How to Buy a Djembe for an Experienced Player

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So you want to buy a djembe for that special drummer in your life? Here are some do’s and don’ts, so you see a happy face when they open it, rather than that cringy ‘pretend-to-like it’ face.

Choosing the Perfect Djembe Drum for an Experienced Player

Buy a drum for someone who already knows how to drum is tricky. Especially if you don’t play drums yourself. Chances are, they already have preferences. So there are a few things you can do to get it right. Make sure you consider these factors to ensure the gift resonates in more ways than one.

1. Handcrafted Quality Is Almost Always Better

One wonderful trick for choosing a djembe is to opt for a handcrafted drum. These drums have been made by artisans, rather than by a machine, and have a soulful resonance and character that machine-made counterparts simply can’t replicate. Each drum is a unique piece of artistry, reflecting the craftsmanship of its maker and the traditions of its origin.

2. Wood Selection

The choice of wood significantly influences the tone and character of a djembe. While softer woods may suffice for beginner drums, experienced players gravitate towards hardwoods like lenke, iroko, or balafon wood for their rich sound. These woods produce a deep, resonant bass and crisp, clear highs that elevate the drumming experience to new heights.

3. Size Matters

Djembe drums come in various sizes, each offering its own tonal palette and playing experience. For an experienced player, a drum with a larger head diameter and taller body may provide the depth and projection they crave. Typically, a 12-14 inch diameter with a height of 20-24 inches offers a comfortable playing surface and ample room for dynamic expression.

4. Rope and Tuning

The intricate rope tuning system of a djembe is not just functional but also adds to its aesthetic appeal. Quality djembes boast a higher number of knots, ensuring stability and longevity in tuning. Inspect the rope’s weave and quality, as well as the consistency of the tensioning, for a drum that stays in tune through countless sessions.

Woman smiling and playing djembe

5. Head Material

Traditionally, djembe heads are made from goatskin, prized for its organic warmth and responsiveness. Some players may prefer bleached heads for their brighter tone, others swear by natural, shaved skins for their authenticity and depth. Avoid synthetic heads, as they often lack the nuanced tonal qualities of natural materials.

Where do I Start?

You could have a look at our page on the Best Djembes we recommend. That will give you a good idea of what’s out there. You can also look at the djembe sections of large music stores for current prices. But before you buy anything, read the next paragraph!

When looking to purchase a high-quality djembe, here are four reputable retailers you might consider:

  1. Wula Drum (
    • Wula Drum is known for its handcrafted, high-quality djembes made from traditional African hardwoods. They offer a range of drums suitable for both beginners and experienced players, with a focus on authentic craftsmanship.
  2. X8 Drums (
    • X8 Drums provide a wide selection of djembes, including both beginner-friendly options and professional-grade instruments. They offer detailed descriptions and videos to help you choose the right drum.
  3. Drumskulldrums (
    • Drumskulldrums specialize in African hand drums, including djembes made from various types of hardwoods. They focus on quality and authenticity, ensuring that each drum meets high standards.
  4. Rhythm House Drums (
    • Rhythm House Drums offers a variety of hand drums, including djembes crafted by skilled artisans. They emphasize traditional methods and materials, providing instruments that deliver authentic sound and playability.

These retailers are known for their commitment to quality and authenticity, ensuring you find a djembe that meets the expectations of an experienced player.

Taking the Leap

While surprising your partner with a djembe drum for a gift is undoubtedly a heartfelt gesture, consider involving them in the selection process. Visiting a reputable drum shop or artisan’s workshop allows them to explore different drums, feel their resonance, and find the one that speaks to them on a personal level. In the long run, they will forget whether or not it was a surprise, but they’ll always remember the drum itself.

Love Your Drummer

In the realm of djembe drums, quality reigns supreme. Whether it’s the resonant thud of the bass, the crisp slap of the high tones, or the intricate carvings adorning its body, the perfect drum is a harmonious blend of craftsmanship and passion. So, as you embark on this musical journey, remember to listen not just with your ears but with your heart, for there lies the true rhythm of the djembe.

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