Advice and questions on making and fixing instruments
By DrumGoon
ok, but seriously, jokes aside...

I have been pouring diligently over getting my djembe just right. - see here.

I decided to take it to a local percussion shop - who have a lever puller etc. I left it with them to tune into shape, and the guy called me up barely 90 mins later saying it was done!

It sounded great, but unfortunately I think he rushed it as there is a bad bend in the ring now. He must have pulled very heavily on one side, and the bottom ring was cranked WAAAAY over to one side. How he thought that was good enough, I don't know. See pics... the top is also not even. One side is about 2cm below the top, the other about 1cm :(

I have decided to un-do all his work, and trust in myself to do a good job. I don't want to take it back as I just don't trust them. The problem is: I cannot pull that bend out! He seems to have stretched the skin and permanently put a bend in the rings. I have released the tension, and pulled with all my life on that area, but nothing is happening. Am I wasting my time?

I've also engineered a bit of a trick to stop the bottom ring moving - i've put some wound cardboard (4 pieces) to slot between the wood and the rope knots. I've then tied it with rope to keep it in place.

I've bought a clam cleat to help my future endeavours.
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By the kid
The flesh ring might be be a bit large and another reason why the top ring is uneven. Easy to mess up top and lower rings with pulling bar also. Need to go gently.

I'd wonder is there slight skin slippage too. Again could be down to rings. Better if they are similar size imo.

Knots/loops could be much tighter esp the lower ring. When the loops are tight more chance of friction with the verts which should mean less chance of ropes then rings slipping. Less importance on vice grips then too. More like the ropes want to stay secure. A few more loops with help too. Tie ing tight means easier to fit them in too.

Tie off is messy too and not tidy when doing weave.

I'll try pick out all the faults lol, nah still a1 job for first try. You want to control all aspects yourself in future. The drumskulls pulling tool is so easy to use you might want to invest if doing another job.

100 % dimba too. I know the differences between dimba and iroko :evil:
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By drtom
DrumGoon wrote:
Sun Mar 25, 2018 11:30 am
It sounded great, but
No buts. If the djembe was tuned you should have quit right there. The guy's job was to tune the drum, not correct all the flaws already present.

African djembes are hand made, asymmetrical, one of a kind instruments. Djembe rings bend from the stress they're subjected to. The bending and asymmetry can be kept to a minimum with careful and gradual application of the stress, but there will always be discrepancies in the angles of the bearing edge, verticals, rings, etc.

I commend you for your ideals and promise you that perfection will elude you.
Thanks DrTom,

It's not so much 'ideals' that I am pursuing - I have a good appreciation of the peculiarity of different instruments. I have several guitars, basses, synths, and other stuff - each of which show variable and sometimes kooky characteristics. I am not after perfection, but almost all the djembes that can be seen online do not demonstrate this non-linearity. Most suggest they have been pulled evenly and carefully, with attention to the bottom ring and top ring, and the overall balance of tension.

The key, as you say, is 'careful and gradual application'. This was not done in this instance, in my opinion. I'm curious how you know there were flaws there to begin with?

What i'd like to ask for is guidance on whether this can be rectified, or whether I should be bothered at all. Some might say I should just go ahead and play...fair enough, and I might well do that. For the moment i'm trying to ask, is this fairly normal and acceptable?
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By drtom
Hey DG,

Thanks for your even handed response. Looking at my last post I can see how you might have been more defensive.

Experience tells me the shell is asymetrical. Maybe a little or maybe a lot. The rings are asymetrical. Maybe a little or maybe a lot. From there the best you can hope for is mostly vertical verticals, mostly level rings, etc.

Of course, if the result is so lopsided that you just can't stand it even though the drum sounds great, then you should fix it.

Keep in mind that your beautiful new rope has a limited lifetime. With each pull it suffers wear and tear.

On the other hand, you're learning with each pull. I've learned a lot from this community and hope you do too.
DrumGoon wrote: is this fairly normal and acceptable?
Don't worry anymore, just play. Next time you put another skin on, you can correct the rings by hammering them on a flat hard surface. Pull even and careful, yes, but there are limits to that. When rings bent easily they are usually not strong enough. More knots on the rings help to distribute the force more evenly. That is even better for the sound.