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what do you know of these companies? - Djembefola - Djembe Forum

Meeting place for buying and selling instruments
By shorty


I think I have narrowed it down to these guys. The first link is for mali style bara djembes and the second one sells wula drums from guinea. (http://www.wuladrum.com/)

Does anyone know about the quality of these two sellers? I know that the rootsy records people really love djmbe and culture so I suppose they are a safe bet?

and the same goes for taylor at holy goat and the wula drum guys?
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By Dugafola
Taylor is a good dude and a good friend of mine as well. have no fear working with him. however, he gets most of his drums from Michael at Wula Drums. I got an email from him today saying that they just got a fresh new shipment of drums this week so right now may be a good time to get a really nice instrument.

i have seen and played a Jina from rootsy and let me tell you it's big. what they specify as 'minor cracks have been repaired' may not be minor to someone else so keep that in mind.

i will say that i have not seen drums like the Rootsy ones that are consistently that big ever.
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By bops
I agree with Duga. Taylor is a good guy. But if you're looking at getting a Wula drum, you'll get a better price and/or selection by ordering directly from Wula drums.

I can tell you that Wula drums are top quality. I've been to the workshop in Kipe, Conakry, where they finish the drums, and those guys are meticulous. Tom K, who is a perfectionist with his drums, oversees the process. You can see from the pictures that they're beautifully decorated. But that's not the important part. The important part is that the drum has the proper form and proportions, and they do.
By shorty
The owner of rootsy records told me that the wula ones are a modern guinea style, and his drums are a more ancient mali style. He says they really focus on size and proportions with the jina djembes

He has been helpful overall with my questions. I guess Im leaning towards the jina ones. Is big a problem? are there other mali drums that would be a better bet?
By bubudi
i agree completely with the other posters. get yourself a wula drum. the jina drums look great online and if you were in a position to handpick one of those (see it in front of you, turn it this way and that), you'd be able to get a great one. however, several people in the past have been disappointed with stock received from rootsyrecords, which was way inferior to their expectations. cracks have been a major issue, some of them being quite major and not fixed nicely. the drums are not cheap so you don't want to end up with an ugly looking drum that may be inferior in build strength (due to the crack). if you get a wula drum the concensus has been that these are top notch drums. if you are not 100% satisfied it would be easy to organize a replacement since they are local. there will not be the need to send it back to bamako, which is expensive, as well as pay for the shipping back to you, all of which takes relatively a long time. plus the cost of phone calls to bamako. another issue is that rope available in mali is inferior to that available in the west. the african rope will fray more and stretch, causing your drum to lose its tune quickly. if you feel you must go for a jina djembe try to get a guarantee there will be no cracks in the shell and try to get it unskinned (be sure to still get the skin and rings), then get it skinned locally by someone who does good work with the finest materials. the jina djembes are designed to be tuned lower. they are definitely a more ancient shape and sound but the large shell is a new innovation and results in a louder drum. their huge size means that they are heavy to lug around. it may also be harder to play if your hands are below average size.
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By Dugafola
shorty wrote: are there other mali drums that would be a better bet?
check out the Mali drums at these places and compare them to the Jinas:



attached is a picture of my Gele wood Mali shell i got from drumskull. 13" diameter and super solid.
IMG_1877 small.jpg
IMG_1877 small.jpg (119.6KiB)Viewed 8892 times
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By e2c
I have a Wula. You really cannot go wrong with them!

Edited to add: I bought mine because I had had a chance to play it. There were other top-quality drums available to me (includes a few other Wulas), but I chose mine on the basis of how it sounds and the proportions, which feel very "right" to me. The carving on the shell is beautiful, but that's an extra, in my view.

I should add that I've had to do very little in the way of tuning, and have had this drum for one year. The level of craftsmanship is very high. (As others have said.)
By shorty
Thanks guys. I was looking at the jina drum made from the "special wood" that was found naturally dried out already? he says this is the best kind of wood u can get. It does have repaired cracks and I am asking him about that...
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By Dugafola
shorty wrote:Thanks guys. I was looking at the jina drum made from the "special wood" that was found naturally dried out already? he says this is the best kind of wood u can get. It does have repaired cracks and I am asking him about that...
my experience with my carver in conakry is that when they get a truckload of blanks (the uncarved pieces of wood for djembes or duns), they won't even touch them unless they are completely dried out. they'll let them sit under a tree in the shade covered for weeks/months before they carve them out. a dry piece of wood is just that. I personally don't put a lot of stock in the 'special wood' thing...but that's just my 2 pennies worth.

it is a good looking piece that's for sure...but i'd make sure it's exactly what you want and up to your standards before laying the money down.
By Onetreedrums
Hey thanks for the shout out, Dugufola and Bops.

I would love to chime in (apologies as this is more stream of consciousness than anything). I would like to first say that I have never met a djembe that I didn't like (with the exception of the lathe-carved djembes coming out of Bali and Indonesia and most touristy djembes from Ghana) ... I have been totally in awe of the djembe since I first saw it in the hands of a true master, Abdoul Doumbia. Since that time, I have been very focused on exploring all the djembe has to offer. This passion has led me to partner with Abdoul to bring some of the finest and best sounding djembes from Mali to the states. I prefer to build the djembes here in the states versus having them assembled in Mali as like to build up the shells with the highest quality components possible and put in the necessary work to refine the shell to my standards.

I like to tell people that buying a djembe is like getting a shoe, it has to fit - both your hand and the purpose or setting in which you are going to play. But like shoes, many people prefer own more than one pair. The smaller the drum, the higher pitch each sound will be and vice versa for the larger drums.

After putting together a couple hundred or so djembes, dununs, and bugarabus, I would have to say that the best djembes available can be purchased from Drumskull Drums, Wula Drums, Rootsy Records, and from me, One Tree Drums, as well as Irietones (the professional djembes built by Kaz). I admit that while learning the lion share of djembe building from Abdoul and djembefolas in Mali, the work and pursuit of perfection by these djembe retailers has inspired my work as well. I personally own djembes from Drumskulls, Wula Drums, and Rootsy Records, as well as drums that I assemble and offer on my website ... and I am doing my best to limit that number of "personal djembes."

Echoing Dugufola, the best shell is one that is perfectly cured ... just as the sound of violins improve with age, so due djembes (but you may have to change the skin, of course). I have this really rugged looking djembe from Abdoul that is about 50 years old and it simple sounds amazing ... and it's not really cranked. The type of wood is very important too. The djembe is intended to be an outdoor instrument intended to gather people from afar. The harder, denser woods typically used for Mali and Guinea djembes like Khadi/Hare/Gueni, Lenke (usually agreed to be the most traditional/authentic wood for the djembe), Djalla and Gele, Dugura and Beng are usually sought out by experienced players as well as Iroko wood (more medium in weight and density) which is typically used for Ivory Coast djembes. The style or shape of the djembe makes a big difference too. Generally Guinea djembes bass has less sustain, while Mali djembes tend to have a larger and more sustained bass note. More could be said about the tones and slaps, but I have probably already said enough.

Just my thoughts.

BTW, I am posting 10 or so super sweet, freshly assembled djembes next week.

All the best,
By shorty
Thank you very much Nate! I learned a little something reading through that. Its good to have people so knowledgeable and enthusiastic about this art form and culture.
By Onetreedrums
Thanks Shorty ... I really should have mentioned you and your work in my rant, but I don't own any of the awesome Ivory Coast drums that you offer. I have seen them around and they are some of the best Ivorian djembes I have come across. The closest we have come to meeting was indirectly ... I was in the Air France loading dock in Bamako and dozens of cow skins packaged up and ready to be shipped your way. I very much look forward to meeting you in person some day as I'm sure our paths will cross. I have only heard great things about your work - keep it up and all the best!
By shorty
well I think I will go with wula, drumbskull, or one tree. I would have gotten the jina but it has been sold. And I am still intrigued by the whole special wood thing, I know I will be tempted to invest in one of those the next time they are available.

So you guys have not heard anything about this special wood? You think it makes a trivial difference or is a scam?

How should I go about thinking about the differences between one tree, drumbskull and wula merchandise? I dont really know how to compare it. I guess I cant go wrong. I am looking mostly at guinea or ivory coast style of drums by the way. My teacher siad there was a really good or famous style of drum but I cant remember the name, it started with a hard k sound. maybe it is spelled with a k or a c?

any way, at drumskull I see they have lenke wood drums as well as Djalla wood. How does this compare?
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