Advice and questions on making and fixing instruments
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By djembefeeling
#38415
I think for quite some years now about how to sustainably buy and sell djembes since I've been told regularly from different sources that deforestation is grim in West Africa.

I brought this subject up on different occasions, but here I want to share my experience with different methods I tried:

1. Sustainable djembes from plantations in West Africa:

Melina wood sounds decent, has relatively little weight and is a bit less pricy. A nice balance of advantages and a good bargain for most costumers. A good online seller is Djembe Webshop Berlin

2. Homegrown woods:

Recently tried a djembe from a homegrown maple tree. One of the best djembes I heard in recent years. I aquired that one also from Djembe Webshop Berlin.

3. Used instruments:

The last line I tried these past weeks is to constantly observe the online market for used instruments via ebay. The market is already so saturated with djembes that I think we hardly need any imports any more. Some used instruments are pricy like this ad I've seen two days ago where someone wants to sell an old Famoudou djembe for 1200,- €. But if you look regularly and carefully, you may find interesting offers. My best deal out of three was an old style lenke shell for 40,-€, with long but slim foot.

The downside is that you don't really know what you get before it's in your hands. Pictures can lie. I got one Mali shell where the ring was too narrow, which is a lot of additional work and some cost to shoulder. I sand the wood, put new cloth and knots on the rings, new rope and skin. Frankly, it's a lot of work and hardly profitable economically. But ecologically it sure is!
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By Dugafola
#38416
i bought 2 new jembe shells this past year....both are used and old!!! one is 20+ years and the other is 10 years old. I also sold a shell to a buddy recently.

for me to buy a brand new, fresh cut jembe shell; it'd have to be something very special or cut to my specifications. i'm going to africa this winter and won't be seeking out a new shell(s) but you never know. I'm more keen on buying some dunun to bring back.

i've seen and played melina drums. they are not for me.

some friends have local hardwood carved jembes and they sound very very good.

at least we don't have some joker over here claiming that the jembe export business is main reason for deforestation in west africa.
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By korman
#38494
Speaking of homegrown woods - one of my relatives has a sweet cherry tree (prunus avium) that probably will be cut before spring. At breast-height it is 35cm wide, so potentially the wood could be salvaged to make something out of it.
Has anyone seen/heard of drums made from european sweet cherry?
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By djembefeeling
#38498
Happy new year to all djembefolas and djembefolettes around the world!

I have never heard of a sweet cherry djembe yet, but I know that it is also a tone wood and so I think it will sound well if well done.

On my journey through eBay for nice used djembes I found my very best offer yet - a true gem! Such a nice shell for 25,-€ + 10,-€ shipping only!!!
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Can anyone tell me what kind of wood this is? It's very heavy and from the colors of the wrapped cloth on the lower ring I'd say it's from the Senegal, but the form is like those from Guinea. Because it is so heavy I'd guess it's iron wood, but haven't had it before so I can't really tell.

All I know is that iron wood is a name that fits different tree types but that in Africa it's usually used for a certain type of tree. Can anyone help me out here? Meanwhile, I will make this shell a stunning djembe with many knots on the rings and one of my very best skins 8)
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By djembefeeling
#38499
Carving a notch for the lower ring, so it holds in it's place and so I don't need to worry about getting to rings at the same time straight:
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By djembefeeling
#38500
Wrapped the rings in new cloth:
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By djembefeeling
#38501
And, of course, engraved my gecko into the wood, trying how it might look as a trademark of my drums with words:
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By the kid
#38502
Nice job. Sweet deal you got on it too.

I really like that batik too. Cool design. Is it an original or a print.
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By djembefeeling
#38503
It's one of these Chinese fabrics, a print. I like the cloth so much, I have let a taylor make me a shirt out of it.

The wood is bushmango (dugura) as the former owner told me. I cannot wait for the skin to dry, I am so curious how this djembe may sound. But the skin is double of the usual decent skins I use. It still doesn't feel dry at the surface, something I never experienced before after like 12 hours of drying.
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By korman
#38505
It's becoming quite a nice-looking djembe!
What is the diameter? I see you're using quite many knots.
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By djembefeeling
#38507
From the most outer points of the wood it has 34 cm in diameter. I literally used a "rule of thumb" by putting my thumb between the knots and I ended up perfectly even with 33 knots.

I am still not sure what kind of wood this is. The guy who taught me building kamelen ngonis says it is a tourist crap djembe from the Senegal and that I shouldn't waist my time on it, but my kora teacher from the Senegal says that is a very old and high quality wood that was used for djembes two generations ago but is hard to find nowadays.... Will need some patience fpr the thick skin to dry before I can crank this up and hear by myself. Any suggestions on the wood?
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By the kid
#38508
Looks to me like Dimba. And looks like many Gambian drums i've seen shape wise, one carver in particular from gambia. BVut it's a pretty standard shape. I'm not overly impressed with this style djembe. I've always found them to be ok. Slightly choked shapewise. When they have a thick goat they can sound much better. Hard to say without seeing the interior?
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By djembefeeling
#38509
So dimba is the same as durura=bushmango, then you agree with the former owner:
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You don't need to be impressed, I am neither. It's the combination of a decent wood with no splinter for 35,- € in total with delivery that thrills me. Hopefully the sound will as well...
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By boromir76
#38510
korman wrote:
Mon Jan 01, 2018 11:39 am
Speaking of homegrown woods - one of my relatives has a sweet cherry tree (prunus avium) that probably will be cut before spring. At breast-height it is 35cm wide, so potentially the wood could be salvaged to make something out of it.
Has anyone seen/heard of drums made from european sweet cherry?
Not from cherry. Cherry tree like many other european fruit trees rarely grows enough big to be suitable for making an average sized djembe. Nonetheless, if you have a chance to get yourself enough big cherry log, I see no reason that it's wood would not be more than suitable for making nice djembe. This wood is quite hard and also beautiful. One thing that could be challenging thou, is drying it. I don't know for cherry wood, but many european woods tend to crack when they are not carefully dried.
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By djembefeeling
#38844
The dimba djembe turned out to be very "polyphonic", sounds very different depending from which side I play it. So you can fairly say I have four djembes in one ;) I needed to tune it to the last row until it turned into one of these ballet bombs. Still I have four in one, but one sid sounds great.

My newest baby in the sustainable project is another home grown maple, again. It's huge, almost 34 cm in diameter, and I used a very thick goat again. I have to wait some time befor it's comletely dry, and hope for a more harmonic interplay of frequencies this time:
.
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