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Reducing Djembe height - Djembefola - Djembe Forum

For chatting and discussions.
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  • 14 posts
User avatar
By Djembe-nerd
#7186
Hi to all,

I have 2 djembes, and here is a brief discription.

1) 12.7" dia (playing surface), 25" height, 9.75' Base, lenke, Mali
2) 31.2" dia (playing suface), 25.5" height, 10" base, lenke, Guniea.

Usually, we play on chairs, with height of 17.5 - 18" and the I being avg height (5'7") the hands are at an angle where the elbows have to be lifted a little to play with the right hand and finger position. But during sessions, the elbows don't stay where they started and the presure then starts to come on the knuckles joining the palm and base of fingers, which is not felt at that time but later. If I tilt the drum too much, the bass note is taking a lot of effort.

So I am thinking of cutting an inch or 2 from both djembes. My question is will this affect the sound quality or any other thing. Also the guniea djembe has overtones, which have a metallic sound effect, is there a way to reduce these.

Thnx for your replies
User avatar
By bops
#7187
I wouldn't recommend hacking your jembe apart. Taking two inches off the bottom will affect the sound.

Try finding a different sized chair, stack some pillows on the chair, or even purchase an adjustable drum throne.
User avatar
By e2c
#7189
Thirded. You really don't want to saw the drum down. If anything, i'd go with altering *your* height/sitting arrangements. (It might not take much of an adjustment, either.)

Last year, I went out and bought an armless folding dining room chair (made out of wood, with a flat, padded seat) for this purpose. It's pretty light (weighs much less than any of my drums) and does the trick when needed.

Also... every drum is different. I have 2 "regular" djembes (one from Guinea, one from Mali) and a bass (from Guinea). I've found that small adjustments in seating height and my position are necessary for me to play the "regular" Guinea drum properly. (Might eventually sell it if I can find another Guinea drum that's a little better-proportioned for my height, etc.)
User avatar
By the kid
#7194
Adam wrote:So I am thinking of cutting an inch or 2 from both djembes. My question is will this affect the sound quality
Yes

If they are authentic malian and guinean djembes then they would have been built proportionally correct and you must adjust your playing style rather than the drum size.

The metallic over tones your experiencing can be a number of factors. check out a lot of the mails in the instrument building section. It's probably that the size of the rings isn't quite right for the shell. Prob too large for the shell by a small degree but this could cause a ring or strange overtone. It could also be too thin a skin for the drum. The skin could have been put on badly in the first place. there are plenty of parameters which can influence the sound of the drum.
User avatar
By Djembe-nerd
#7204
Thanks guys. I will get a seat, with a cushion as all chairs/stools I saw are 17-18" height. That should resolve the height issue. These are authentic Mali and Guniea djembes and I will not disturb their proportion.

Regarding the overtones, I don't know if the rings are not correct, but the skin is thin.

Thanks again for your guidance.
User avatar
By e2c
#7217
Rachel, I hear you. I'd probably sell my main Guinea djembe now *if* it wasn't a 3-5 hour one-way drive to the closest drum builders who sell good shells (etc.). So that leaves me with mail order, and that's dicey, even when the salespeople are terrific at their jobs. (Though likely a lot easier if you've met in person and they have some idea of your preferences.)

My "regular" Guinea drum requires less than a 1" adjustment in my seated height, which is pretty minimal. (but still can be a pain when playing in a place where I don't have much choice about seating.) I think it might be better off with someone else, though, in the longer term... so I'm keeping my eyes open and might go on a scouting trip come spring. (I wish my teacher - who's also a really good drum builder - would move back here; that'd be helpful for the local drum/dance scene, and I'd have a good choice of new shells, too... ah well.)
User avatar
By rachelnguyen
#7225
e2c,

The distance is quite an issue, I agree... especially if you are trying to buy a drum!

When I first got my goatskin Mali djembe, I thought it was too short. (I think it is about 23-24 inches tall.) but after playing it for awhile, I realized I am much more comfortable with a shorter drum. (Should it surprise me that my teacher chose it for me and it turned out to be the perfect drum for me?)

My cowskin is a bit taller, but I am developing my arm muscles to accommodate different sized djembes. But if it had been 26 inches or something, I would have chosen a different drum.
User avatar
By rachelnguyen
#7226
Another thing, Adam...

How long have you been playing? When I watch my teacher play, he is very physically relaxed. As I have gained experience, I am learning to be more relaxed, too, and that allows me to connect with the drum better. What I mean is, if I am playing a drum that is taller or rounder or shorter than my normal drum, it is less difficult for me to adjust now. I just kind of wiggle the drum around until I find the sweet spot. Early on, I had to hold onto the drum too tightly to keep it from falling or shifting. I even used to use a rubber mat to keep the foot from slipping around. Now the drum is more an extension of my body and I can really relax. It helps my playing a lot.

All of this is to say that your posture and positioning might be a bit stiff if you are newer to drumming. This would certainly add to the pain factor. As you get more experience, it might get better.

Love,
Rachel
User avatar
By Djembe-nerd
#7227
I have been playing regularly for 4 months now. You are right, as i have learnt over time I have gotten more comfortable with the drum, relaxed yes, sweet spot , not yet, i am still looking for it :cry:

I would sell my drum, but I should know first what i need. So, i think, i will experiment more with the posture and seat height and then decide.

Thnaks for your inputs.
By Garvin
#7228
I think you should find a way to play your drum, whichever drum, comfortably whether you are sitting or standing. Some drums are too big, some are too small. It would be best to find a drum that fits your body.

Take a look at some of the videos you see on youtube. A lot of folks just end up sitting on a log, or a piece of junky old patio furniture. I've sat in some chairs that have literally busted my ass. Some way too low, and some so high I had to put a shoe under my drum to get it up to a manageable height. If you are making correct contact with the drum in the first place, you should be able to do it no matter what you are sitting on. Although, if I had the choice I would carry a roc n soc throne with me everywhere I go.

Of course you want to have a good foundation for everything, so if the drum you are starting with is either too big or too small for you, then you might never find a comfortable playing position.
User avatar
By e2c
#7231
rachelnguyen wrote:Another thing, Adam...

How long have you been playing? When I watch my teacher play, he is very physically relaxed. As I have gained experience, I am learning to be more relaxed, too, and that allows me to connect with the drum better. What I mean is, if I am playing a drum that is taller or rounder or shorter than my normal drum, it is less difficult for me to adjust now. I just kind of wiggle the drum around until I find the sweet spot. Early on, I had to hold onto the drum too tightly to keep it from falling or shifting. I even used to use a rubber mat to keep the foot from slipping around. Now the drum is more an extension of my body and I can really relax. It helps my playing a lot.

All of this is to say that your posture and positioning might be a bit stiff if you are newer to drumming. This would certainly add to the pain factor. As you get more experience, it might get better.
Being able to play relaxed has a lot to do with it, but I also think that a well-proportioned, balanced shell should sit nicely, to the point that you don't really need to put much pressure on it with your legs. (At all, in fact.) I see *no* problem with using a rubber mat (at any level) - a lot of drums tend to slip after a while, unless they have rubber mounted on the foot in some way. That's my preference (rubber mounted on foot), as long as it's done right.

My "regular" Guinea drum can almost stand by itself with no support from me at all, if tipped at a certain angle. (which is one of the main reasons I still have it - it's very easy to hold in place, takes almost zero effort.) It's a Wula, btw... they make beautifully balanced shells.
My cowskin is a bit taller, but I am developing my arm muscles to accommodate different sized djembes. But if it had been 26 inches or something, I would have chosen a different drum.
I hear you! The main reason I don't have congas: I've never seen or tried any that are properly proportioned for someone my height (not quite 5' 4").
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