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#38859
Hi all,

I'd like to get some thoughts on what djembe I should get for my second purchase. My first was a nice traditional djembe, but I can't stand the tuning process, and the inconsistencies. I have a home studio, and I need to be able to adjust things fast - both up and down. I'm picky about setups on my other gear.

I don't want to debate traditional vs modern, tempting to you as that may be!

What I'm keen to hear is what is a really good solid purchase, that will have a decent sound. I'm not into traditional playing per se - I'm more of a modern improvisor, innovator, if I can even say that.

I see that the Remo Black Earth 12" seems to be a good price at the moment- even compared to the brown 'earth' finish which I don't quite understand. Should I be considering the 14 instead? What about LP or pearl?
#38860
Your best option would probably be to find a music store or two where you can try them out. Pick whichever you think sounds best.

In terms of sound, these drums won't sound like a djembe. Instead, you'll get a drum sound that isn't what a djembe sounds like.

Michi.
#38861
What michi said but in my own words. ;)

Now, if you're interested in the sound of a djembe and not just a drum labeled 'djembe', I have a pricey suggestion that'll spare you all that bothersome tuning.

Purchase a good authentic African hardwood djembe shell, a good African goat skin, side plates, lugs and a crown hoop and assemble yourself a 21st century Robodjembe that's easy to tune.
#38867
ok, thanks guys.

It seems it may take a while for my ear to tune into that classic djembe vs modern 'djembe-ish' sound. Although I must say, a Ukulele vs Martin comparison does seem a little stretched!

At the moment I am content to focus on a remo 12" or 14" - these seem the best of the bunch. If needed, I can use tricks to dampen the ringing.

I'll let you know how it goes.
#38868
drtom wrote:
Tue Apr 03, 2018 6:44 am
Purchase a good authentic African hardwood djembe shell, a good African goat skin, side plates, lugs and a crown hoop and assemble yourself a 21st century Robodjembe that's easy to tune.
Yep. This would be probably by far the best compromise in terms of quick tuning and realy good sound. The only problem is, it would be pricey and you would have to built it by yourself...
#38871
boromir76 wrote:
Sun Apr 08, 2018 8:51 am
Yep. This would be probably by far the best compromise in terms of quick tuning and realy good sound. The only problem is, it would be pricey and you would have to built it by yourself...
There are people who can do the work for him, but this would add to an already pricey project, and (from previous posts) my impression is that DG is pretty handy.
#38889
Hi Folks,

Well, I found a person in my town selling a remo mondo 12". I am very happy with it - here's my review.

Build: very good indeed. good quality tuning screws and apparatus. The head is a fiberskyn 3. I understand they also have the skyndeep, but I don't understand the difference. Essentially, I think this is a plastic head with a product known as tyvek on top to provide that fibrous element that is core to natural skins.

Practicality: off the scale. it is quite light, but more importantly, I can tune it to an exact concert pitch in minutes. down 3 semi-tones, up 5 semi-tones. It literally takes 2-3 minutes. For me, this is a godsend because I sample drums and use them in different settings. The fact the head is rapidly replaceable is also reassuring.

Sound: this is the controversial part. I found this video on youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ODeFhKXoU14
In this overview, you can see how to reduce the 'ring' that people complain about by adding some padding inside the body. This essentially replaces the damping effect that wood applies to sound waves inside the body of the djembe. I made these changes, along with a small dampening foam onto the head itself (2 inches piece close to the edge). What I find is that the skin is VERY fussy where you place the foam on the skin from the inside. It either makes no difference at all, or a substantial difference. This is no doubt due to the wave nodes and natural vibrations of the skin. After some trial and error, I have a very convincing djembe sound that compares to my other drum with a goat skin head. There is no doubt the goat skin head has a thicker, punchier sound. For me, it does not outweigh the other benefits of the remo djembe.

I should add that I am a vegetarian - so this is an added bonus for me. I do compromise on my vegetarianism on rare occasions - but it is a re-assuring element that may or may not apply to you.
#38891
DrumGoon wrote:
Wed Apr 18, 2018 6:42 pm
After some trial and error, I have a very convincing djembe sound that compares to my other drum with a goat skin head.
Good to hear you found what you were looking for! Care to post a video review or a sound sample?
DrumGoon wrote:
Wed Apr 18, 2018 6:42 pm
I should add that I am a vegetarian - so this is an added bonus for me. I do compromise on my vegetarianism on rare occasions - but it is a re-assuring element that may or may not apply to you.
The goat skin is a vegetarian's skin, you know?;)

Jokes aside, production of plastic and synthetic shell also uses natural resources and creates pollution. Plastic waste is especially dangerous to marine life. So, if we look at the whole lifecycle of a product, goatskin might even be a more sustainable option.
#38895
I know what you're saying korma - you're talking about the full frame of the value chain. In that respect, it's hard to tell.

I do know the remo shells are 100% recycled wood chips/pulp though.

I will not be posting sound samples in the near future. If you're really keen, follow that link to youtube video above. In it - at the end - the guy has a quick play on the modded remo drum.
#38904
I'm a bit late, but here's a couple tips: (btw I understand wanting a non-skin head, I'm vegetarian too, and working on prototype plant-based heads for djembes and congas, more on that later)

Key tuned wood-shell djembes:
1.) If you ever decide to upgrade, I saw Motherland Music carries real djembes (wood shell) with lug-tuners instead of rope.

2.) Improving synthetic heads
a)-adhesive weather stripping foam strips aligned in spiral/vortex pattern
b)-gluing paper to underside of skin

a):
You're spot on with adding foam inside the bowl, but is it spiral-oriented?

Foam in bowl alignment:
First, make sure the foam is aligned properly: I was taught to use 3-4 strips of weather proofing foam and align them vertically on a diagonal, so as to mimic the "spiral" carving pattern, which may help the air and soundwaves "vortex" out of the bowl. Either that or the diagonal angle ensures contact with all the soundwaves, but it's very effective.

b):
Glue paper, not foam, to head:
I wouldn't use any foam on the head however, instead I'd glue paper* on the under side (while the head is off the djembe, so the paper gets stretched onto the shell as part of the head/membrane). Here's why:

I suppose it might be obvious that Remo already does a similar thing to the top of their synthetic heads (glues fibrous plastic "paper" veneer onto the core solid plastic membrane), which is why fiberskyns sound better than a piece of unmodified plastic sheeting, but here's explanation for how it works...

First: Consider one of the issues with the tone being caused by a lack of "air" in the core of the plastic membrane(a good djembe or conga skin, by contrast, is fibrous with some air in between the fibers). So this lack of air results in a "uniform" and "simple" tone, with few "dry" overtones, which contributes to the lasting ringey sustain. (in real skin the variety of competing overtones drain energy off the fundamental quicker due to cross-interference, a single tone can sustain longer because it's resonating without interference, a similar concept is applied to Mantio conga skins to increase sustain, but only to a certain degree, too much uniformity of tone sounds boring)

By gluing paper on the underside of the head, you force the vibration to travel through paper fibers and air, which creates various dry overtones, thus reducing tonal uniformity and ringey sustain.
This however is assuming the glue was diluted, so when the water dries it left airspace in the paper. If the glue is too thick, it will fill the air spaces.
Depending on the thickness and amount of paper, the sound can be changed a little or a lot. I'd use reversible glue (softens when wet) so you can undo it if you don't like the result.
Another benefit of glueing it on when the head is removed, so the paper gets stretched when you put it back on the shell, is that it will act as part of the membrane, rather than merely as a dampener. This would help with the tone, because it's vibrating in an integrated way, across the whole drumhead.

Second: This also adds mass to the head, so it won't sound so "bright", as fiberskyns do otherwise. Real goatskin is denser, because protein is heavier than plastic, and they tend to be thicker than fiberskyns as well, so the tone is lower and warmer.

*: What kind of paper? Depends on what you have access to. Theoretically brown paper bag would be better than smooth white paper, because it is coarser, meaning the fibers will be larger, and thus have more air spaces between them. But it might be too thick. You could sand some of it off, or use layers of tissue paper instead.

How dilute can the glue be? Very. If you're using something like Elmers (PVA based glue), it's very thick, so I'd mix it with a lot of water. Perhaps 1:5? Not sure, I'd experiment with a small scrap to make sure it's still enough glue to hold.

How to prepare the head? The underside of remo fiberskyns is absolutely smooth (unlike the top), so I'd sand the bottom of it, so the paper sticks to it. A light sanding with fine to medium-fine paper is ideal, to avoid taking material off the head. I don't think this would hurt the sound, in fact sanding alone should improve the sound I suspect, just by roughing the membrane-to-air interface. Remember natural skin is very rough on the bottom, often pieces of fiber hanging off etc.

What if the paper makes it sound dull? If you only glued one side of the paper, and the paper wasn't saturated with glue, then you may need to add some dilute sealant, or dilute oil, to the underside of the paper at the end to reduce some of the dryness (a little dryness is good, too much is not - it's a fine tuning thing).
Dilute shea butter is the perfect oil. (diluted in household cleaner made of orange oil so the dilutant evaporates away)
As for sealant, you can dilute some glue, or if you're not vegan, nonfat milk makes a good sealant, as does eggwhite. Vegan natural glue options include sticky rice starch, acacia gum/gum arabic, and wheat glue.
Just remember not to add to much sealant or oil, the idea would be to add a tiny bit and see if it's enough, and only add more if needed. Adding too much is easy to do.
#38906
Consider one of the issues with the tone being caused by a lack of "air" in the core of the plastic membrane(a good djembe or conga skin, by contrast, is fibrous with some air in between the fibers)
Haven't read it all but this seems a bit of a stretch of the imagination.

I'd say the hard wood has the least air in it compared to craper or softer wood, and thats why it is good. You want hardness not air or water inside djembe wood. Just my uneducated opinion.
#38907
Ok so you were talking about goat skin versus synthetic skin. I mistook and should have read properly before posting. I though you were comparing wood to fiberglass and discussing why they sound different.

Still is it your surmiseation that Goat skin has air in it or what. and that is somehow relative to the sound. What percentage of skin is air? I can't see why that would make a difference. Does dried skin have air in it even?

I think people should try to communicate their theories/opinions by saying 'this is my theory/opinion' or 'i think this is so because..', rather than saying 'this sounds like this because ....', having no proof, along side the alleged fact. I'm feel not so sure about me commenting on others language use as I'm crude enough but i want to read your posts and not get that feeling. Am i a semantic fascist or what? I want to believe really.

When theories are discussed they can develop and get better or whatever but when fact is presented with out any proof then you have to get some slack for that, or be questioned or asked for proof, like in the 'guess the wood thread'. Nobody guessed right but it was prior stated it could be done. So then i'd say the prior statement was wrong and or misstated.

But on a positive note, people like you will discover the next generation materials for sustainable drums, I am sure of it. We need to think outside the box to solve problems but reporting the theory or opinion needs to be delivered accurately and if there is some doubt or unsurety then that needs to be communicated or simply negated by stating it's your opinion which thinks something is the way it is. It just takes a 'imo' and i wouldn't be writing this.

I want to be educated on sound and hope you make more effort. lol.