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 a longer bowl and big-flared base.

  • Dembe/Demba (African Teak) wood

See for more about djembe woods.

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

Fix Up Your Drum!

These drums were reheaded and refurbished by drumsticktony. Check out our drum tuning & reheading services.

Mali-style djembe

Guinea-style djembe

Guinea "old style" djembe made of lengue

Guinea "old style" djembe made of lengue, skin over

Iroko djembe from Ivory Coast with thin cowhide & Susu braid

Iroko djembe from Ivory Coast

Iroko djembe from Ivory Coast

Senegal-style djembe