Djembe recommendations

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bmot
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Djembe recommendations

Post by bmot » Wed Dec 04, 2019 7:24 am

I'm looking to get one for my son, he wants one for Christmas. He's been taking lessons all this year so I'd like to get a good one, and one that he will grow into.

There are some in Thomann within my price range, which is 100-150 Euros. They get good reviews. There are also some smaller importers in Germany, however prices are often higher than my budget.

Any particular advice people can offer? Wood, country is origin, brands (if from a big store). He already knows the size, he plays a 60cm in classes and complains his 45 drum is too short. His current djembe was found on the street after a neighbour threw it out.

Cheers

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Post by brickman » Wed Dec 04, 2019 7:48 am

Worth looking at these :

https://www.novica.com/djembe/s/

I bought one 15 years ago. Absolutely stellar sound, beautifully crafted.

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Post by fac » Wed Dec 04, 2019 9:01 am

I really like the look and sound of the Remo Mondo series (from videos - haven't bought one yet), although some people might say they're not "authentic" djembes (e.g., not rope-tuned, not artisan-made), but I'd trade authenticity for easier tuning/maintenance and better quality control. They're also a bit expensive, but you might be able to find one second hand within your budget.

I have a couple of darbukas and a couple of cajons, and have wanted a djembe for years but then I got into bass guitar and all my money went there. I'm determined to get a djembe (or two) sometime next year.

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Post by stixman » Wed Dec 04, 2019 2:49 pm

My first Djembe was hand built....I chose the drum first, blond colored Mango tree.....then chose either waxed or varnish....so on....I will never part with it so...since then I acquired a Remo Djembe which is really light! Real Djembes can be really heavy...I have 4....different perspective...happy drumming :)

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Post by stixman » Wed Dec 04, 2019 2:50 pm

Double post.
Last edited by stixman on Fri Dec 06, 2019 3:23 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Pugilistas » Wed Dec 04, 2019 3:09 pm

If you are going traditionalist, look for Mali, Guinea, Ivory Coast, or Senegalese djembes. Avoid Ghana, as they tend to use an inferior wood. Indonesian manufacture is erratic.

I personally prefer non-traditional djembes with mechanical tuning, though real goatskin heads sound better to me than the artificial alternatives. Not a member of the one tree - one drum ethos. I appreciate Remo's drum popularizing approach, but there will always be some trade offs there.

My best djembe is lathed out of 800 pieces of wood, with traditional shape and rope tension. I can't physically retension it, but it used maritime rope, so it's held tone very well. Maritime or mountain climbing rope is a sign of serious attention to the drum's manufacture.

I'd prefer getting one from a company that offers a reasonable return policy. Each drum is different, and only playing will tell you if it meshes with you.

Here's a detailed primer on traditional woods:
http://djembefola.com/learn/articles/djembe-woods

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Post by bmot » Wed Dec 04, 2019 3:40 pm

Thanks for your thoughts so far, the article on wood types was really helpful in particular and explained a few things I didn’t know.

I’ll drive to the nearest big music shop on Saturday (Musik Produktiv) and try out a few. Of course, it’s not for me but my son, for Christmas, and it’s daft in a way that he can’t come but he’d only end up wanting the most expensive one anyway. And the surprise would be blown! If I don’t feel right about anything there I’ll consider buying online but it’s really hard to know if what you’re getting is what you think it will be without seeing and trying them

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Post by Estes » Wed Dec 04, 2019 4:49 pm

make sure to buy a peak & hold from CG products so he can play via pickup mic on your modular.

https://soundcloud.com/roblesofficial/peak-hold

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Post by XXXEsq » Wed Dec 04, 2019 10:03 pm

I was a hand percussionist in a band for a while. Congas, Bongos, Djembe, etc. For decent sounding lower end drums, Remo is a good call. For a step up, LP makes some really nice drums. If you want to go all out, I have a Giovanni Hidalgo series Ash Djembe that is absolutely magical. These babies are not cheep, but they are awesome.
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Post by bmot » Sat Dec 07, 2019 10:15 am

Thanks for your advice on this thread. I went to Musik Produktiv, the only large music store within driving distance of me, and tried out all the ones in the store. Ended up getting a traditional wood hand made one from Ghana, made by Terrè. I don’t know anything about the company, but I liked the quality of the body, the sound, and the feel. And I got a bit of money off. It’s not in the class of some of the ones discussed above, but I don’t think it’s sensible spending 300+ just yet, that can come later if he keeps up the interest. In the meantime it’s a vast improvement on the „tourist“ drum we found in the street!

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Post by Pugilistas » Sun Dec 08, 2019 5:03 pm

Congrats! Cool thing to do for you son. Glad you got to test a bunch of drums together to get a feel for what sounded (and felt) good. And the rhythm training is never wasted.

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Post by bmot » Mon Dec 09, 2019 2:23 am

Thanks Pugilistas, however I’m starting to have second thoughts in what I bought. Maybe I’ll take it back.

1. it’s from Ghana, which was suggested above as a poor choice
2. it’s made from Palm wood, which maybe also isn’t the best choice.
3. for not a lot more, I could get an Ivory Coast model from Iroko.

Yes, when I tried them all in the shop I preferred this one, but there wasn’t a lot of choice in the traditional , and I won’t get a modern style. Thomann has some from Africa Percussion made from Iroko for a bit more Cash, perhaps I should order that and compare the two, and keep the best one. I just want to get it right, instrument quality is important to me, and I also know his drum tutor has high standards!

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Post by bmot » Mon Dec 09, 2019 1:07 pm

Hmmm, so I gave in to my insecurity and bought the nicer one from Thomann. Its from Ivory Coast, is Iroko, and the audio samples are good and it’s b stock so it’s a fair bit cheaper than standard price. The other one goes back to the shop,

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Post by Pugilistas » Tue Dec 10, 2019 12:29 am

Found another good guide for Djembes. Learned some stuff there myself.
https://rhythmtraders.com/pages/rhythm- ... ying-guide

I was lucky with my djembe: I had gotten a basic djembe version from this great pair of drummakers. They had made drums for Mexico's percussion ensemble Tambuco. A friend of mine had gotten a top end version. When playing together, he really liked the sound of mine better, so he proposed a straight swap. Both sounded fine to me, so I agreed!

Trained on congas first, and most serious djembe drummers can tell. ;) Congas you play tight, into the drum. Djembes you bounce and flow, pulling the sound out with a flourish.

Just wish I had started at your son's age.

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Re: Djembe recommendations

Post by Pugilistas » Mon Dec 23, 2019 6:22 pm

How did the new djembe turn out?

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Re: Djembe recommendations

Post by bmot » Tue Dec 24, 2019 2:52 am

It's wrapped up and under the tree, I'll find out later today (I'm in Germany, so the presents are given not on 25th but on 24th - after church and after dinner).

But of course I've had a play with it, looks and feels nice to a beginner like myself, and technically it ticks the right boxes with the country of origin, materials, size (not quite as nice as the one I took back). Makes an almighty noise, sorry neighbors!

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Re: Djembe recommendations

Post by bmot » Wed Dec 25, 2019 4:31 pm

Pugilistas wrote:
Mon Dec 23, 2019 6:22 pm
How did the new djembe turn out?
I'm happy to report he loves the new Djembe, and really noticed the difference between the new one and his old one. It sounds awesome, night and day difference between old and new Djembes. I also got him a book of new beginner rhythms which he's been trying out.

Between learning the Djembe and the piano and making sounds on The Reface CS I got him a few years ago, he's enjoying music making every day, it's now a big part of his life and totally his choice to do so, and that makes me a proud and happy parent as that was my number one aim.

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Re: Djembe recommendations

Post by Pugilistas » Thu Dec 26, 2019 2:35 pm

bmot wrote:
Wed Dec 25, 2019 4:31 pm
Pugilistas wrote:
Mon Dec 23, 2019 6:22 pm
How did the new djembe turn out?
I'm happy to report he loves the new Djembe, and really noticed the difference between the new one and his old one. It sounds awesome, night and day difference between old and new Djembes. I also got him a book of new beginner rhythms which he's been trying out.

Between learning the Djembe and the piano and making sounds on The Reface CS I got him a few years ago, he's enjoying music making every day, it's now a big part of his life and totally his choice to do so, and that makes me a proud and happy parent as that was my number one aim.
Glad to hear it was a hit! :)

A good instrument is inspiring, and sounds like he's got a couple. Well done! That Reface CS is a nice one too; sure liked it when I got a chance to play on one.

About to head off to visit my brother and his family -- having to choose which instruments to carry with me. Probably not any of the drums though. I think I'll be a nice guest and only take ones that use headphones....

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Re: Djembe recommendations

Post by fac » Sat Mar 07, 2020 4:46 pm

Just in case anyone's still interested in this thread, I finally pulled the trigger this week and got the 12" Remo Mondo in Adinkra finish. Expensive but totally worth it. Not a traditional or artisan djembe by any accounts, but looks and sounds lovely to me. And it weighs much less than I thought it would; the shell is made of some kind of synthetic material Remo calls "Acousticon".

Anyway, here's the djembe with my family of hand drums (I have another -cheaper- cajon in my office):
IMG_20200307_145253_102.jpg
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Re: Djembe recommendations

Post by hsosdrum » Sat Mar 07, 2020 5:23 pm

fac wrote:
Sat Mar 07, 2020 4:46 pm
Just in case anyone's still interested in this thread, I finally pulled the trigger this week and got the 12" Remo Mondo in Adinkra finish. Expensive but totally worth it. Not a traditional or artisan djembe by any accounts, but looks and sounds lovely to me. And it weighs much less than I thought it would; the shell is made of some kind of synthetic material Remo calls "Acousticon".
According to the Remo website, Acousticon is made from "100% recycled wood-fiber materials, laminated under pressure into a solitary tubular structure. Each drum-shell is impregnated with special resins..." In other words, sawdust and epoxy — similar to MDF. (Not that there's anything wrong with that...)

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Re: Djembe recommendations

Post by Pugilistas » Sat Mar 07, 2020 10:48 pm

fac wrote:
Sat Mar 07, 2020 4:46 pm
Just in case anyone's still interested in this thread, I finally pulled the trigger this week and got the 12" Remo Mondo in Adinkra finish. Expensive but totally worth it. Not a traditional or artisan djembe by any accounts, but looks and sounds lovely to me. And it weighs much less than I thought it would; the shell is made of some kind of synthetic material Remo calls "Acousticon".

Anyway, here's the djembe with my family of hand drums (I have another -cheaper- cajon in my office):

Nice drum family. The black dumbek looks good as well. Remo stuff is built pretty tough, and they support music education strongly. Big plus in my book. And as a great man said, "If it sounds good, it is good."

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Re: Djembe recommendations

Post by mrhooks » Tue Mar 17, 2020 5:56 pm

hsosdrum wrote:
Sat Mar 07, 2020 5:23 pm
According to the Remo website, Acousticon is made from "100% recycled wood-fiber materials, laminated under pressure into a solitary tubular structure. Each drum-shell is impregnated with special resins..." In other words, sawdust and epoxy — similar to MDF. (Not that there's anything wrong with that...)
And it weighs more than real wood, so it's somewhat surprising that fac found it lighter than expected. The drum shell must be much thinner than traditional djembe.
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Re: Djembe recommendations

Post by Voltcontrol » Wed Mar 18, 2020 4:34 am

mrhooks wrote:
Tue Mar 17, 2020 5:56 pm
hsosdrum wrote:
Sat Mar 07, 2020 5:23 pm
According to the Remo website, Acousticon is made from "100% recycled wood-fiber materials, laminated under pressure into a solitary tubular structure. Each drum-shell is impregnated with special resins..." In other words, sawdust and epoxy — similar to MDF. (Not that there's anything wrong with that...)
And it weighs more than real wood, so it's somewhat surprising that fac found it lighter than expected. The drum shell must be much thinner than traditional djembe.
Acousticon is a HPL (High Pressure Laminate).
I assume that because of its structural properties does not need to be as thick as wood to get the same strength and the right sonic properties.

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Re: Djembe recommendations

Post by mrhooks » Thu Mar 19, 2020 11:12 pm

Voltcontrol wrote:
Wed Mar 18, 2020 4:34 am
Acousticon is a HPL (High Pressure Laminate).
I assume that because of its structural properties does not need to be as thick as wood to get the same strength and the right sonic properties.
The only significant experience I have with Acousticon is with one of their drum sets, which I used a few times in school. Their drum shells didn't seem to be much thinner than a standard plywood drum shell, but they were significantly heavier. If it's possible to get the right sonic properties with less thickness, those drums must have been the sonic equivalent of 20-ply shells, which only exist for snare drums.
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