Number of loops for best sound?

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Re: How To Fix Bearing Edge

Postby drtom » Fri Jun 23, 2017 3:52 am

boromir76 wrote: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.


That does sound nice but hard to judge, because to me he's drumming well but not really playing djembe.

My guess is that's a fairly typical key-tuned system with a cover to prevent the hardware from poking.

boromir76 wrote:...and to take us litlle a bit back to loop number dillema, take a look at djembe loop spacing in his newest video:


Well, my guess would be under twenty loops on a large djembe. Not sure if you're giving it a yay or a nay, but I give it a nay. Sounds synthetic, but I know that faithful recordings of djembes can be difficult.
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Re: How To Fix Bearing Edge

Postby boromir76 » Fri Jun 23, 2017 7:39 am

My guess is that's a fairly typical key-tuned system with a cover to prevent the hardware from poking.


Iron frame with added wood would have to weigt a ton. I hope the frame is made just from wood, with only iron tightening bolts, otherwise I don't see much benefits and progression in this design. Plywood is very strong, it looks way better than iron and it can be much nicely shaped to a not perfect djembe shell. That would be my speculation on reasons to make such design. I could be wrong.

Sounds synthetic, but I know that faithful recordings of djembes can be difficult.


It is a matter of taste, but to me it sounds nice. I like this overtoned, edgy, ruff, resonant almost a litlle metallic sound with long sustain that only biger djembes can produce. I know it will probably not get many fans among the ones who like more staccato, crisp, clean sound. :)
Last edited by boromir76 on Fri Jun 23, 2017 10:05 am, edited 7 times in total.
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Re: How To Fix Bearing Edge

Postby djembefeeling » Fri Jun 23, 2017 8:59 am

I also like the sound of that big djembe. My guess is 18-20 loops max., astonishing. Those big djembes have a nice raw touch to it, reminds me of Mali sound. The wood-iron-combination I don''t like that much. But as DT said, it's tricky to judge from recordings. Djembe is hard to capture, the sound spectrum is so wide. LCE always plays with such ease, even though he reminds me a bit of a song from the band Right Said Fred: I'm too sexy for my ...(djembe) :giggle:

drtom wrote:By the way, am I the only one who tunes a djembe by pulling verticals?

Of course not. I think Michi is doing that, too. But once you are done with the djembe and give it to clients, they will finally tune up the djembe after some time. That's when the diamonds come in. I like a good pull on the verticals. But sometimes, for some reasons, you can pull them hard and the djembe doesn't tune nice. Then the law of diminishing returns tells me to do diamonds. When the rope somewhere in the system looks fragile and the client doesn't want to pay for a relacement, I also rather put less force on the verticals but work with diamonds. Reheading with calf skin also brings me to the limits of vertical pull.

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

You seem to pull the wet skin hard! But rope stretch isn't that much of an issue for me, either. Not because I do a tremendous wet pull. but because I pull hard after the skin dried and then I let it rest for a couple of days and repeat that process. The wet pull for me is only to bring the ring in place. Do you stitch the skin together before you pull, so the ring doesn't move that much?

drtom wrote: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.

True, I am not a natural in this, though roughly 300 reheadings should count for some experience. But my point was something else. Even if you feel exactly how little tension you have to apply on the first half, you pull harder on the second, don't you? If even tension is such a crucial matter for the quality of the sound of a skin, that is a problem. In my eperience things even out quite a bit in the end, especially after several rounds of pull and diamonds weaved in. But I guess even pull is an ideal hardly reached with this method. From physics, it makes sense to have as even a pull as it gets.

A friend of mine was thinking about building a stand where you don't pull down, but push down from above, with several pressure points on the ring. I can see how this might be a good idea in terms of even pull (or rather push, in this case). I can also imagine a system where you first pull several ropes with a machine from the bottom of the stand with completely even force, but putting in the rope of the djembe would be more complicated, then. I guess in both systems the even pull is finally tainted with when you put in the rope, because you still have to pull that. But it might be less of a problem in this fashion then before.

Anyway, the problem of even pull could be a problem only for those of us with a sound ideal of "pure" harmonics. Like the LCE djembe with the 18 or so loops, disharmonics can have a very nice effect. In the end, I can't help myself and usually would choose the harmonics. In Africa, on the other hand, they usually strive for a more tainted sound and apply extra gimmicks on the instruments like sesse.

drtom wrote: 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.

Dang! You already said that and I still wasn't content ;)
Last edited by djembefeeling on Fri Jun 23, 2017 9:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How To Fix Bearing Edge

Postby djembefeeling » Fri Jun 23, 2017 10:35 am

I did have the rare opportunity to reach this guy whereever he is traveling the world right now and tried to discuss the extravagant amount of loops with him via whatsapp. He says usually he is doing 34 loops, but he likes the touch of the hand on those with more. His English is limited, mine is also, so it's kind of hard to describe the reasons with precision.

He says that for the African drumbuilder he learned it from in Mali rope is hard to get by and expensive, that he wouldn't do it for no reason. He says he likes the precision of sound on those djembes, but you have to have the sensibility to hear that and get it out of the instrument. Since I heard him playing I know he is a very good musician with lots of sensibility. I guess this is as much from his reasoning as I can get.
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Re: How To Fix Bearing Edge

Postby Paul » Fri Jun 23, 2017 8:00 pm

Ah, just give it a try. I've heard awesome drums with 50 knots (probably the player had something to do with it). I've had to skin many ghana drums with 40+ knots, which is annoying as they are rubbish drums. I've had beautiful lenke shells that sound rubbish no matter what and plenty of burkina balafon wood drums that only sound good with calf. It doesnt always make sense, you make an ngoni with a big calabash and it sounds like a tin and then another with a small calabash and its like a mega bass.

If science could explain everything, surely remo and toca drums wouldn't sound soul less. :D
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Re: How To Fix Bearing Edge

Postby djembefeeling » Fri Jun 23, 2017 8:39 pm

:) :) :)

Never had a big calabash that sounded like a tin can, luckily :D And the lenke shells sounded like rubbish with another skin, as well?
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Re: How To Fix Bearing Edge

Postby drtom » Fri Jun 23, 2017 9:08 pm

boromir76 wrote:Iron frame with added wood would have to weigt a ton.


Yea, probably weighs at least a little and possibly a lot more than a rope system.

boromir76 wrote:I like this overtoned, edgy, ruff, resonant almost a litlle metallic sound with long sustain . . .


Yes! I love that also. That's almost exactly what I shoot for . . . when tuning a tabla. :giggle:

You're right of course - it's a matter of taste.
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Re: How To Fix Bearing Edge

Postby drtom » Fri Jun 23, 2017 10:05 pm

djembefeeling wrote:
drtom wrote:By the way, am I the only one who tunes a djembe by pulling verticals?


Of course not. I think Michi is doing that, too.


That does seem a little flippant. Sorry.

djembefeeling wrote:When the rope somewhere in the system looks fragile and the client doesn't want to pay for a relacement, I also rather put less force on the verticals but work with diamonds.


Yes.

djembefeeling wrote:You seem to pull the wet skin hard! . . . Do you stitch the skin together before you pull, so the ring doesn't move that much?


My wet pulls are very tight, and it begins with stitching the skin tightly before the pull. I know this goes against common wisdom, so I imagine jaws drumming on tabletops if people saw just how tightly I mount the skin on the flesh ring.

djembefeeling wrote: . . . roughly 300 reheadings should count for some experience.


I would think so.

djembefeeling wrote:But my point was something else. Even if you feel exactly how little tension you have to apply on the first half, you pull harder on the second, don't you? If even tension is such a crucial matter for the quality of the sound of a skin, that is a problem.


I may be misunderstanding you here DF, but I think there's a flaw in your logic. We agree that the second half of a round of pulls takes more force than the first half, but we seem to disagree on the reason.

Every pull (including the first one of the first half) applies tension that runs from the point of the pull (A) to the point directly opposite to it (B). (This is crucial to understand when tuning tablas) When point B is finally pulled, more force is required because there is now more resistance. Yes?
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Re: How To Fix Bearing Edge

Postby djembefeeling » Sat Jun 24, 2017 12:06 am

drtom wrote:My wet pulls are very tight, and it begins with stitching the skin tightly before the pull. I know this goes against common wisdom, so I imagine jaws drumming on tabletops if people saw just how tightly I mount the skin on the flesh ring.

No jaws drumming here. That's how I started out because my teacher in repairing djembe, David Mühlemann, showed me doing exactly that. But it took me considerable extra time and all the grease coming out of the skin was a bit annoying. Sometimes even the spine got a little out of place from the stitch pull which I couldn't notice for because of the stitch I couldn't see the spine. So I just tried to pass that and - voila! - the djembe didn't sound any worse in the end. Only the overlap skin looked more neat the old way when I did let the skin dry a little with the stitch still in place.

drtom wrote:Every pull (including the first one of the first half) applies tension that runs from the point of the pull (A) to the point directly opposite to it (B). (...) When point B is finally pulled, more force is required because there is now more resistance. Yes?

Yes. The direct tension runs from the upper ring to the lower, but indirectly, over an angle of 9o°, the tension runs through the skin as well. Much less so when you dry pull. And? You think in the end the skin is not pulled more from the second half than from the first when you consistently pull the rope harder there?
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Re: How To Fix Bearing Edge

Postby michi » Sat Jun 24, 2017 12:38 pm

drtom wrote: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.

I generally pass the drum to the customer with the first few verticals already flipped. Depending on the size of the rope and pitch the customer wants, it can sometimes be difficult to get full tension by just pulling the verticals. (It's easy to go overboard and accidentally tear the sheath of the rope.)

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.


Well, if I initially flip, say, the 1st, 4th, 8th, 12th, etc. vertical, when I get to the end of the row, I now want to flip the 1st, 3rd, 6th, 9th, etc. vertical, so I have to undo the previous flips except for the first one. All the extra handling of the rope and opening up the previous flips puts more wear on the sheath.

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Re: How To Fix Bearing Edge

Postby drtom » Sat Jun 24, 2017 7:00 pm

djembefeeling wrote:Yes. The direct tension runs from the upper ring to the lower, but indirectly, over an angle of 9o°, the tension runs through the skin as well.


Points A and B are on the bearing edge opposite each other. The tension runs across the playing surface.

djembefeeling wrote:And? You think in the end the skin is not pulled more from the second half than from the first when you consistently pull the rope harder there?


You seem to think that tension applied at a given point is localized there, but it isn't. Imagine that rather than skin there's a rope running from point A to point B.
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Re: How To Fix Bearing Edge

Postby djembefeeling » Sat Jun 24, 2017 7:57 pm

Not sure if your simple model does capture the physics involved completely. If I put in a diamond on one side (A), I think the skin near point A is more stretched than near the opposite side. That is at least my experience as a djembe-player. When I did some diamonds, the djembe gives the highest pitch when I play it directly at that spot.

I am not sure what your point exactly is, since your argumentation is so scarce yet. My guess is you think that it is not important from which side you apply the pull, for when the tension runs from A to B and from B to A and is completely evenly distributed through that line, then it is all the same if you apply, say, 50 Newton on the one side and 100 Newton on the other, because the entire line is then pulled by 150 Newton.

As I said I am not sure about the physics involved. Might be your model would be right if the skin would be an entirely homogenous material. Since it has a strong spine that runs from one point to the other, there could be interruptions in that system. The skin is not a line but a more or less round area where the tension acts in many directions. Also, we don't pull only point A but a ring with several contact points.

From my experience, when the rope is pulled unevenly - which you can hear when you pluck it - the skin reflects that in sound locally.
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Re: How To Fix Bearing Edge

Postby drtom » Sat Jun 24, 2017 8:22 pm

michi wrote:I generally pass the drum to the customer with the first few verticals already flipped.


I've always debated whether to do this. Not for the added tension, but to provide an easy way to decrease the tension. It can also serve as a model for those that don't know how to pull diamonds.

michi wrote:Well, if I initially flip, say, the 1st, 4th, 8th, 12th, etc. vertical, when I get to the end of the row, I now want to flip the 1st, 3rd, 6th, 9th, etc. vertical, so I have to undo the previous flips except for the first one.


I see said the blind man! That IS extra work and wear on the rope. I thought you were pulling multiple rows of alternate verticals.

Let me toss something out there.

I advise clients to play a freshly skinned djembe enough to allow the skin to fully settle before pulling diamonds. I sense that, despite my efforts to distribute the tension evenly, there are, at best, slight discrepancies. The skin, the rope and the rings all have some give. With time and use the system redistributes the discrepancies and finds its balance.

If diamonds are pulled before the system has settled in, at least some of the discrepancies are "locked" into place.
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Re: How To Fix Bearing Edge

Postby djembefeeling » Sat Jun 24, 2017 9:17 pm

drtom wrote:With time and use the system redistributes the discrepancies and finds its balance.

It often does, doesn't it?! Playing the djembe a lot usually improves the sound.

drtom wrote:If diamonds are pulled before the system has settled in, at least some of the discrepancies are "locked" into place.

That sounds like a very good argument. Never thought about that. At least one diamond needs to be done to stop the rope from being pulled back from the last vertical in my system...

But why is it that the discrepancies couldn't "unlock" later, for example when you weaved in a full round of diamonds? Is it experience you condensed? Did you do diamonds before? Because I never noticed that especially djembes with more or less diamonds do not even out. I just noticed that some do sound more harmonic than others from the beginning, most improve with time, some improve by pulling harder, i.e. those with some ringy disharmonics, and some do not improve at all no matter what.
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Re: How To Fix Bearing Edge

Postby michi » Sun Jun 25, 2017 1:49 am

In theory, with a drum without flips (except the one or two to lock the rope), while playing the drum, the vibration can allow the verticals to minutely slip over the bottom and top loops. That should eventually even out the tension all around. Once the verticals are flipped, they are definitely locked in place and there won't be any more movement across adjacent verticals.

I said "in theory", because I'm not totally sure that the vibration when playing is enough to actually overcome the friction lock of the verticals against the loops. Having said that, my experience is that it's good to tune a drum up slowly over a number of days while playing it a lot, rather than trying to bring it up to tension in one go. Tuning slowly seems to result in something that sounds better. (But then, it's hard to be objective; it may just be perception bias on my part…)

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