Djembe Buying Guide

Drum shells from West Africa are hand-carved.  Size, shape and type of wood all affect the range of sound.  Dense grain, medium to heavy wooden shells generally have the best tone.

Mali tend to have a rounded bowl with a slight taper to base
  • Lengue (Linge/Linke), Dugara, Dialla (Djala), Acacia, and Genou wood
  • Guinea have a straighter more tapered bowl
  • Acajou (Bois Rouge), Lengue, and Khadi/Haré (Balafon) wood
  • Ivory Coast have an elongated bowl; wider throat and usually a notch for bottom ring
  • Iroko wood
  • Senegal has longer bowl and big-flared base
  • Dembe/Demba (African Teak) wood
  • Buying tips:
    Rope (ideally double-braided polyester):
  • 3/16" (4mm-5mm) diameter with a core; never flat (non-core) or nylon rope
  • Height (drumhead should be lower than elbow when sitting in a normal chair):
  • 23"-25" tall
  • Head (measure of the playing surface, not the ring):
  • 12" - 14" diameter goatskin or cowhide
  • Bearing edge (where your hand meets the playing surface):
  • smooth and rounded over for playing comfort