Advice and questions on keeping your instruments in top form
User avatar
By Shaeren
#33646
Hey, I had a question about tuning an old djembe. I've never tuned a djembe before and was going to have a first go at one of my old drums.

Before I do it though, I was hoping for opinions on the number of diamonds to do. Some people suggest that you need to do a whole round to keep the tension even, but others say you should only do as many diamonds as you feel you need. What do you guys think?

I'm not sure I could do a whole round without popping the skin!
User avatar
By michi
#33647
No need to do the whole round. Just flip diamonds until it sound the way you like it. Add more diamonds gradually as the skin drops in pitch over time. Rinse and repeat until the skin breaks :)

Cheers,

Michi.
User avatar
By Shaeren
#33648
Thanks Michi, that confirms my gut instinct. For some reason everyone here seems very unwilling to try rope tuning their djembes, including the teachers! I was told many horror stories of how hard it is lol, but I just couldn't stand to see my old Kambala slowly go flat though.

It would have been nice to have someone more experienced to demonstrate it for me, but given the circumstances I figured I may as well just give it a go myself. The only way I'll learn is through trial and error so if I make a mistake so be it.

Having said that, I've successfully added some new diamonds and now when I try to add a new one the diamond just flips open again, so I'm guessing that's a sign the skin is fairly tight now. It does mean I'm left with that dreaded partial row ;) but it certainly sounds better.
User avatar
By alifaa
#33649
Hi Shaeren,

I have found that if the knots keep flipping out, that can happen when the knots get done backwards. I'll explain... when I do my knots, I use the Mali 4 weave instead of the Guinea 3 weave, so I go UNDER the next 2 verticals. If I were to go OVER instead, I have found that it does indeed flip itself back out. If doing the Guinea weave, I find that going OVER first helps lock it in place, but I rarely do that one.

Depending on which version of knot you do, try doing it OVER or UNDER instead and see if it makes a difference.

Wayne
User avatar
By Shaeren
#33657
Interesting - it's like you read my mind! When going over didn't work I immediately tried reversing it and managed to get my new diamonds that way. However it now flips out regardless unless I try and get the rope under the next two to secure it, but that just seemed more effort than it's worth and made it harder to keep my diamonds from creeping up the bowl.
User avatar
By Beerfola
#33658
Securing the rope under the next two is exactly how I keep the diamonds from rolling out. Just make sure to pull down at every stage to keep the diamonds from creeping up the bowl. Once the diamond has been formed it is harder (impossible?) to get the rope to move down.
User avatar
By Waraba
#33659
Shaeren wrote:Hey, I had a question about tuning an old djembe. I've never tuned a djembe before and was going to have a first go at one of my old drums.

Before I do it though, I was hoping for opinions on the number of diamonds to do. Some people suggest that you need to do a whole round to keep the tension even, but others say you should only do as many diamonds as you feel you need. What do you guys think?

I'm not sure I could do a whole round without popping the skin!

Speaking of this, I had an oval djembe that gave different pitches around the head, so I decided to experiment to see if I could level out the sound. I skipped over the wide (high pitched) side and made diamonds just under the narrow (low pitched) sides. Logical, but it did absolutely nothing. The high sides stayed higher and the low sides stayed lower. It sounded exactly the same as if I'd gone straight around.

And no one asked for this, but here it is: in Mali, they call diamonds in the djembe rope "Koh-FLEE" which means butterfly. Also, the lick bass-flam bass-flam base-flam is also called koh flee.
User avatar
By michi
#33661
And no one asked for this, but here it is: in Mali, they call diamonds in the djembe rope "Koh-FLEE" which means butterfly. Also, the lick bass-flam bass-flam base-flam is also called koh flee.
Thanks for that, that's nice bit of djembe lore! :)

Michi.
By Kaitaro
#33662
Pulling it down low is most definitely a key to make a neat row and successful tuning. In order to make it really low and straight, I go under 2 verticals and when I come back to to go under the 1st rope, I make sure the "turning point of rope" is lower than the "original starting point of rope". Hope this make sense. Then you have really straight row. It does become hard to do after 2nd row or so, but works great for your 1st round.

Kai
User avatar
By drtom
#33671
Waraba wrote: Speaking of this, I had an oval djembe that gave different pitches around the head, so I decided to experiment to see if I could level out the sound. I skipped over the wide (high pitched) side and made diamonds just under the narrow (low pitched) sides. Logical, but it did absolutely nothing. The high sides stayed higher and the low sides stayed lower. It sounded exactly the same as if I'd gone straight around.
You had a great idea, but maybe you failed to take it the distance. Did you try adding the second row? The third?

OK, here's an opportunity for us to grow collectively. Everyone with an oval drum do as Waraba suggests and tune only the low pitched sides. Add several rows if necessary (obviously stop before the dreaded "R R R I P")

This seems like a worthwhile experiment that's quite doable without expense or a great deal of time and effort. Any takers?

drtom
User avatar
By michi
#33672
This seems like a worthwhile experiment that's quite doable without expense or a great deal of time and effort. Any takers?
I don't think we even need oval drums for this. If I have a round drum without any diamonds, and that drum has even pitch all around its circumference, all I need to do is add a few diamonds and check whether the drum now no longer has uneven pitch.

My experience has been that, even with a third or half of a row completed, I don't get uneven pitch around the circumference. That's true even if I'm on the third row, and each new diamond puts a noticeable kink into the rings directly above it.

For some reason, it seems that applying the pull only on one side doesn't tune the drum unevenly.

Cheers,

Michi.
User avatar
By drtom
#33673
michi wrote: My experience has been that, even with a third or half of a row completed, I don't get uneven pitch around the circumference.
Michi.
That's been my experience as well - but with drums that are evenly pitched all the way around.

I have yet to try tuning a drum as Waraba has suggested, and I think it's worth a try. If it works - GREAT! If not we've put the question to rest.

drtom
User avatar
By michi
#33675
drtom wrote:That's been my experience as well - but with drums that are evenly pitched all the way around.

I have yet to try tuning a drum as Waraba has suggested, and I think it's worth a try. If it works - GREAT! If not we've put the question to rest.
Fair enough! My guess is that the shape won't make any difference. I've had oval drums from customers that I tuned normally, and never experienced problems with uneven pitch.

BTW, it's possible to have uneven pitch on any drum. It seems that, if the skin is fitted with uneven tension to begin with, there can be pitch differences in the tones played with the left and right hand. But, so far, the differences have always been utterly minor for me. Less than a quarter tone difference, if that.

Having said all this, I remember being in San Diego in 2009, when Mamady gave his drum to Kahlil and one other person (forget who now) to tune during the workshop. When they were done and handed his drum back to him, Mamady tapped a tone on the left and the right and there was a very small difference in pitch. He winced and shook his head at the two guys in a rather disapproving way. The pitch difference was truly small; many people would not have been able to tell the difference at all. I guess that makes Mamady one picky djembe player :)

Cheers,

Michi.
By davidognomo
#33687
Hey, guys. I noticed a difference in pitch on most of the skins I've had on my non perfectly round djembe. Pitch is always higher on the sides than on the spine. I always place the spine on the longest diameter.I attribute this difference in pitch to the difference in thickness on the skin.
User avatar
By michi
#33691
Depending on the difference in thickness between spine and the sides of the skin, you can get small pitch differences. But, for me, when that happens, the pitch has always been a little lower on the sides and a little higher on the spine, not the other way around.

But then, I'm one of those people who prefer to put the spine on the shortest diameter. Maybe there is a correlation here? I honestly don't know…

Michi.