Advice and questions on keeping your instruments in top form
User avatar
By Tom
#22347
rachelnguyen wrote:Are you making a joke? LOL.
Yes, I was just amusing myself.
rachelnguyen wrote:X8 drums are not good.
Ha ha ha. I appreciate your bluntness, but I believe that you may be guilty of making an understatement.

Okay, I'm making jokes again, but there is a not-so-funny side to this. People work hard for their money, and they put their trust in x8 when they make a purchase. But x8's website is a slick, well devised scheme for fooling first time buyers into buying very bad quality djembes, and at outrageously high prices (when I inquired with their Indonesian supplier about wholesale prices, the price list they sent offers full size djembes such as the Stallion for about $20, shipping included).

They also make a convincing argument that buying African djembes from Africa is a bad thing, due to environmental concerns, and that buying djembes made from wood harvested from Indonesian plantations is environmentally sound; but in truth it is the other way around. Robert S. Eshelman, a writer for the Brooklyn Rail, has written extensively about deforestation in Indonesia (for some great environmental articles check out http://www.robertseshelman.com). He wrote an Article in the Brooklyn Rail titled 'Report From Indonesia: front line in the fight against climate change'. Here is a quote form the article:

"Indonesia is ground zero for deforestation. Every year, 3.5 million acres of some of the most biologically diverse tropical rain forests in the world are destroyed in order to make way for plantations of fast growing acacia trees...Americans unwittingly contribute to the destruction of these primeval old growth forests - home to Sumatran tigers, elephants, rhinoceroses, and orangutans...The clearing of Indonesia's rain forests to feed the American fast food and paper-pushing [and fake djembe (my addition)] economy is an obscenity of titanic proportions..."

x8 promotes the fact that their djembes are harvested from government certified plantation wood, but, beyond the problem of rapid deforestation of diverse primeval forests to make room for sterile tree plantations, these certifications are coming from a country whose forest ministry which is well known for corruption. Anyone who does a little research will discover that it is all just a big sham, but companies like x8 take advantage of customers' ignorance of the facts.

They also take advantage of their customers' ignorance of what constitutes an "African djembe". They sell a BAD product, but have gone all out to promote it as the very best, professional quality available. No shame. If they were honest they would clearly state that their "African" drums are made in Indonesia and NOT Africa, but the only way you can figure that out is from their statements about environmental concerns. It is all lies from the start, because it is not even Mahogany wood they use. Here is a quote from Wikepedia:

"The alluringly-named "Philippine Mahogany" sold in North America is not a mahogany at all, but actually a mixture of woods from the genus Shorea".

Sorea, as in Acacia; also used to produce paper pulp.

So why are they picking on African djembes anyway? In my experience, African made African djembes :doh: are cut selectively from the forests, which allows the forest (as opposed to a plantation) to survive. The djembes are also cut, sectioned, and carved all with hand tools. Where we work you can't even get a vehicle into the forest area, and so the HEAVY rough shells are walked out by foot and over long distances. Now compare that to the slash and burn methods used to create the tree plantations in Indonesia. And we are talking about djembes in the context of deforestation and global climate change, which is like worrying about the mosquito buzzing around your head when there's a semi-truck bearing down upon you. Timber companies, paper companies, and coal producers, among others, are stripping the forests with slash and burn techniques at an incredibly rapid rate.Yes, all of us drum producers have a responsibility to replace what we take, but all of us should be aware of the facts involved in global deforestation. Eventually we will get information up on our site that will help educate potential buyers, and to combat the misinformation being put out by disreputable companies like x8; companies who are just profiteering off the djembe culture without actually being involved in it, and who prey on newcomers and their ignorance of the djembe.

Okay, have I said too much? Well it's all Rachael's fault for getting me started. I did not even want to lay all of this out on Djembefola because it might be seen as demeaning a competitor, but I don't really view them as a competitor since we are on complete opposite ends of the market. Besides, I believe it is in the best interest of everyone (other than x8) for the truth to be told.

And David, I'm sorry to say this, but x8 lied to you. They sold you a lemon. You can try to 'squeeze' the ring out of it, but you'll feel better if you just swallow the 15% restocking fee and buy an African African djembe. Djembefola is a great resource for finding a good djembe at a reasonable price.
User avatar
By Djembe-nerd
#22349
Oh, Tom will get me started again. I will try to be short :-)

I experienced this first hand, when I heard the sound of djembe, I wanted one, so I go to google and first thing that comes up is X8 (sponsored). I knew nothing about djembe and the words and the website put together a convincing arguement. SO I bought one, was happy till I went to my first West african class, So I now I was angry cos I was fooled, No problem, X8 website says money back guranttee, so I will return it. Paid shipping back, and they refunded after cutting 15% as stocking fee, which is a fine print in the money back guranttee.

So I sucked it up and got my first real djembe from Djembe direct, and the second from DSD and then from RHD and then from Wula. I had forgotten that but it came back again.

DON'T BUY FROM X8, Their drums are crap and they cheat.

That will be all :-)
User avatar
By michi
#22350
tfc wrote:When I put a new skin on a drum I rub beeswax on the rim to lubricate it.
I would be very careful with putting wax anywhere near the skin. A very experienced drum maker here tells me that beeswax weakens the skin. He's been making drums for nearly twenty years and probably forgotten more about drum making than I've ever learned, so I trust his judgement.
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.
Again, I would advise against this. A commercial wax is likely to contain mineral oils, which are definitely not good for a skin. Here is the experience of a friend of mine: She did a reskin job on her djembe and used a household candle to wax the playing edge before fitting the skin. The wax made the edge all nice and shiny, and slippery, which is good when you crank the skin. Unfortunately, household candles are made from paraffin, which is a mineral oil. Two days later, the drum was in the sun, and wax on the rim melted, and worked its way into the skin where the skin contacted the rim. First, the skin went transparent (as in, literally, "see through") and two days later, it popped along the rim.

With your wax string wedged under the skin, the first time the drum gets warm, the wax is likely to melt and get absorbed into the skin, potentially doing serious damage. If you want to get rid of the ringing, I'd recommend to increase tension, if possible. Otherwise, try various pieces of electrical tape applied to the underside, or apply the tape around the rim, as described here.

Cheers,

Michi.
User avatar
By michi
#22351
Djembe-nerd wrote:So I sucked it up and got my first real djembe from Djembe direct, and the second from DSD and then from RHD and then from Wula. I had forgotten that but it came back again.

DON'T BUY FROM X8, Their drums are crap and they cheat.
There is a market for cheaper djembe copies, such as the ones from Indonesia. Not everyone can afford to buy a genuine African drum. And some of the drums I've seen from Bali are actually decent. Well made, with good craftsmanship. I believe that they do represent a legitimate budget option, and I do sell drums from Bali to students occasionally.

Having said that, they'll never sound like the real thing, and I make that absolutely clear from the beginning. Here is a quote from a brochure we provide to our students:
If you are on a budget, we have Indonesian djembes made of teak. The drums have
good proportions and are carved and assembled well, and we can recommend them
as a budget alternative. They cost around $330 and they sound good. Be aware
though that the sound of these drums will never be as good as that of a genuine
djembe and you will likely replace such a drum with a better one as you progress.
I guess X8 are entitled to sell whatever they want to. Putting the word "African" into the name of a copy from Indonesia is misleading and unethical, but not illegal.

As I wrote elsewhere:
Not surprisingly, caveat emptor applies to djembes as much as everything else. Pretty much by definition, people who buy a poor-quality overpriced drum haven't done their research, otherwise they wouldn't be buying it. And the manufacturers who sell these drum have found a market niche, specialising in buyers who don't do their research. In a sense, that's a perfect arrangement: buyer and seller both get what they want.
One problem with the Indonesian budget djembes is that they make it harder for sellers such as Wula and Drumskull to make a living because the uninformed buyer can't tell the difference in quality. But, Tom, you do have a choice: for example, Wula could decide to sell Indonesian copies alongside the genuine ones and take a slice of the pie. (Not that I expect Wula to actually do that ;) ) But you can sell these drums without lying to people.

Besides, anyone who buys an Indonesian djembe to start with and keeps playing with any degree of seriousness eventually ends up trading up to the real thing anyway, so the customer is not lost. And the lower price of an Indonesian copy lowers the entry threshold. Many an excellent djembe player started out with a cheap copy; without cheap copies being available, that same person may never have started drumming at all.

To me the problem with X8 isn't so much the drums they sell (which are pretty much all crap), but the unethical way in which they go about doing so. As Tom did, all we can do is call out such sellers when we come across them. It will help a few people to avoid making a poor purchase.

Side anecdote:

I recently got a phone call from someone who wanted to buy a gift certificate for a friend for drumming classes with us. She told me that he is mad keen and about to go out to buy a djembe for the classes. I told her that it might be a good idea for him to talk to us first because we could provide advice on what's available and the various trade-offs in quality and price. She told me "not necessary, he's an experienced percussionist and knows what he's doing."

The following Saturday, he showed up with this:
DJ-0014-BE-2T.jpg
14" Remo Black Earth
DJ-0014-BE-2T.jpg (11.41 KiB) Viewed 3064 times
You just can't help some people...

Finally, courtesy of Remo, here is a demonstration of just that "djembe". Enough said... :(



Cheers,

Michi.
By pepperonihead
#22352
I am so glad that I studied hard for four months before I bought my first Djembe. When I spend a lot of money on something I want the best. I saw all the eBay Djembes, the S8 drums, the Craigslist Djembes, and every variety. I must admit I was attracted to the prices of those drums. But something just didn't seem to be right to me. So I kept studying. I read and read and read. Then I took lessons. For four months every one was telling me, "just get a drum!" But I held out. I played many many drums. All good African drums. For some reason there was not drum in all that time that I reached out and grabbed me. One day I walked into class and the guy that fixes drums at the store showed me a drum he had just tuned. I picked it up and something happened. It just felt right. I played it for that class and I fell in love. And of course it is an authentic African djembe with African goat skin head, the wood is Dugura, and it has an amazing sound. One of the master drummers got mad because he had his eye on it but I got it first. All the other drummers and my teacher Malik told me I got a really good drum. The extra money was worth it.
It is my first drum and it is awesome.
There is a picture of it in the show off your ax thread but here is one too.
Attachments
photos from phone 204.jpg
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User avatar
By Trog
#22354
My wife and I started drumming 11 months ago with a 10" for her and a 12" Toca African djembes made in Indonesia. I sold mine after 3 months to a Lady that was glad to buy it and my wife still likes her drum so much that she won't even allow me to reskin it. So I think there is a place for fair priced low end drums. Some people never get too far into drumming and use it mainly for meditation purposes.
Others, like us consider it a musical instrument and try to perfect all the sound out of our drums. So we want a drum that can give us the sounds we want and a drum of Quality that will last our life times and longer. These drums IMO only come from Africa and African hardwoods, but the buyer still needs to be very careful because there is vast quality differences in some of the drums coming out of Africa. I have seen lower quality African drums that had the price tag of much better drums.
I don't own a Wula drum but I greatly appreciate the quality of his and his carvers craftsmanship.
User avatar
By Tom
#22358
It is a question of ethics, and not of making absolute judgments on whether a certain product has a right to be sold. Lower quality djembes have their place and purpose, and it is all very subjective. The statement that the x8 drums are of "BAD quality" is made relative to x8's statements about their drums being of the highest professional quality. So my problem with it is not the actual drum, but with their misleading information on quality and on environmental issues...as well as with their price vs their cost; although that gets a little more difficult to judge, as I only have information on their hard costs and not their operating costs. Still, a markup from $20 to $280 is a little suspect!
And the manufacturers who sell these drum have found a market niche, specializing in buyers who don't do their research. In a sense, that's a perfect arrangement: buyer and seller both get what they want.
Here I would argue that the problem is that first time buyer's often don't know what they want, and they don't posses the criteria to differentiate anyway, so they end up with what they don't want; only they find that out later. They are led to believe that they are buying professional quality at a discounted price while supporting a 'green' company, all of which is not true. And we can't conclude that they've not done any research, as they've obviously read x8's info and possibly the info of others. But the djembe market is full of misleading and confusing information. They see a well organized and convincing website like x8's and they think its legit, so they conclude their research and buy.

Like Michi said, you can sell these drums without lying to people. Its just that lying is much more profitable. :twisted:
User avatar
By michi
#22359
Tom wrote:The statement that the x8 drums are of "BAD quality" is made relative to x8's statements about their drums being of the highest professional quality. So my problem with it is not the actual drum, but with their misleading information on quality and on environmental issues...
Yes. They are crap djembes being advertised as the top-quality real thing. That's ethically questionable...
as well as with their price vs their cost; although that gets a little more difficult to judge, as I only have information on their hard costs and not their operating costs. Still, a markup from $20 to $280 is a little suspect!
I'm sure they make a tidy profit on each one they sell. Although, having imported drums from Bali myself, I know first-hand that, what on the surface may appear to be an obscene mark-up may actually be reasonable. I wrote about this here.
And the manufacturers who sell these drum have found a market niche, specializing in buyers who don't do their research. In a sense, that's a perfect arrangement: buyer and seller both get what they want.
Here I would argue that the problem is that first time buyer's often don't know what they want, and they don't posses the criteria to differentiate anyway, so they end up with what they don't want; only they find that out later.
Yes, but the buyer is at least partly to blame. After all, what do they expect? They go and browse websites for a product they know nothing about and then buy something. It really shouldn't come as a surprise to them that, knowing nothing about what they are buying, they end up buying something of low quality that is too expensive.

A smarter approach would be to seek out a drumming circle and ask other drummers or, better, ask a teacher. As an analogy, if I want to learn sailing and know nothing about it whatsoever, I don't rock up for my first sailing lesson with a sailing boat that I just chose from a website because the description sounded good...
They are led to believe that they are buying professional quality at a discounted price while supporting a 'green' company, all of which is not true. And we can't conclude that they've not done any research, as they've obviously read x8's info and possibly the info of others. But the djembe market is full of misleading and confusing information. They see a well organized and convincing website like x8's and they think its legit, so they conclude their research and buy.
I'm not trying to absolve X8 of their responsibility here. They are definitely contributing to the problem. But the consumer is at least as much to blame. Choosing a djembe by browsing websites is doing sloppy research.
Like Michi said, you can sell these drums without lying to people. Its just that lying is much more profitable. :twisted:
That, unfortunately, is true :(

Michi.
User avatar
By Marshall
#22480
michi wrote:Finally, courtesy of Remo, here is a demonstration of just that "djembe". Enough said... :(



Cheers,

Michi.
Killer riffs! Sounds like a style from Turkey? The Remo goblet drum is much better suited to Arabic-style percussion than "African".

Edit: "in my opinion"
By McLellan-djembetoula
#22868
The ringing overtones come from the fact that the drum was made on a lathe (same principle applies to remo).
Because the rim is perfectly round and perfectly flat, the whole surface harmonizes with itself. A handcarved djembe is almost never perfectly round AND perfectly flat and if it was it wouldn't be for long, nor would you want it to be.
The imperfections of a real african goat skin coupled with the many small variations that come of handcarving are what give a djembe its characteristic short tone and slap (very little overtones or singing between notes).
If the surface isn't perfectly flat then it will interfere with itself and if it isn't perfectly round then it is like different length strings- they will not vibrate to the same frequency and end up cancelling each other out (no overtones).
A perfect circle sings.
What sounds good? All the best sounding djembe I have played have had a least a little 'character'.
User avatar
By Erny
#22877
Sorry to contradict, but according to my experiences ringing only depends from the skin of a drum. If you own a ringing drum you´ll be able to abolish this noise by changing the damping of the skin e.g. by using thick electrical tape or something similiar. Physically seen this is nothing else than adding a small mass to influence certain vibrations. Therefore it´s very important to find the right position for applying the tape. High frequencies are most efficiently influenced within an area of 2" starting from the biggest diameter of the drum. This can also be simulated by using the finger-tip on the skin with very low pressure while drumming with the other hand.

I own drums with uneven bowls ringing and vice versa.

Cheers...
...Erny
By McLellan-djembetoula
#22931
They all ring if they aren't tuned up. That doesn't prove anything. I have never heard a remo not sing. And as for tape on the skin.. it isn't natural, and I have never seen an African do it. All you are doing is muting the skin. Djembe are supposed to be loud, why would you mute it? A real African djembe with a real goatskin with the usual host of minor imperfections will not ring like a remo. Unless it is a poor skin and it breaks first, it can be tuned to not ring. Play it, tune it, repeat as needed. The ring will go away. It isn't like tuning a guitar, you have to break in the skin and keep tightening it until it gets there. Tape? My guess is that your drum is not tuned up the way it should be.
May I suggest that we call them "djembe shaped" and not djembe? A djembe is much more than the shape of the drum. An aluminum drum is not a djembe no matter what shape it is, just as an acacia wood drum might be djembe shaped, but I don't think it is a djembe. They are great for getting people started, but no djembefola would ever play one.