Advice and questions on keeping your instruments in top form
By bugeye
Hello forum,

What a great resource! First time posting here after spending a couple of days reading interesting exchanges.

I come with a question to which I think I already know the answer but looking for confirmation from the experts.

I got a new large size djembe as a gift recently. It looks very well made generally compared to some of the djembes I had a chance to play in my drum class and at various circles.

After three days of practicing I am not too happy with the slaps, and feel they don't sound much different from the tones. Technique is a factor, I am still a novice, however many of the djembes I've played had a distinct slap.

After doing some research on line, I believe that breakin in might change things slightly, but not significantly as far as the slaps / tone distinction goes.

So I am facing a couple of choices... try to exchange the djembe for another one, or look to reskin it using a different type of skin (not sure what's on it now).

Option 1 is limited, the store where it was purchased has other djembes but I think they're all likely from the same source. And I just love the design / carving, so unique.

Option 2 is added cost, and I will need to rely on the advice of a professional repairer to select a skin type to get as close to the sounds I am looking.

I have a limited budget.. what to do?

Would tuning help?
Would letting things settle in place longer help?

Thanks in advance!

The skin tension is a determinant factor. If You tighten the skin the slaps will be easier to obtain and clearer, but if You go too far in that direction, the tones will end by losing their roundness (the bass sound will deteriorate too).
But of course, technique is THE factor for the slap/tone distinction, in my opinion.
User avatar
By boromir76
Would it be possible those other djembes were significantly smaller than this one and therefore they were "easier" to play? Larger djembes (cca. over 14' diameter) generaly are more demanding for achieving distinct slaps and tones and need more tension and effort when being tuned... Try to properly tune it first. As JSB suggested; not to tight and not to loose. This can be a challenge sometimes, especialy for novice. No matter the quality, it is almost impossible to judge any djembe sound properties whithout good tuning.
Last edited by boromir76 on Fri Jun 12, 2015 9:25 am, edited 2 times in total.
By bugeye
Thanks guys for the advice. I will look into getting someone to help me with tuning and report back. Fingers crossed that it works :D

@boromir, yes agree, a few of the smaller djembes in class were easier to produce nice sounding slaps on. I did notice that the larger ones produced a less pronounced slap, but they sounded distinct from tones and much better than on my new drum.
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By michi
Get your teacher to play your drum and provide an opinion. Almost always, the problem is not the drum, but technique. The masters can make great tones and slaps on a bucket…