Advice for purchasing a Djembe.
Choosing a qualified Djembe instructor - Djembe Learning tips
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- The shell should be made out of a single piece of wood, which delivers the finest sound.
- A Djembe should be built out of traditional West African wood. These Djembe woods are chosen for their resonance, density, and other important properties. They cannot be found in North America or elsewhere, only West Africa, where the Djembe originates from.
- The head should be made out of Goatskin from West Africa - You can usually see a line from the goat’s spine across the middle of the Djembe head, which is a good sign of real goatskin.
West African goat skins are known to have special properties due to the kind of food the goats eat, as well as the hot and humid climate. These factors will provide skins with higher resistance, stretching capabilities suitable for a Djembe. Any synthetic type of head just won’t do it, and non-African goatskin heads will only provide a much lower sound quality.
- The shell and head should be assembled with a total of 3 iron hoops, together with rope. Any kind of metallic screws cannot equal the traditional rope assembly method.
- A non-stretching rope must be used to assemble the Djembe. This maintains permanent tension and makes fine-tuning the Djembe an infrequent procedure. If not, a rope of poor quality would mean tuning your Djembe all the time!.
Whether you are planning on playing regularly or only occasionally, buying a non-traditional/modern Djembe look-alike is not worth it. You will thank yourself down the road, if you purchase a lifetime authentic Djembe assembled in West Africa. Your purchase will be supporting the African craftsmen who have been working hard on each and every single Djembe for generations.
Furthermore, North American Djembe-like hand drum manufacturers, often use Djembe tuning as one of the deterrent to have novice players stay away from purchasing an authentic Djembe. The only thing you may need to do on a quality authentic Djembe is the easy final tuning steps explained on our website (See Slide show under the "Djembe tuning and care" section). Tightening of the vertical ropes is only done once by the craftsmen/seller, since it is part of the Djembe original manufacturing procedure.
Another deterrent used by most Indonesian Djembe-like drum resellers is the unfounded West African Djembe deforestation contribution effect. While Indonesia is at the top of the list of countries with critical deforestation problems, there are evidence that Djembe producing in West Africa has no contribution to deforestation if compared to all other wood industries. Some Indonesian Djembe-like drum resellers legitimize their wholesale business by making you believe that their drums come from supposedly Indonesian legally harvested wood, while Indonesian forest are being officially decimated.
The number of Guinean / Malian authentic West African Djembe Imported into North America is insignificant compared to the number of Indonesian Djembe-like drum that you can find in most music or craft stores all over North America. The truth is that it is considerably cheaper and easier to import low grade Djembe-like instruments from Indonesia, that importing authentic professional Djembes out of Guinea or Mali West Africa.
Indonesian Djembe-like resellers are silently getting a maximum profit at the expense of our environment.
There are a wide variety of Djembe-like drums on the market that are sold as Djembes.
Djembe look-alike drums are sometimes more expensive than Djembes because of the cost of materials used to make them look like authentic handmade West African Djembes.
The Djembe is at least a millenia old, a musical instrument which originated in West Africa, more precisely the region of Guinea and Mali of today. Recently, neighboring countries have also started to produce and play this phenomenal instrument. Now, the entire African continent has embraced the instrument. Eventually, imitators other countries in the world started attempting to built and mass produce the Djembe without fully understanding its manufacturing process (mainly Indonesia...North America...etc).
As you can imagine, none of these countries will ever match the expertise developed over 1000 years of building and perfecting the instrument in the Guinea and Mali area.
If you want a real Djembe, buy from someone who goes to the source and can prove it!
Indonesian or North American imitation drums with plastic heads, and mounting screws do not allow the player to play the different sounds on the head. Think of it as a guitar where all the strings are the same, and have the same tension. What's the point of having a guitar with multiple strings if they are all playing the same notes? In the same way, what's the point of playing on a drumhead that can only make a limited number of sounds?
Most North American drum resellers commonly call "African Djembe" any drum with a shape resembling an authentic Djembe.
I have seen far too many websites selling Djembes supposedly from Africa that do not have a single part from Africa - Many other website are selling a handful of lower grade African Djembe together with Djembe look-alike from Bali-Indonisia, while telling you that all these Djembes are from Africa.
Beware.. this is what most of the online web sites do !
There are also far too many websites with Videos, rhythm notations, or instruction books that are made by individuals who have not studied Djembe drumming.
Be cautious when reading about the Djembe on the Internet, there is a lot of misinformation. Only use reliable sources like our web site and very few others.
We are from Guinea, and based in Toronto Canada.
We have the best authentic professional Djembes.
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buying a djembe buying guide
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Online Djembe lesson and Djembe instruction video are not a good way to be introduced to Djembe drumming. Djembe rhythm notation should always be followed by live face to face lessons. Djembe secrets will only reveal themselves to the most disciplined and dedicated students, and Djembe online instruction, as well as Djembe instruction DVD provides little to no help.
The drum circle is a relatively new phenomenon inspired from the African djembe ensemble which uses Djembe drum unlike in drum circle which uses any drums.
Authentic Djembe or Professional Djembe is required to play in a djembe percussion ensemble.
You can find many djembe drums for sale on the market, and it’s not easy to choose which one to get. African Djembe drum among other instruments are widely used in drumming circles
And Djembe jam.
Best Djembe are Guinea Djembe without a doubt, and finding a djembe for sale is no easy task.
Djembe sale online has grown to many websites selling products with the name African Djembe, though they have absolutely no material from Africa, nor are they built in Africa.
Examples of non African Djembe sites can be found all over the internet
Djembe sale has became a very lucrative business with the emergence of poor sound quality Fiberglass/Plastic head look alike Djembe in almost all drumming circles.
Learning to play cannot be achieved in drum circles with plastic or fiberglass djembe, and Djembe secrets will only be revealed through hard work with a real West African instructor face to face. Buy Djembe today and get started.
djembe drum sale - wood djembe discussion
djembe music and Djembe playing
Traditional Djembes used to be mounted with a different system with no vertical ropes, and no iron hoops. Instead, the head was kept in place using wooden pegs, and later a rolled piece of animal thick skin going through pierced holes in the shell (Antelope / Cow...). Iron hoops are a recent Djembe enhancement driven by specific needsn of the Guinean "national ballet" professionals touring the world. In Guinea, Djembe fine-tuning used to require the skin to be heated by a fire. The iron hoops and non-stretching rope were introduced to allow a permanent tension, so that the Djembe would always be ready to play in any environment, such as indoor performances.
- The weight of a Professional Djembe should be from 5-10Kg (11-22Lbs!), sometimes even more. Any full-sized Djembe significantly lighter than 5kg is most likely not a real instrument.
- The height of a professional Djembe should roughly be between 23" and 24.5", while the diameter of the head should be close to 13.5". Any Djembe with a head significantly smaller than 12" is only an instrument for children. Please note that bigger does not necessarily mean better within the range of professional Djembes. The height of the Djembe should be selected according to your own height. The size of the head of the Djembe should be selected according to the size of your hands - All our professional full sized Djembes have an average head diameter of 13.5 inches, and an average height of 24.5 inches which fits 99% of people
- The important factors in building a Djembe with a high-quality sound are the combination of the type of wood used and its density, the shape of the inside of the shell, the weight and proportion of the shell, the quality and how thick / thin the skin is for a particular shell, together with its overall assembly method. This is why we recommend only purchasing Djembes hand-made and mounted by expert West African craftsmen.
Before choosing a Djembe teacher / instructor:
- Make sure your teacher is playing a real West African Djembe.
If he / she is playing any other synthetic head drum or non wood shelf drum, your teacher is most likely not qualified to teach you West African rhythms.
Any qualified teacher should know that you cannot learn on any synthetic type of head.
- Make sure your teacher has clear notes when playing the edge of the Djembe (Tone and Slaps), and that you can hear a difference in the notes played on the edge.
If you don't hear the difference, this would also mean that your teacher most likely does not have the level to be teaching you.
- Make sure your teacher can name the rhythm of the pattern he is teaching you, as each pattern has an associated rhythm. If he / she is making up its own patterns, again, he/she is most likely not a qualified teacher.There are thousands of set patterns to choose from in the mandingue repertoire, so inventing your own is unnecessary.
Djembe buying guide video - Further information in the following article
Best authentic Professional African Djembe drum from Guinea in Ontario Toronto
Best authentic Professional African Djembe drum from Guinea in Quebec Montreal
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This is a DJEMBE, (NOT a bongo drum) !
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Djembe Buying guide - Advice for purchasing a Djembe
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