Advice and questions on keeping your instruments in top form
By ben2056
Hi all,

So I finally decided to get my skin fixed on my Djembe after having it tear during the winter months. Luckily there was someone close by who has a lot of experience with Djembes. So for the price of $80.00 which includes everything, I didn't think that was to bad.

Basically, he told me that it is a decorative drum, and not really meant to be played "seriously". Obviously you can still play it. But he mentioned the different was at the rim and how everything was roped. Around the rim there where knots touching.

Exactly like this: Image

What my question is, is there a way to restring the whole thing to make it more practical (i.e spacing between the knots around the head). Or is it worth just paying the extra cash to have him do it. (I'm of course broke though) :lol:

Thanks for the insight everyone!
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By michi
Hi Ben,

is that the exact drum you are playing? The rim is very uneven, the rope is poor quality, and the wood is not a traditional wood. This looks like a copy from Ghana to me, probably made of white Tweneboa wood, which is poorly suited for djembes.

To be honest, I wouldn't put any more money into this drum than you already have. Play it while you are saving up for something better, and then go and get a genuine drum made of a traditional wood and with good quality rope.


By bubudi
well, you said you need a new skin, and if he's going to give you new skin and rope, $80 seems like a pretty good deal to me. if you tried to do it yourself, by the time you bought the skin and rope you would have spent more than half that and probably won't get as good a result on your first time. it is probably a lot more work than you figured, anyway. but i agree that when you get better you should look into getting a better drum. check out some of the drums on . they cater for a range of budgets (no afiliation).
By ben2056
Thanks guys I figured I upload some pictures to help us all out. The djembe doesn't really have a good crack to the slap at all, maybe it's my bad technique but wait till you look at the pictures.

I'm pretty sure I did this wrong because after i out in all the weaves the djembe doesn't sound any different. Been frustrating me a lot. The tuning rope that's usually supposed to be in the bottom is actually in the middle, hopefully you can make it out from the picture.

So hopefully you guys can tell me what I'm doing wrong with the weave because the way I'm doing it (over two, under two, through the middle) is just not working. Did the whole drum this way and doesn't sound any different... Please help haha.
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By drtom
Hey Ben,

Please correct me if I'm wrong.

As I understand it, the drum has already been reskinned. While $80 is a great price for skinning a djembe, what's the point if the drum builder has no respect for the drum and has no intention of making it sing? The bearing edge should have been levelled and resurfaced and the drum tuned before you ever touched it again.

If you need to tune this drum it's because the drum builder didn't do his job.

It's true that Ghana djembes tend to be poorly made of less-than-superior materials, but I've skinned many, many, many Ghana djembes with great results.

Of course, it took some time and effort.

The rope is made of good material, but it's a thin, coreless weave. Really good djembe rope will consist of a woven sheath around a woven core of similar materials.

Ghana-style crowns are actually superior to most crowns I've seen. What they do is cover the entire ring with loops then double them up and treat them as singles. That's why you have "knots touching".

Leave the crown alone.

I respect you for making the effort to tune the drum. You're not doing the weave correctly, but keep trying. There are plenty of detailed threads on this forum or elsewhere on the web that can guide you. Look around and good luck.

Please feel free to post more questions.

By bubudi
drtom wrote:Ghana-style crowns are actually superior to most crowns I've seen. What they do is cover the entire ring with loops then double them up and treat them as singles. That's why you have "knots touching".
that depends on the rope used. like you said, the rope is not so great.

however, ben, if you're having a little trouble with the mali weave, i'd take tom's advice and hold off doing anything with the crown ring.

my advice: most drum tuners have experience with making ghanaian drums sound better. if you've got some experience in woodwork, have a go at filing/sanding down the bearing edge so it's level and curves a bit on the outside. when it's as rough as yours looks, many people start by turning the drum upside down over a level cement surface and turning it to grind it to a roughly level surface, then finish off with a file and three different grades of sandpaper. once the bearing edge is perfect, add a layer of superglue to make the edge shiny so the skin easily slips over it, avoiding too much friction on the skin and providing a more gradual/even tension. once the edge is ready, get the person who offered to rehead the drum to teach you how to do it (you may have to pay a little extra, but it's difficult for most people the first time around - the best way to learn is by doing it under supervision of an experienced drum builder.

as for the mali weave, instead of going over two and back under two, you need to only go back under one, and over the second, then back under the same two. do a search for 'mali weave' on this site if you're unsure. another important thing is the rows of mali weave shouldn't be more than about an inch apart. that way you can do a few rows if you have to. if the verticals are pulled adequately beforehand, you should only need one row, but as the drum settles and gets exposed to the elements, you may need 2 or 3 rows.