countries are home of experienced carvers, who whittle the
out of a tree trunk by hand.
Different types of tropical
used, depending on what's available in the different regions. These
woods contribute to the quality of the characteristic traditional
Authentic African djembes
The shells are mounted with African goat
skin. Goats in these countries are of a taller and
sturdier nature than elsewhere and their skins have ideal sound
Sometimes, just the shells and hides are imported and then mounted in
Europe or North America with a rope of higher quality than those
available in Africa.
These authentic djembe drums can be rather expensive,
but are a must if
you are serious about making traditional African music. They are ideal
advanced players or ambitious
If well crafted these drums have the potential for
are famous for their decorative
designs, which are often copied by manufacturers in Asia.
Authentic Ghana djembes
Just like above instruments, they are completely hand-made of natural
materials. But these are cheaper and
generally less heavy to carry,
because they are not made of hardwoods.
Tweneboa (used for most Ghana djembes) is a softer wood.
However, as a
beginner or hobby drummer you are unlikely to notice a big difference
in the sound. Owners of Ghana djembes usually love their roaring
Ghana djembes make great instruments for:
drum circles, beginners and hobby players, schools, team
events, ensembles with other instruments etc.
should you choose?
Among fans, you'll often hear disputes about the
and djembe history,
and therefore about which country the best
ones come from.
Fact is, that even the best
materials and craftsmanship don't guarantee the "best"
sound. Each of
these countries produces "good" and
"bad" drums. That's just in the nature of hand work: A craftsman
doesn't know how a drum will sound until it's finished. Every
So don't get lost
in the opinions.
Compare several drums and pick the one that gets you hooked. Your
choice is a matter of your own preference, ambitions and
Modern Western Versions
In recent years, Western companies have tapped into the
growing enthusiasm for djembe drumming. Inspired by
the African instrument,
they produce modern versions of it:
Remo Djembe Drums
Remo djembe drums
is a manufacturer of percussion instruments in Valencia
(CA), USA and has a type of djembe for sale that is ideal for
The Remo key tuned djembe is great for those who don't want to bother
with the traditional rope system.
very lightweight and
fiber glass shells and hides of these drums are weather proof: You can
play djembe outdoors without having to worry about possible
Meinl Djembe Drums
Meinl djembe drums
Meinl is a German manufacturer with subsidiaries in the USA.
Meinl djembe is a more classical version of a key-tuned djembe: It is
made of rubber wood and goat skin.
Some fiberglass shells are available as well.
Do not confuse Meinl's rope-tuned instruments as African. Although they
of the typical Ghana designs, they were certainly not produced there.
Is it for you?
If you are interested in African
then ignore these
drums. Apart from the shape and the name, they
have nothing in common
with the African instrument and are far removed from its culture and
may be good instruments, but they shouldn't be called "djembe" because
that's not what they are, nor do they sound like it.
For traditional African music only traditional instruments will do.
However, if all you want is have some fun in a drum circle or make
Western music, getting one of these is certainly an option.
Be aware that lots of djembes found today are made in
Indonesia or other Asian countries. Instead of at least adding some
value, they mostly just produce copies of Ghanaian styles.
these shells are machine-carved, they are easy to recognize.
Western brands and retailers sell those drums, sometimes even
labeling them "African" or "Pro
Africa". That clearly misleads the customer. Never forget
a seller where his drums were made.
Exploiting African culture is not only unethical but
terrible consequences on the continent: Many African products have
suffered from cheap Asian imitations. Whole industries have been
destroyed and hundreds of thousands of jobs
Conclusion & Further Info
Personally, I prefer to see African families benefit from their
culture, rather than the big brands and imitators. But no
you decide, I hope you'll find an instrument that you'll love
play for a long time!