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ringing overtony djembe - Djembefola - Djembe Forum

Advice and questions on keeping your instruments in top form
By rafnef
Greetings my name is David and i'm obviously new here. So i just got a 13-14in head X8 Stallion djembe and i've attempted to tune it properly yet to no avail. I have created the diamonds almost all the around the djembe yet there is still significant ringing. There is a hint of pop to it but the sound lingers annoyingly. Should i take it somewhere to get it tuned or can i fix this myself? Its so hard getting proper slaps and tones when it rings so much. thank you for any advice.
User avatar
By the kid
It could be the drum. Generally these drums are regarded as poor in comparrison to a genuine West African Djembe

You should be able to tune this your self. Is it a real goat skin or what?

I'd presume the skin that came on the drum is very thin and was processed. A West African goat will make it sound better. If you really love playing, it'd be better to try get a proper drum do.
By rafnef
it claims to have african goat skin. There's got to be a way to at least minimize the ringing. They also pre-tuned it a little. They have a tuning tutorial on the website and it demonstrated using only two verticals for each diamond, yet when it arrived and i looked at it they moved to using four verticals each diamond. So under four then back over two then tighten. Could that be part of the issue?
User avatar
By michi
There are two ways to reduce ring:
  • Increase tension
  • Dampen the skin
The more you tighten the skin, the less ring you get. The down-side is twofold: the ring may not completely go away at the point where the skin is what you'd consider tight enough, so you may need to tune the drum to a pitch you'd rather not have it at. And, of course, higher tensions means shorter skin life.

If, once you are at the proper pitch, you still get some ringing, you can apply electrical tape to reduce ringing. You can also experiment with applying short pieces of electrical tape to the underside of the skin. By varying the number and position of the pieces of tape, you may be able to reduce the ringing without over-dampening the skin.

If the interior of your drum is quite smooth, you may have to live with the ringing though...


User avatar
By michi
What, though, should i use to dampen the skin?
Electrical tape applied from underneath, or try electrical tape around the playing edge, as described in Bubudi's post I linked to.

User avatar
By Erny
Hi together,

new to this community but not new to playing djembes (1 traditional rope-tuned Mali-drum, 1 industrial manufactured rope tuned Meinl-drum and 1 key-tuned Remo Black earth 14"-drum) I want to share my experience with the Remo and the well known "ringing-problem" of it.

By the way, as the forum-language is not my mother-language it might be possible, that some of my descriptions are a bit complicated to understand, but I hope it´ll work in spite of that.

In order to reduce the "ringing" I tried the well known measurements as weather-tape applied inside the drum combined with tape on the head, but all of these measures didn´t result in the expected effect. Reading something about "muffling-rings", I just cut a stripe of foamed material (height and width: 1", length: inner perimeter below drum-head) and applied this in contact with the head. This piece of material touches the head and remains in its position by the tension of its own. The effect of doing so is extraordinary, the "ringing" has gone and the influence on bass, tone and slap is merely to hear. I am very satisfied with this and maybe someone of you wants to try it to.

The described way doesn´t create a "traditional djembe" but is able to produce a much dryer sound without "ringing and pinging" than before. Changingover the drum is a question of a few seconds!

I didn´t try if this method also works on a traditional wood-djembe with natural skin but maybe you´ll want to test it?

..Erny (from Germany)
User avatar
By rachelnguyen
You know what? If that drum is new and still under warrantee, I would send the sucker back. The bottom line with the balinese lathe turned mahogany shells is that they don't sound that great in the best of circumstances... but if yours is that ringy right off the bat, you probably have a dud. I would give them a call and at least try and get them to send you another drum.... if not offer a refund.

If you bought it used, then, yeah, fiddle with all the tape and stuff. Or throw the thing back on Craigslist and take the scratch to buy a decent quality African drum. You can get nice ones in the $250 to $300 range. It is worth it!!!!

My first drum was a balinese mahogany toca 12 inch with a processed to death pakistani head. I played it for about 3 months before I realized I simply HAD to get a real (read African) drum. Never looked back. And a few months later, was able to sell the Toca to someone who loves it.
User avatar
By jeffduyndam
Crumple up one sheet of newspaper and shove it up into the inside of the bowl. Walah!

It even makes my already sweet djembe sound better.

Doug Brush recently move here and he says that some of the djembe players in Chicago do that when they record in a studio.

It might sound silly, but it really works...
User avatar
By Djembe-nerd
I agree with Rachel. I had one of those X8 and I returened it after playing it a week. They will charge you 15% restocking fee which is a fine print in their satisfaction gurantee but you will be done with it. They probably use thin treated skins. Mine was very ringy too, it can also be the wood or the lathe turned shell, too many variables to fight to take the ring away.

I would return the sucker and get a good real one too.
User avatar
By Erny
The paper-trick doesn´t work on a remo (which, I know, is supposed not to be a djembe!). The paper in the bowl influences the bass of my drum but not at all the well-known ringing an pinging.

A few threats higher I described a method but today I found out another very effective one. You just have to remove the head, apply weatherstrip 1/2" wide, 1/4" high (self-adhesive foam, not the rubber one) on the top-end of the wooden bowl and remount the head again. Thus the foam is in the whole zone of contact between the skin and the bowl and this simple method kills any ringing and pinging.

IMHO I guess, that modifications of the bowl do not have a big influence on these undesired overtones, I think it is only a question of damping the skin itself (but this is only my personal experience with my drum)

By snargle
I've used a small glob of Blu-Tack™ adhesive putty on the underside of the skin to tame a ringing djembe. You can vary the amount and position for different amounts of dampening, it's easily removable, and doesn't leave any residue.

Although I've never tried it, it looks like the Moongel™ damper product used by kit drummers might work similarly...but it's probably a lot more expensive!

Neither of these solutions are going to sound as good as a proper djmebe with a well-matched skin, but in a pinch, it can make a bad, ringing djembe tolerable.
By tfc
I want to share a new idea I came up with for damping the ringy overtones. It is along the foam tape line, but definitely lower tech, and potentially longer lasting. When I put a new skin on a drum I rub beeswax on the rim to lubricate it. I was trying to think of a way to get a bead of beeswax along the inside corner between the head and rim to try to reduce pinginess. One problem is that beeswax is a little too brittle. I wanted something softer and stickier. Then I remembered visiting my friends who have little kids. They had these things called wikki stix. They are basically sticky strings. I actually went out to look for those but couldn't find them. They are cheap and I would have used them if I could have. Then I remembered that I have wax for my bow string. It is a mixture of beeswax and other stuff to soften it. You could find various recipes for that, but it is easy to go buy a small tube at a sporting goods store as well. I had it on hand. I measured a piece of heavy string (I used braided, but you could probably use butchers just as well probably 1/16 dia.) by laying it out on the drum head. A little too long much better than too short. I melted about a Tablespoon of the wax and soaked the string in it. It was perfect! Just like a really long wikki stick. While the wax was still warm, I wrapped it around my middlefinger loosely from the bottom toward the tip so it wouldn't get tangled then stuck my arm all the way up into the drum. I used my index finger to press it into the corner as tightly as possible all the way around. It is tempting to drag your finger forward to insert more string at one time but I found this would tend to pull earlier string out of place. It was better to just keep pressing and moving forward slowly. The good news is it worked! It got rid of the overtones I didn't like without changing the sound too much, it is easily reversible, easily reapplied, even if not a traditional technique it uses materials consistent with the instrument. Try it out! Post your experience here. I would like to know how this technique compares to the other options.

User avatar
By Tom
Hello David,

Wow, I was surprised to hear that you are unsatisfied with your x8 Stallion djembe, especially after reading x8's description of it on their website (below).

"The Black Stallion Pro African djembe drum is a professional level djembe that sounds absolutely fantastic and is built to perfection. Made with the utmost care and attention to detail this Pro African djembe drum is a hand-carved beauty that is not only stunning but a true work of art. It just doesn’t get any better than this!"

Apparently you were promised the absolute perfect hand-carved professional African djembe, so maybe there is some kind of unusual defect. I suggest that you return it to x8, and then they can in turn return it to Africa where it came from. Most likely the Africans who built it can figure out the nature of the problem and then re-carve it to meet the professional level of perfection which X8 promises.

Good luck.
User avatar
By rachelnguyen
Hey Tom,

Are you making a joke? LOL.

X8 drums are not good. Right in the description it says:

We take great pride that our djembe drums are environmentally friendly. Each drum is made from legally harvested/Government inspected and certified Mahogany.

So, bad wood to start with.

Then it goes on to say:

Lathe turned for uniform thickness
Lateral groove/rough surfaced carvings on interior bowl to reduce overtones

So, apparently the hand carving thing really only refers to the decorations on the outside and some roughing up of the inside. Also, even though they call it an African djembe, they are referring to the style, not the area of origin. These things are made in Indonesia.

(quote:Our manufacturer in Indonesia uses government inspected legally harvested wood.)

All in all, for $280 bucks, you get a machine made mahogany djembe with a processed head. For about the same price (or a little more) you can get a real hand carved African djembe with an African goatskin head.
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