How to choose a Djembe drum?

Choosing a quality Djembe drum can be a difficult task for new drummers. Djembe drums are one of the most popular African drums and have been played for centuries in the West African region. The Djembe drum is a goblet-shaped hand drum that is traditionally played with bare hands. It is important to consider a few factors when choosing a Djembe drum to ensure that you get the best sound and playability. 

Djembe drum wood

The first factor to consider when choosing a Djembe drum is the type of wood used to make it. Djembe drums are traditionally made out of a hardwood such as mahogany, oak, or beech. The type of wood used will affect the sound of the drum and its overall durability. You should look for a drum that is made out of a quality wood, let’s discuss some of these different types of wood below.

Lengue Wood

Lengue wood is the "Cadillac" of djembe woods. This increasingly rare wood offers superior projection, and good bass tone slap contrast with a long sustain. Its medium heavy shell promises good overall sound, consistency, and durability. This djembe is perfect for professional drummers and enthusiasts alike.

Acajou Wood

Experience the beauty of Acajou Wood (Bois Rouge), one of the prized "redwoods" from the Guinea-Mali region. This wood is often difficult to distinguish from other redwoods, but it is generally lighter in colour with more orange and light patches. Acajou wood djembe promises great overall sound, consistency, and durability.

Djalla Wood 

The Djalla wood djembe is known for its dark red and purple hues and fewer light patches, distinguishing it from other redwoods. Experience the beauty and quality of Djalla Wood for yourself.

Balafon Wood 

Balafon wood provides djembes with a unique sound, in fact these drums are made from the same melodic wood used to make balafons in Guinea. This wood is known for its tight pores and high density, making it the loudest of all the woods. While it may sometimes have a "ringy" quality, a thick skin provides the perfect balance.

Iroko wood

Iroko wood is known for its open pores that give it a warm sound that is well-suited for carrying. While lightweight Iroko drums can be found, they may require a wait time of up to six months.

Djembe drum size

Djembe drums come in a variety of sizes, from small handheld drums to large drums that can be played with two hands. The size of the drum will determine the sound and the volume of the drum. Smaller drums are typically louder and higher-pitched than larger drums. Our Pura drums from Indonesia come in three different sizes: 20cm, 30cm, and 40cm whereas our largest African djembe drum from Ghana is approximately 60cm and is hand crafted from a solid hand carved cedar wood frame with an unbleached goatskin head and tough stringing.

Djembe drum skin

Djembe drums are traditionally made with goatskin or cowhide. The type of skin used will affect the sound and the durability of the drum. Goatskin is typically used for higher-pitched tones while cowhide is used for lower-pitched tones. 

Djembe craftsmanship

Djembe drums are typically handmade and the level of craftsmanship will affect the sound and playability of the drum. Look for a drum that has been made with precision and care. 

It is important to consider a few factors when choosing a Djembe drum. Pay attention to the type of wood, the size of the drum, the type of skin, and the craftsmanship of the drum to ensure that you get the best sound and playability. Djembe drums are a great way to explore African drumming and can provide years of enjoyment.

Tips for buying a used djembe drum

A great djembe should meet specific requirements such as the 3/16" (4mm-5mm) round and unfrazzled rope, 22.5" to 25" tall, and 22-28 loops on the top and bottom rings. The drum should have a slightly round bearing edge and look symmetrical. Additionally, the rings should be snug against the shell without choking the skin.

The interior should be hand-carved with roughness, and the drum should have a medium to heavy weight with medium to thick skin. The head diameter should measure 12" - 13.5", and the rings should be wrapped with cloth. Lastly, buyers should look for open cracks in the wood, ensure skins are free of holes and bug bites, and that the rings are not bent, rusted or broken.

Where to buy a djembe drum?

With so many options available on the market, it's important to know what to look for and where to buy from. Here are some tips to help you find the right Djembe drum for your needs: If you want to purchase a high quality professional drum you should look for authentic Djembes made of traditional West African wood and goatskin. For a budget beginner djembe, you can opt for an Indonesian drum that will produce a great tone but be smaller in size. We have a selection of world djembe drums available but if you want to try one out in person before you buy, we would recommend visiting a music store.

Up next: What is Shumanism?


Featured products

handcrafted antares panpipes from Peru
Antares Bamboo Pan Pipes
Sale price$20.00
quena andean flute with colourful case
Quena Andean Flute
Sale price$78.00
coconut thumb piano kalimba
Kuta Thumb Piano Kalimba (7 note)
Sale priceFrom $20.00