I was one of the lucky winners of Michi Hennings’ new ebook, ‘Djembe Construction’ available for ipad. I suppose that only a complete djembe nerd would sit down to such a thing and read it cover to virtual cover, but I could not put it down. It is a step by step guide to building (or repairing) a djembe, complete with well-made videos, charts, photos and all kinds of great advice and information.
The book is an apple ibook, which means that it is only available on ipad at this point. That is a shame because it limits the audience considerably. However, the format on the ipad is stunning. I was reading it horizontally and loved the way the pages looked on the screen. To watch a video, I just had to tap the video box and then expand it to full screen to get the details. The videos themselves are mostly fantastic… if not a little long. But I think for a rank beginner, the amount of video footage would be a real blessing because you get a great sense of flow of each process. It felt like I was sitting in Michi’s workshop with him. (I would be the one drinking his beer!)
The book is packed with details and little tips for making the drum building process easier. I loved, for example, Michi’s alternative way of tying off the vertical rope. It is super tidy and looks great. I also appreciated his detailed diagram of how to tie off the crown ring loops. And for all you fans of the folded over Guinea-style skin flap, this book takes you through the process step by step. The videos showed each step in detail.
In addition to the step by step information, there are some valuable tools. For example, the rope calculator is a great help. Now you won’t end up with yards too much rope… or worse, not enough. I also liked the idea of making a little template to help space the loops on the crown ring.
One thing that definitely comes across in this book is the level of Michi’s craftsmanship. He takes the time and effort to do a beautiful job with his drums and you can learn a lot by watching him go through the process. I have building drums for a few years now, but was pleasantly surprised at how much new information there was for me. For example, I have never shaved a wet skin that wasn’t mounted on a drum. Watching Michi do it on the video made me want to try it myself!
There were a few downsides to the book. At first glance it seems expensive. At $25 a pop, you might be tempted to try and piece together the information from the forum or the net. I’d say that this book is WELL worth the money. It is a very well put together resource that is likely to give value for years to come. For about a quarter of the price of one reheading, you will get the skills you need to build your own drums. It is really worth it.
Another possible downside is the size of the file. It is 1.3 gigs or so, which is a LOT of real estate on your ipad. However, for that you get over 2 hours of step by step video, which is immeasurably helpful, especially for a first time drum builder. My biggest gripe (and it is pretty minor) is that I couldn’t figure out if there was a ‘back’ function for ibooks. What that means is if you follow a highlighted link in the text to a different part of the book, there doesn’t seem to be an easy way to navigate back to where you were. If someone knows how to do this, let me know! If there isn’t a way to do it, there needs to be.
Having said all that, I love this book. Michi is a great teacher and has put together a very impressive resource for anyone interested in building or repairing djembes. I think it is well worth the money and the drive space to have this resource at your fingertips. I will warn you, though. If you are a djembe geek like me, you are going to have a hard time putting it down.
2 Thumbs up. Now where can I get some cool dashiki’s like Michi’s?
Check out the book here: http://itunes.apple.com/us/book/djembe-construction-enhanced/id514845750?mt=11