Number of loops for best sound?

Advice and questions on making and fixing instruments

Re: How To Fix Bearing Edge

Postby drtom » Wed Jun 21, 2017 10:08 pm

djembefeeling wrote:It might sound like I want to do some aggressive advertisement for this guy's djembes, but I don't. Just want to find out if it is really the number of knots plus all the quality material. I do consider redoing one of my best djembes in that style. Since I do not work with a stand I might die trying :giggle: So I better know if it's worth it...


Seems to me you won't know until you try it, no matter what anyone says.

By the way, I wonder if it makes sense to pursue this discussion in earnest on this thread (titled "How To Fix Bearing Edge"). People coming to the forum seeking advise on the topic are more likely to go to threads titled "Ideal amount of loops".
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Re: How To Fix Bearing Edge

Postby drtom » Wed Jun 21, 2017 10:44 pm

drtom wrote:By the way, I wonder if it makes sense to pursue this discussion in earnest on this thread (titled "How To Fix Bearing Edge"). People coming to the forum seeking advise on the topic are more likely to go to threads titled "Ideal amount of loops".


I'm only wondering out loud. Those with more experience here and on public forums in general may have some insight on this.

I think it's great to keep a discussion going, but I also think it would be good to make topics easy to find (I come seeking knowledge, mostly). I suppose there's a balance somewhere, something like finding the balance between the optimum number of loops and a reasonable expenditure of time and effort. ;)
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Re: How To Fix Bearing Edge

Postby djembefeeling » Wed Jun 21, 2017 11:05 pm

C'mon DT, please let the discussion flow. I wouldn't want to repeat my question the fifth time, and it came up in the discussion. Anyone who has experienced a djembe like that?
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Re: How To Fix Bearing Edge

Postby drtom » Thu Jun 22, 2017 1:09 am

Hey, I'm not the discussion police here DF. :tsktsk:
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Re: How To Fix Bearing Edge

Postby michi » Thu Jun 22, 2017 1:11 am

djembefeeling wrote:Let me ask again, please, even though it has been discussed before. I was perfectly happy with that spacing you mention before, but this guy I met is doing such marvelous djembes and insists that they sound so good because of his tight spacing. He says you need that for a more even distribution of the pull.


I don't buy it. Spacing around 1.5" is what you see all over West Africa. I've looked at many drums that sounded truly awesome, some of them owned by masters, and they used that spacing, too.

I also don't buy the story about the even tension. You won't have even tension even with loads of extra loops because, as you weave, the pull is always strongest near the point of the last diamond. For a while, I used to tune by skipping two or three verticals before pulling the next diamond, and, when the row was complete, starting again but skipping one fewer vertical. That supposedly evens out tension. I stopped doing this because of the extra work and, more importantly, because it wears the rope much more. But I also stopped it because it didn't make one iota of difference to the sound quality.

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Re: How To Fix Bearing Edge

Postby michi » Thu Jun 22, 2017 1:20 am

45 loops is ridiculous.

One real issue with this is that the verticals get a lot longer. Rope typically stretches by around 5% under load. Overall, compared to, say 32, loops, 45 loops create an extra 30–60 cm of stretch. All that stretch has to be taken up by weaving. If there is too much stretch, you run out of room for the weave and have to undo all the weave and re-tighten the verticals. That's annoying, if nothing else. (Only an issue with the first skin because, once it's been loaded, the rope stays stretched.)

Another issue is that, with such tightly packed verticals, each diamond applies less tension, so you need to add more flips to tune up by a given amount.

Now, if someone likes 45 loops and doesn't mind the extra work and cost, by all means, go ahead. It's not going to make the drum any worse (and some people like the look of lots of verticals). But, in my experience, it won't make it better either.

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Re: How To Fix Bearing Edge

Postby djembefeeling » Thu Jun 22, 2017 8:22 am

You just mentioned some of the points that I was wondering about, actually. I foremost asked myself why more knots should result in a more even pull. Typically, when I start pulling a rehead, the first half of the ring is pushed down way easier. I tried to pull really careful, but at some point you have to apply some serious effort and no matter how much I cared before, the rings get a bit uneven and I have to use more force on the other side to even that out. In my experience this isn't really a problem in sound after all rounds and work is done.

The pull of the diamonds is also a good point. You would have to to do a complete round of diamonds for the even pull, which would be ridiculous. But here at least I can see some theoretical benefit. With knots nearly doubled, the effect of uneven pull from diamonds should nearly reduced by half.

Dang! Still don't know what to do. I really don't like the extra work for a more than doubious outcome. On the other side, this guy taught me how to build ngonis and I never experienced someone working with such perfectionism. He is French, but he was worlds more German than I am in this respect. I never even thought you could get such a pull on a skin on a calabash. It's so different from the traditional way of doing it and it contributes to the much better sound, at least he insists it does.

I so much would like to be able to reproduce the quality of that djembe. I don't mind the extra cost of the extra rope, that'd be just 10 € over all. It's the strenuous work. Probably I really do have to give it a try...
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Re: How To Fix Bearing Edge

Postby michi » Thu Jun 22, 2017 10:51 am

Well, my guess is that the outstanding sound is because it's a good shell with a good skin. I doubt that the number of loops is responsible. If 32 loops are good enough for Mamady (and just about every other master out there), I'm content to stick with 32 :)

But, as you say, there no reason why you can't try. It's more work, but not much extra money. If you do, let us know how it goes (especially after two months or so, when you can tell how well it tunes up, and whether rope stretch is a problem).

Cheers,

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Re: How To Fix Bearing Edge

Postby djembefeeling » Thu Jun 22, 2017 11:11 am

Guess I have to do that. I will let you know. The funny thing is the guy claims to have learned most of the important stuff from Mamady. He was a student in Belgium for many years, taking a couple of classes per week and grew very close to him (can I say so?)... Now he lives a third of the year in Africa since ten years.
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Re: How To Fix Bearing Edge

Postby boromir76 » Thu Jun 22, 2017 11:26 am

When it was delivered, the result was just jaw dropping! Never played a djembe like that before! The muffled slaps are unbelievable, they do even sound more intense than the plain slaps. This djembe really forces me into complete relaxation while playing. I always tell my students not to play with brute force but rather with good technique. Now this djembe teaches me what that really means. It sounds ok when I play as usual, but it resonates super crystal clear only when I hit the right spot super relaxed. It feels so fricking different to all the djembes I played before. And it has only two diamonds pulled, yet.


One question DF. Was that the djembe you already had, played and he just rehead it or was this completely new djembe?
The first scenario would maybe reveal that there is probably really something in his aproach that makes superior sound over all previous reheadings, be it because of different number of knots, skin type, preparation of skin or something completely else...

45 knots is really a lot of knots... I wonder if so many pressure points are really esential for acihieving good sound. Would than not be better to have some completely different tensioning system which is physycally more consistent and precise, like the one congas have? It is clumsy, heavy and ugly, but probably superior when it comes to fine tuning and evenes of tension. Personally, I have not heard or seen this system on handmade shells from w africa yet. One reason for this is because there are not many hand made shells which are perfectly rounded and would fit snug into this system. Only heard the meinl and other industrial clamp system djembes, and we all probably know how they sound. ;)
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Re: How To Fix Bearing Edge

Postby djembefeeling » Thu Jun 22, 2017 6:42 pm

That is a new djembe. The one I already had is the one I might rehead with the same technique to find out about the difference in sound.

Regarding the conga tuning system I think it looks ugly on a djembe. But that might result from being accustomed to the system of rope with diamond weaving. Another argument is that the screws can poke into your legs. Typically we hold djembes not like congas. If a conga tuning system on a very good hardwood shell would have superior sound, I think I would definitely go for it, though. That would make reheading so much easier, too, especially when you consider those 45 knots.
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Re: How To Fix Bearing Edge

Postby boromir76 » Thu Jun 22, 2017 10:42 pm

Speaking of alternative tensioning systems, LCE has published a video few months ago introducing something that looks like a prototype of such. It looks like a combination of wooden plywood frame and small ironing tension bolts... It sounds very nice, but with LCE all djembes sound nice anyway.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UkflgIAfX3k
...and to take us litlle a bit back to loop number dillema, take a look at djembe loop spacing in his newest video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D2wate64Jco :smokin:
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Re: How To Fix Bearing Edge

Postby drtom » Fri Jun 23, 2017 2:20 am

michi wrote:I also don't buy the story about the even tension. You won't have even tension even with loads of extra loops because, as you weave, the pull is always strongest near the point of the last diamond.


To me it makes perfect sense that more loops equals a more even distribution of the tension. Of course, if you're going to then pull diamonds on only some of the verticals then that distribution goes out the window.

By the way, am I the only one who tunes a djembe by pulling verticals? Maybe twice I've presented freshly skinned djembes with diamonds. Once with a really thick cow skin and once when the client insisted on diamonds.

michi wrote:For a while, I used to tune by skipping two or three verticals before pulling the next diamond, and, when the row was complete, starting again but skipping one fewer vertical. That supposedly evens out tension. I stopped doing this because of the extra work and, more importantly, because it wears the rope much more.


I'm not getting how this is more work and more wear on the rope.
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Re: How To Fix Bearing Edge

Postby drtom » Fri Jun 23, 2017 2:56 am

michi wrote:45 loops is ridiculous.


More than once I've pulled more than 45 loops. It is WAY ridiculous. And I say that being convinced that more loops is better. But I'm also convinced by the law of diminishing returns.

(You know you're getting old when you find yourself telling the same stories over and over)

michi wrote:One real issue with this is that the verticals get a lot longer. Rope typically stretches by around 5% under load. Overall, compared to, say 32, loops, 45 loops create an extra 30–60 cm of stretch.


This becomes a non-issue for me after the wet pull.

michi wrote:Another issue is that, with such tightly packed verticals, each diamond applies less tension, so you need to add more flips to tune up by a given amount.


Only you would notice. :clap: Great insight.

When I show clients how to pull diamonds I caution them about the second row: the skin is now tighter, the rope is tighter, and the distance between verticals has greatly increased. Each stitch is of much more consequence.
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Re: How To Fix Bearing Edge

Postby drtom » Fri Jun 23, 2017 3:19 am

djembefeeling wrote:Typically, when I start pulling a rehead, the first half of the ring is pushed down way easier. I tried to pull really careful, but at some point you have to apply some serious effort and no matter how much I cared before, the rings get a bit uneven and I have to use more force on the other side to even that out.


Sure. It isn't until you get about half way around that you begin to feel the resistance from the tension you've just added. Knowing how tight to go at the beginning is a skill that comes with experience. Of course, some people have a natural feel for such things.

djembefeeling wrote:Probably I really do have to give it a try...


drtom wrote:Seems to me you won't know until you try it, no matter what anyone says.
Last edited by drtom on Fri Jun 23, 2017 4:07 am, edited 1 time in total.
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