to fight going where you want it to go later, and longer tabs are better than too-short ones. These were cutting it a little close, but worked. I had a larger film to cut for the second drum head, and left longer tabs.
Try to keep the sides of the tabs parallel, or narrowing a bit toward the outside, rather than having them widen. If they get too wide, they will interfere with each other when they are bent into the holding rings.