djembe zoom

Advice and questions on making and fixing instruments
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By musicman44
#37771
Greetings and blessings friends,

I have recently re-skinned a djembe and it is not able to hold a pitch after each pull. I live in the American Southwest so I allowed the skin to set and dry for two and a half days before making the first pull. It has held pitch while I tighten up the skin, but overnight it loses the pitch while the ropes remain tight.

I'm wondering if the head just needs time to set before it is able to finally hold a pitch. Any ideas?

Thank you all for your help, I've been reading up in the forums and such a wealth of knowledge here.
User avatar
By michi
#37775
The skin might still be stretching (as might the rope). Or the skin could be slipping between the flesh ring and crown ring. Try gradually tuning some more and see whether it stabilises.

Michi.
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By musicman44
#37789
Thanks folks. Got pics attached of opposite sides of the skin. The space between the rings looks good and I succeeded in pulling all the creases and slack in the skin while it was still wet. One side has dropped slightly more than the other but not more than 1 cm or so. A couple other details I should mention: the rope has some exterior frays but no interior tears and the lower ring at the mid section is slightly off center. I restrung the rope three times trying to center that ring and finally just decided to just leave it be. Thanks for the feedback!
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User avatar
By djembefeeling
#37795
Now we can talk. This looks like an old style Senegalese djembe. The rope definitely needs to be replaced with the next skin. Apart from its frays I dont like that kind of rope very much. A rope with a kernel and a coat. They tend to twist against each other so that one ends up being shorter than the other and the complete pull is on just one of the two.

The ring at the bearing edge doesn't look that good either. It has like 20 knots only? And lots of rather loose layers of fabric. There is just too few pressure points to prevent the skin from slipping, especially when the rings are not tight with the wood. Those rings also seem to be bent.

So, I go with Michi and say skin slip is your problem number one. Additionally, the rope may loose tension too.
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By musicman44
#37797
Thanks for the insight djembefeeling. Based on your points, it sounds like the next time I do a re-skinning I should do a replacement of the ropes and possibly the rings as well. Sounds reasonable? What rope recommendations does anyone have? As far as rings go, any recommendations on where to get these?

After a couple more tune ups, it's been able to hold a tone but not as clean or tight as my other two djembes that sound like they should. To be honest I'm okay with just trying to get this drum to sound as good as I can get it to be; doesn't have to be perfect.

Thanks!
#37798
musicman44 wrote:possibly the rings as well
no, that's probably not necessary. they probably need to be shortened and straightened out with a hammer on a solid ground.
musicman44 wrote:To be honest I'm okay with just trying to get this drum to sound as good as I can get it to be; doesn't have to be perfect.
Then just keep tuning until the skin either holds the tune or slips completely.
By the kid
#37800
The method of putting the skin on should be worked on too. To my eye the ropes don't look tight at all. How are you tightening them. Are you using a dowel or a pulling bar. Are you using vicegrips to hold the tension as you tune? Did you tighten skin around the ring before you mounted it? If not you should be doing this. If you don't know check for old threads here or go and get Michi's book on how to skin up a djembe if you have an ipad.

Those african ropes as have been stated are not of good quality. It is easy to break them when a lot of tension is put on them. You could simply take them off and get some 5mm climbing rope and thread that into the existing mounting and go ahead and tune it up and put more effort into the tune and crank the ropes tight.

I guess before that you might as well just try to tune the existing ropes as tight as you can. You can tap down the rings with a mallet as you tune or to tune it up. Obviously this can ruin the whole job if you hit the skin with the mallet. There are safe ways to do it like using something between the mallet and the rings like a thick dowel or a board.
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By musicman44
#37802
To my eye the ropes don't look tight at all. How are you tightening them. Are you using a dowel or a pulling bar. Are you using vicegrips to hold the tension as you tune? Did you tighten skin around the ring before you mounted it?
All of the above methods are being used. Sounds like the rope is just not the right quality. When I mounted the skin before tightening, I was able to get some very low dull tone out of it. I'm assuming that is what is meant by tightening the skin before mounting it. If not please elaborate.
You could simply take them off and get some 5mm climbing rope and thread that into the existing mounting and go ahead and tune it up and put more effort into the tune and crank the ropes tight.
Can this be done after the head has already been tightened?

Thanks!
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By michi
#37803
the kid wrote:If you don't know check for old threads here or go and get Michi's book on how to skin up a djembe if you have an ipad.
Or an iPhone or any Mac. iBooks runs on all recent Apple devices now.

Michi.
By the kid
#37804
I'm assuming that is what is meant by tightening the skin before mounting it. If not please elaborate.
Basically you tighten the skin around the ring before putting it on the drum. You cut holes into the skin all around the edges , put a rope through the holes and tighten it so the ring is wrapped in the skin . The you sit this on the drum and put top ring over it and lace up drum.

It is simple enough but obviously more complicated than i have explained here. Find a thread with it or go buy the book. lol. For me the search function here isn't the best. Maybe someone knows if a thread has an explanation of this process. Things can always go wrong too if you are doing it first time. You don't want it too tight etc. You want to mark the spine and know where this goes relative to the shape of the drum if not perfectly circle.
You could simply take them off and get some 5mm climbing rope and thread that into the existing mounting and go ahead and tune it up and put more effort into the tune and crank the ropes tight.


Can this be done after the head has already been tightened?
Yea. The rope on your crown ring isn't perfect but I haven't ever seen that rope break like the white and black spec rope.

Basically the head is somewhat set once it is dry. So you can loosen the ropes and replace them. It is just an option. The problem with them breaking later on when more tension is applied is you can warp the rings.

I don't know how many drums you've done but the amount of tension you can put into a drum is huge. The lower quality ropes simply can't take it.
By the kid
#37805
Just checking the photos you can see the fluffy patches in the ropes where the outer sheath is ruffed and the center is coming out. This are weak points. That's where it breaks if you apply enough tension. These ropes are like recycled material woven inside the outer sheath. Patchy and weak in places.
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By boromir76
#37819
Judging from the photos, it looks like:
1. The skin has been probably trimmed before it has been dried and tuned. Don't cut the edges before the skin dries, as it will result in very uneven edge line. Cut the final skin edge when it is completely dry and also at least moderately tuned. This way you get nice, straight and leveled skin edge and also some more skin slack beforehand, in the case the skin slips a bit during the tuning.

2. I hope I am wrong about this, but it also looks like there is litlle skin slippage in some areas: the edges of the skin in some areas are suspiciously closer to the upper ring than in others... Sometimes slight slippage can ocure during tuning, but the djembe can still be tuned without major issues.

I would try to tune it up slowly to the playing level. The skin stretches very much in the beginning, it can take up to a few weeks before it is tuned and stops stretching. Be careful with possible slippage as it can ripp the skin if the skin edge slides between the rings.
By korman
#37820
the kid wrote:You could simply take them off and get some 5mm climbing rope and thread that into the existing mounting
If you must buy rope in an outdoors/climbing shop, be extra careful to buy static rope! Most ropes in those shops are dynamic (designed to stretch under stress). Sailing rope is a good choice, too.