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Hose clamp and wood glue for a new head? - Djembefola - Djembe Forum

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Howdy, y'all! I'm a hobby hand percussionist, and all of my drums up until recently have synthetic heads which are easily tuned and replaced without much fuss. I recently, however was gifted a nice rope tuned wooden djembe with a goatskin head which happens to be busted. I've done a little research and searched around the area I live and can't find anyone to help me replace the head without shipping it quite a ways and paying an arm and a leg to do so. I know that with certain fixed head drums you can use the hose clamp/tape/glue method. Would it be blasphemous to try this on my djembe? I know there are tutorials on replacing djembe heads the traditional way, but I'm quite intimidated by this and don't want to screw it up. If this has been covered before, kindly redirect me to the thread. If not, I would greatly appreciate any thoughts and/or advice.
User avatar
By Erny
If the goatskin only has a very small hole, this can be covered with a special textile-clue which, after use, stays elastic. But this kind of clue doesn´t survive high tensions as usual in a skin.
I fear If the skin is torn, replacing it will be the only way to get a good drum again.
Maybe someone else has another idea?
Greetings, Erny
User avatar
By drtom
Hey JP,

The method you suggest will work fine if you're only interested in getting some sort of tone from your djembe. If you want the range and clarity that djembes are capable of, however, it won't even come close. I would suggest this method for bodhrans and other types of drums that require a relaxed drum head.

People with experience can use this method on riqs, wooden doumbeks and other drums that require more tension, but no one can make it work well on a djembe.

OK, maybe on a toy djembe.
Can you post a photo of the drum and busted head? Would help to know what kind of drum it is, and see the condition of the ropes etc, to give better advice. An expensive drum is worth more trouble, for instance, and old rope might break during rehead.
And where are you located?

Busted head... happened to me with my first Djembe: Someone knocked it over onto a log and tore the head right open. Then, what to do?!

The easiest thing you can do, which is what I did, is purchase a synthetic djembe head (I used some variant of fiberskyn), loosen the ropes, swap it out for the busted skin, and tighten the ropes back up.

It's actually not complicated, that's the nice thing about rope, it's pretty obvious what you're doing.
The only thing to remember, is don't tighten too much on one side. Best to tighten gradually, so go around several times, until it's tight all the way around. It's simple, I did it and I was not into details.

Of course real skin sounds many levels better... but if you don't wanna deal (I didn't) then synthetic is ok. It's immune to weather, so that's a plus. And if you get into Djembe, you can always replace it with a real skin. You can practice bass/tone/slap, which is enough to have fun. It's not as rich or complex though, so eventually you will want real skin.

If/when you do want to mount a real skin, people can walk you through it on the forum, if you start a thread like "heading my first djembe, help appreciated" or something.
It's a little bit harder to do than a synthetic head, but honestly it's mostly psychological. You basically just soak the skin, place the flesh ring over it, fold the skin edges up over the ring and then stitch them together in the center with a needle/thread. Then you can mostly treat it the same as the synthetic one. According to Dr Tom you can pull the ropes fairly tight even when the skin is wet. There's a couple other things to know, but I don't think it's a matter of "messing it up", it's just a matter of doing a few more steps, not much. And the magic of when the skin dries and you hear those first few slaps and tones, whoo yea!

I wouldn't try any DIY methods, like a hose clamp, the thing about a Djembe is the tension, you have to be able to get the skin TIGHT, otherwise it's not going to sound good. I did see someone talk about making a djembe into a cajon, by gluing a piece of thin wood on top, but that's not going to play like a djembe, and honestly it's hard on the hands.

Good luck, keep us posted!
User avatar
By the kid
I'd look at it as a new chapter in life and go full tribal on it. Go catch yourself a deer and smeer your self with the blood to start.


My advice would be to research and find out how to skin up or better to Get Michis ibook and learn how do each process properly. Lets say there are 5 stages each between 1-3 hours, with total 10 hours work. You know you can fuc=k this up as i did many times.

You also need to have a few essential tools too. A large dowel or homemade pullin bar is essential too. I don't think it is easy at all to do the job well but it is possible even for novices. The reward is worth it anyways as real skin will always be far superior to synth.

https://books.apple.com/us/book/djembe- ... d514845750

I haven't read the book, still saving for it, but it is recommended by credible and experienced contributors to this site. ~Must be good.
Haha, I'm too busy planning my paper skin at the moment. I'll post a thread about that when I've got a bit more progress. So far so good. The idea is that it won't loosen in humid weather, because cellulose contracts length-wise when moist, unlike collagen which stretches.
And no, it's not regular short-fiber wood paper, it's a special kind of extremely durable long-fiber paper, and I treat it with various plant chemicals to make it stronger and more supple. It's performing well in my tests, but I want to get it stretched onto a frame drum before I post about it, so there's something to look at.
Next up, natural linen rope, (the braided kind) for the same reason (tightens in humid weather). I would treat it also for strength and flexibility.
Then composite hemp-fiber rings. (I think they'll have less of that "ringy" metallic sound that djembes make, plus they can be made without metal or heat and they weigh 1/6th as much for the same strength).
Last of all is making a shell, which I would probably do from hemp fiber, as it can be arranged in a linear pattern, which mimics wood, so it will resonate and not dampen the sound. It's amazingly stiff and strong when the right binder is used. BMW is using it in their car doors now.
But paper mache isn't a bad idea, if that's what's available :) The key is tension during the wraps, to compress it while it dries, and avoid the "spongey" problem caused by air pockets and separation of the layers.
So in the end, an entirely plant-based drum, which doesn't require felling trees, is possible. But there's a bunch of steps to get there. I like the idea of being able to make things out of readily-available materials, which can be returned to the earth when the time comes.
Thanks for the encouragement, it helps a lot. I'm planning to test the paper on a key-tuned frame drum which has a synthetic head on it now. If it goes well, I might try re-heading one or both of the shells I have.

If it works, I think paper will be easier to work with than a wet, stretchy skin. Cellulose does have some stretch, but not as much as collagen, and heading with a dry material is quicker, since there's no pulling slack out of the membrane itself. It's been used historically in taiko drums, so it can be strong enough. I believe they use Kozo paper, made from pounded mullberry bark fibers.

As for sound, of course it won't be the same as skin, but I've worked on treating it to sound better, and am surprised at how well it's worked so far, and can't wait to hear it tuned up properly!
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