Advice and questions on making and fixing instruments
User avatar
By djembefeeling
[Edit: I split this topic from the How To Fix Bearing Edge to get a more appropriate topic heading—Michi]

Looks good! How does it sound?

I do ask because I noticed you put like 23 (?) knots on the ring. That's about the number I used to put on a djembe this size. But after a friend said that this is no good, even called it"tourist drum" for decorative purposes only and demonstrated the sound of his 30 plus knot djembes I could really hear the difference. Didn't want to, though, because that is so much more work for every djembe.

BTW, what did you charge the proud owner of this djembe for that much work?
User avatar
By djembefeeling
I am sorry if I did ask the wrong questions. The cultural gap seems to be big again. I remember sitting in a car with a stranger on Long Island and the guy told me about his marriage and his sex life and stuff. But when I asked how much he earns with his job he was so pissed that I could ask such an intimate question :giggle:

I do believe that the customer is happy with the djembe, why shouldn't he? It looks really good and probably sounds much better than before. My questions were made out of pure and honest interest, not to belittle your work.
User avatar
By drtom
I did think you'd made some backhanded comments DF, but I know that words, even when wielded with care, can be ambiguous. I also know that cultural norms vary and can cause misunderstandings.

I don't think this will prevent you from continuing to contribute to our discussions. I hope not.
User avatar
By the kid
Looks like a nice job.

I counted 26 loops.

There is no definitive optimum amount is there, but more is better until you get to ghanian style with too many. lol. But it used to be that the ropes on those drums were weaker.

If the rings are strong and don't warp and the ropes are tough, less is ok? But any ways 26 to 32 would be a norm. Do people put more into a larger drum, yes. I'd say 26 - 28 for a 30-32 cm diameter drum.

Basically if aiming for high tension better to have more verts.
User avatar
By boromir76
It looks very nice. The knot spacing and number of ring loops looks just right.

With goat skin, good rope and solid right sized rings, there is small proportion of djembes that would actually need more than 32 loops in my opinion. I have quite large 36 diameter djembe from Ivory coast and it has "only" 28 loops. Never had any problems with reheading, tensioning and it sounds pretty sweet to... The higher knot number (32 and up) is important when reheading thicker cow or calf skins....or maybe very, very, very thick goat skin. :-)
User avatar
By drtom
The number of knots is a good discussion to have. We've had it before and it's sure to come up again.

I think most of us with at least a few reheads under our belts probably use approximately the same number of knots. We've more or less figured out what it takes to do a good job without a ridiculous amount of work.
boromir76 wrote:I have quite large 36 diameter djembe from Ivory coast and it has "only" 28 loops.
That is quite large.:o I know. I know. That's gotta be a typo. Otherwise we'd be talking like 150 knots. :shock:
User avatar
By michi
36 cm, I'd say, which is 14.2".

Assume we are aiming for a knot spacing of 1.25" to 1.5". If I have a 12" drum, 28 knots gives a spacing of 1.35". For every inch added to the diameter of the drum, the circumference increases by 3.14". That means that, if I have 28 knots for a 12" drum, on a 13" inch drum, I get pretty much the same spacing (1.36") with 30 knots. On a 14" inch drum, I get the same spacing (1.37") with 32 knots. On a 15" drum, the spacing is 1.38" with 34 knots.

So, going from 12" to 15", using the rule of thumb of "an extra two knots for every inch", the spacing stays essentially constant. (The 1/100th of an inch change at each step truly is insignificant.)

I use 28 knots for smaller drums, and 32 knots for larger drums. That has worked for hundreds of drums I've done over the years. I've never used more than 32 knots. A 15" drum with 32 knots would get a spacing of 1.47", which would still be perfectly fine.

The previously quoted 36 cm (14.7") drum with 28 knots has a spacing of 1.59". That still works fine (although it gets towards the large end of the spectrum).

Quite often, for shells with a small bottom ring, what limits the number of knots is how many will fit onto the bottom ring. If the drum is "small", just use 28. If the drum is "large", just use 32. If the bottom ring can't fit that many knots, just use whatever smaller number that you can squeeze in.

It really isn't that critical, no need to obsess over it…

User avatar
By djembefeeling
Let me ask again, please, even though it has been discussed before. I was perfectly happy with that spacing you mention before, but this guy I met is doing such marvelous djembes and insists that they sound so good because of his tight spacing. He says you need that for a more even distribution of the pull. He also constructs kamelen ngonis so good that players in Africa want his instruments, also partly because he manages to pull the skin hard and very even.

I am not sure if that really is his secret recipe. The djembes I reheaded which had a tight spacing of knots on the rings where mostly crap djembe and didn't sound that good. The good hardwood stuff usually doesn't have that many knots. But now that this guy makes such amazing djembes, I am not really sure what to think. Who does?
User avatar
By drtom
michi wrote:36 cm, I'd say, which is 14.2".
Good point - not a typo, just not spelled out for us metricphobes.
michi wrote:Quite often, for shells with a small bottom ring, what limits the number ofr knots is how many will fit onto the bottom ring.
Yet another good point.
User avatar
By boromir76
Djembefeeling, my guess would be that more loops probably realy ofer more control over pull, because the skin area afected by each pull is smaller than with bigger loop spacing, but for the price of more work and hasle with the rope etc.. In that matter, Michi's sugested loop spacing rule is probably some kind of ideal compromise between efficiency and optimal tuning quality.
When it comes to tuning, the big number of loops is not guarantee for good sound alone. It would be great if it would be that simple, but many other factors are also on the side of the one who is making the reheading.
User avatar
By djembefeeling
Of course there are a couple of parameters contributing to the good sound of a djembe. My question relates to all other parameters staying the same. It's being a compromise helps. I think I can remember Michi writing somewhere that he couldn't hear any difference from a certain tight spacing on.

Now the djembe of this guy I am talking about is 32,5 cm in diameter and has 45 (!) knots for a thick and strong quality goat skin. He found it ridiculous I would do like 26 knots for that diameter. Even though I do have really good djembes and chose my best one to demonstrate its quality sound for him he said, well, its a djembe for tourists. Because he didn't disappoint me in the quality of his ngonis I risked to order one of his drums that he held in such high esteem.

When it was delivered, the result was just jaw dropping! Never played a djembe like that before! The muffled slaps are unbelievable, they do even sound more intense than the plain slaps. This djembe really forces me into complete relaxation while playing. I always tell my students not to play with brute force but rather with good technique. Now this djembe teaches me what that really means. It sounds ok when I play as usual, but it resonates super crystal clear only when I hit the right spot super relaxed. It feels so fricking different to all the djembes I played before. And it has only two diamonds pulled, yet.

It might sound like I want to do some aggressive advertisement for this guy's djembes, but I don't. Just want to find out if it is really the number of knots plus all the quality material. I do consider redoing one of my best djembes in that style. Since I do not work with a stand I might die trying :giggle: So I better know if it's worth it...