Best Djembe And Recommended Brands (2018 Buyers Guide)

​Congrat​s, you've decided to buy a ​d​rum. ​Double congrat​s, you've found ​a ​crash course ​on ​how to buy the best djembe. ​ ​​

You'll discover:

  • ​what to look for ​in a good drum
  • check
    ​types​, brands and sizes
  • ​10 great drums and where to get them
  • check
    ​favorite djembes under $​50​, $​100 and $400
  • check
    ​​best budget djembes
  • check
    ​​what not to buy
Close up of a djembe

​What To Look For In A Djembe

Width

Width is the most common measurement ​for a djembe.

It ​indicates the diameter across the top of the drum.

When you see someone selling a 12" djembe, they're usually talking about the width.

Djembe width

The most popular djembe sizes are from 10" - 14"

How big should my drum be?

Your drum should suit your physical size. ​If your drum is too big for you it will be difficult to maneuver. Too small and it will be difficult to play.

​This char​t shows what size ​should suit you based on your ​height or age:

​Recommended Djembe Width

​Recommended for

​8" & 9"

​Kids aged ​4-​​7, height under ​4',

​10"

​​Kids aged ​7-10, Height 5'0" - 5​'5"​, ​

​11​"

​Small Adult 5'​4" - 5'8", kids aged 10-16

​12"

​Medium Adult​ 5'​8" - 6'

​13"

​​​Large Adult​ 6' - 6'2"

​14"

​XL Adult over 6'2"

Average Dimensions

​Height

​55-65cm (22-25 inches)​

​Weight​ - Full size wood djembe

​20-26 lbs (9-12 kgs)​

Weight - Fiberglass djembes

​9-18 lbs (4-8kg)

Playing Area

As a guideline, you should be able to place one hand comfortably inside the face of the drum.

Your hand should fit without enough room so that it is not touching the edges of the drum.

Djembe size - hand on drum

​Types of Djembe

There are 2 main types​:

Small djembe icon wood

​WOOD

​1. W​​ood Djembes

These are the most common - the classic djembe look.

As the name suggests, the shell is hand-made from one piece of solid wood. The drum skin is​ either synthetic or goat skin and the tuning is done with rope.

They are usually a natural wood color and sometimes have carvings around the foot of the shell.

​Pros:

  • ​​Quality wood ​provides ​good resonance
  • ​Sturdy

Cons:

  • ​Heavy
  • Tuning ​and changing skins is difficult
  • Quality can vary widely​
Wood and rope djembe
Fiberglass djembe icon

​​MODERN

​​2. M​odern Djembes

These ​are ​usually machine-made by brand name drum companies such as Pearl or Remo.

The​ shell is made using composite materials and ​is molded to particular sizes and shapes.

​The drum is tightened mechanically using a key​ and the skin is usually synthetic.

​Pros:

  • Quality is standardized across a range of​ shells and skins
  • Light, durable
  • Eas​ier to play
  • ​Easier to tune
  • Environmentally friendly

Cons:

  • ​More expensive
A fiberglass djembe

What Type Should I Get?

​Consider what you​ want to use the drum for.

  • If you want to play the drum in a traditional African drum circle setting, you might want to get a wood djembe. The look​, feel and sound of the drum would ​suit the setting.
  • ​Or, ​for less traditional settings, such as playing in a band or informal drum circles, ​​get a fiberglass djembe. They're ​contemporary, light and easy to tune.

Some drums may be a combination of the two. They may have fiberglass shells and rope tuning.

​Buying A Djembe Online

We recommend you buy​ your djembe online, and from a reputable dealer. ​Here's why:

  1. ​​​Better choice and value for money ​than your local music store​
  2. More reliable than Craiglist ​or EBay​.
  3. ​Several ​​trustworthy manufacturers and ​​brands online.

All the sellers we recommend have good track records and ​quality products in their price range.

Make sure the seller has good communication, good reviews and a returns policy. Expect to pay shipping for returns​.

Remember, you get what you pay for

​Double-check the drum's specifications before you buy.

W​hat Not To ​Buy

Avoid curio shop djembes. These are the very small djembes that you could easily fit in a backpack. ​Anything under ​​​​7" across the face​ is not really an instrument​, it's more of an ornament.

They are​ ​cute but ​are just too small to be realistically playable​​. They will end up ​in the back of ​your cupboard.

When buying online, ​don't mistake ​a curio drum for a ​full size drum. It can be difficult to judge the drums size from a photo.

Sneaky Trick Alert

Some naughty sellers will advertise​ these curio drums as a 12" djembe​ by quoting the height, not the width. The width w​ould be much less, ​around 6".

​Don't worry, ​none of the drums ​we review is a curio​ drum.

A Curio Shop Djembe

A Curio Shop Djembe

Which Is The Best ​Brand of Djembe?

Wood djembes

​African made djembes don't usually have a brand name.​ They have been imported from Africa and come from many small manufacturers.

The key to finding a good one is a trustworthy supplier who has vetted and priced the drums accordingly. A few sellers to look out for are Drumskull and Djembe Direct.

Several brand name manufacturers also make wood djembes. These are usually ​machine carved with a lathe and then  hand-finished. Names to look out for are Meinl and Toca.

Fiberglass djembes

There are several well-known producers of high quality fiberglass djembes.

Drum companies such as​ Remo have been producing them for decades. A few other names to look out for are LP, Meinl and X8.

Each brand has different features, pros and cons and prices. Finding the best djembe brand is therefore a matter of preference.


​T​he Reviews


​Here are our top picks - our favorite wood and fiberglass models ​for every type of player, followed by the best djembe under $​50, $​100 and $​250.

1. Remo Mondo Earth Series

​Winner - Overall Best ​Djembe​!

Remo Mondo Earth Series Djembe 12"

$250.00

​Make sure you choose the right ​size and style options on the product page.

​Avail sizes

​10" - women

12" - men

14" - XL men

​​Modern

Fiberglass djembe icon

​​​​Key Tuned,

Synthetic Skin


​$$

​This ​is a ​stunning modern drum. It is the only d​jembe ​that gets 5 stars from us. It has ​great sound, a classy, understated look ​and is incredibly ​​versatile.

It is available in sizes 10", 12" and 14".

​Here's a demo of the different sizes:

Remo have a ​long history of producing professional drums and drum skins.

​This drum would be a good choice for ​intermediate ​players and up - although beginners who can afford it ​w​ill love it too!

It's simple and comes tuned out of the box. ​

​The drum head is Remo's signature Skyndeep Fiberskyn ​and the shell is made of their Acousticon composite material. All you need to know is that the basses are deep and the highs are crisp and clear. ​It could be used as a soloist drum.

It has a protective rubber foot and is finished in a natural brown. ​It has 8 tuning lugs. Tuning this drum is MUCH easier than a wood drum.

​My only criticism would be that it does not come with a strap. ​I suppose that gives me a chance to find a nice one.

2. Meinl Nile Series Headliner 8", 10", 12"

​Best Wood Djembe​

Meinl Nile Series Headline 12" Djembe

$148.99

​​​Click the link above ​to compare size​s and prices.

​Avail sizes

8",10",​12"

​Wood​

Small djembe icon wood

Height

​24"

​​Rope Tuned​/ Goat Skin

​This is a fantastic ​work horse of a drum. ​It is available in sizes 8", 10" and 12"​.

It's simple and comes tuned out of the box. It would probably not suit an advanced or solo player.

The shell is a solid piece of mahogany and ​has a pleasing rich brown color and hand carved ​grooves.

It is a strong, solid drum and weighs in at 16 lbs - not too heavy for a full sized drum. It comes with ​a rope handle and instructions for tuning, if need​ed.

Make sure you choose the right ​size and style options on the product page.


3. Meinl Earth Rhythm Series 10"

Best Djembe for Beginners

Width

​​​1​0"

​Wood​

Small djembe icon wood

Height

​​20"

​​Rope Tuned​

Beginners might want to look at getting a djembe in the mid-cheap price range in your particular size. It will still be of a reasonable quality and won't break the bank while you're still learning. ​That's why we recommend th​e Meinl Earth Rhythm Series.

This is a beautiful wood drum​. We like that it is hand carved, has clean understated decorations and comes with a bag. 

The shell is plantation grown Mahogany, hand carved, with decorations meant to represent 'ploughed fields and stalks of grain'. ​This is where the 'Earth Rhythm' name comes from. Ooh.

​It is topped with hand chosen goatskin and 4mm pre-stretched nylon.

​We like that it comes with a​​ heavy duty nylon djembe bag​ ​with a side pocket and super-sturdy zippers. 

It is ​slightly more expensive​, although it is a ​fantastic choice of drum. The bag is worth ​$​60​ alone.

​4. Heartwood Project Series 10", 11", 13"

​Best ​African Djembe​

Avail​ sizes

​10"​, 11", 13"

​Wood​

Small djembe icon wood

Height

​24"

​​Rope Tuned​/ Goat Skin

​This handcarved drum from Africa ​​would also make a great gift.

​​It is available in sizes 10", 11" and 13".

The drum has been imported into the US and is then inspected and fine-tuned​. ​This extra layer of quality control​ means you can be sure of getting a decent drum from Africa.

We also like that buying this drum supports the village artisans in Africa who make them.

This is a fantastic drum for beginners​ and intermediate players and comes tuned and ready to go out of the box. The shell ​is solid hardwood​ and the skin is West African goat​. The sound is surprisingly good.

It would probably not suit an advanced or solo player.

It is a ​light drum and weighs in at ​under 10 lbs​.​

​5. Meinl Black River Series 8"

​Best ​Djembe​ Under $​50

Width

​​​​8"

​Wood​

Small djembe icon wood

Height

​15.75"

​​Rope Tuned​/ Goat Skin

​This also doubles as our Best Travelling Djembe, because it is very small. ​We would not recommend this as your main drum.

​The Meinl Black River Series is a great choice for kids under 8 or as a quick and easy ​drum to ​go anywhere with. 

It is made of one piece mahogany​. The black ​finish and hand carved ridges make it unique. We're told this represents ripples in the river.

It ​features goat skin head and ​pre-stretched rope.

​At ​only 4lbs it is extremely light and easy to carry. ​It has a handle included, which doubles as additional rope for tuning.



​6. Deep Carved Djembe Elephant 10"-11"

​Best ​Djembe​ Under $100

Width

​​​10"-11"

​Wood​

Small djembe icon wood

Height

​​20"

​​Rope Tuned​/ Goat Skin

This smoky-looking ​drum is a ​fantastic choice if you like a djembe with personality.

It is made of one piece mahogany, which is dried and oiled up to 20 times.

We love the elephant design too. The deep carving usually means the shell is nice and thick - a good thing.

It ​features goat skin head and 5mm non stretch rope.

​At 8 lbs it is light and easy to carry. ​It has a handle included, which doubles as additional rope for tuning.

Affordable



​7. ​Hand Carved Ivory Coast Djembe 13"

​Best ​Djembe​ Under $​400

Width

​​​​13"

​Wood​

Small djembe icon wood

Height

​​2​4"

​​Rope Tuned​/ Goat Skin

15.​​7 lbs

​This is a professional grade djembe ​we believe will exceed your expectations. It would suit adults ​around 6'.

​It is a simple, neat design, typical of drums from Ivory Coast. The construction is solid and symmetrical, and it sounds like a dream.

It weighs in at 15.7 lbs which is ​about average for drums of its size. 

​Listen to two of these drums in action:

​We like:

  • Tonally a very clear drum​, crisp highs
  • ​Deep bass resonance that only large wood drums can give
  • Excellent professional level drum

What we don't like:

  • ​Personal choice, but they could have added rubber protection to the foot

​8. Remo Mondo Infinity Series 14"

Best Large Modern Djembe

Width

​​​1​4"

​​Modern

Fiberglass djembe icon

Height

​​2​5"

​Key Tuned​/ ​Synthetic Skin

The Remo Infinity Mondo Series djembe is perfect modern option for those who like a larger drum.
  • The deep bass on this drum would make it a fantastic accompaniment to a solo djembe
  • The red wood grain finish makes this a great looking drum
  • Tuning lugs have ​contour covers - comfortable to hold
  • ​Remo skins ​are not animal but have a life-like​ animal look​.

​It is ​in the higher price range, but is well worth it.

​9. Remo Festival Series 10"

​Best ​Djembe​ for Kids​

Width

​​​10"

​Modern

Fiberglass djembe icon

Height

​​20"

​​​Non-tunable

The Remo Festival 10" is very portable and a ​good low maintenance choice for a small ​​modern djembe​​​​. Perfect for kids aged 10-16.

As the name suggests, it is a great travelling drum. It is very light and easy to move around with​ and a strap is included. The sides of the drum are smooth and there is no rope or tuning pegs.

The drum is not tunable, meaning there is no way to tighten it. That said, it features Remo's signature Skyndeep drum skin, which shouldn't need tuning and will last for many years if well cared for.

​10. Toca Origins Series 10"

Best ​​Wood Djembe​​ For Kids

​Size

​10"

​Wood

Small djembe icon wood

Height

​20"

​​Rope Tuned, Goat Skin

This is our best choice for a ​small wood djembe. It would suit a child from ​​10-1​4 or an adult under ​5'.

Toca are a well known producer of affordable percussion instruments.

This drum weighs in at 5.5 ​lbs (2.5 kg) and is 16" tall. Carved from a single piece of mahogany, it has grooves inside which eliminate overtones, giving this drum a well rounded sound.

It has a Celtic knot carving, which is clean and neat. It's also light, with a shipping weight of under 7 lbs (3.1 kg).

It is good for traveling - probably also good as a second drum or muckabout djembe. 

Toca are also environmentally friendly. They use only plantation grown wood that's treated and dried in buildings using solar technology.

​In Conclusion

Finding the right instrument is about knowing the ​features and options available and then matching them to your preferences. ​Buy from the right shop and check the product description carefully.

Do it the right way and you'll have a drum for life.

We hope this has helped you to find the ​best djembe​ possible. We hope it arrives soon and you love it forever.

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