Home Music & Audio Best Djembe Drums [Buying Guide] in 2020

Best Djembe Drums [Buying Guide] in 2020

by Jonathan Logtenberg
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Meinl Percussion ADJ3-L+BAG African Style Rope Tuned 12-Inch Wood Djembe with Bag, Brown/Black
Djembe Drum African Bongo Drum Solid Wood & Hand Painted LARGE SIZE 16" - Jive Brand Professional Sound
X8 Drums Stallion Professional Djembe, Large
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Meinl Percussion ADJ3-L Djembe with Bag
Jive Large Djembe Drum
X8 Drums Stallion Professional Djembe
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Meinl Percussion ADJ3-L+BAG African Style Rope Tuned 12-Inch Wood Djembe with Bag, Brown/Black
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Meinl Percussion ADJ3-L Djembe with Bag
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Djembe Drum African Bongo Drum Solid Wood & Hand Painted LARGE SIZE 16" - Jive Brand Professional Sound
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Jive Large Djembe Drum
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X8 Drums Stallion Professional Djembe, Large
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X8 Drums Stallion Professional Djembe
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Science has confirmed that human life began in Africa. Since music is found in every culture, past and present, it is logical to conclude that music originated from Africa too. The continent still has a rich and diverse musical tradition. While Africans sing and dance most of the times, music is also used for several other things like rituals and religious ceremonies, as well as to pass down stories from generation to generation.

A truly diverse continent, African music tradition is super-rich. There is no limit to the genres of music played in the continent. There is also no limit to the number of musical instruments you will find in African. While most of the instruments are still not well-appreciated by the global music community, some have gained international recognition and are used globally. The Djembe drum is one of such globally accepted instruments with African origin.

What is a Djembe drum and why is it so important? Considering that percussion instruments are highly regarded in the music industry, it is understandable that the Djembe drum is one of the most popular instruments from Africa. Also called the djembe or jembe, the instrument is a rope-tuned skin-covered goblet drum played with bare hands. It is originally from West Africa. The name of the instrument, according to the Bambara people in Mali, comes from the saying, “Anke djé, anke bé”, which translate to “everyone gather together in peace”.

In its place of origin, the Djembe is traditionally played only by men. There are accompanying instruments played by women as part of an ensemble, such as the shekere. In the modern world, anyone can play the Djembe. It is a simple percussion instrument that can be played in any part of the world to add its rich West African flavor to any musical arrangement.

Are you interested in playing the djembe drum? Do you want to buy the best you can find? It is important that you read on carefully as buying any musical instrument is never easy, especially when the instrument is not one of the regular, electronic ones. For the Djembe drum, there are several important factors to consider and we will get to them in the latter part of this buying guide. At this point, we will review some of the best djembe drums on the market to help you get your hands on a valuable one.

Are you ready to shop for a djembe drum, here are the top three options to consider right now:

Top 3 Djembe Drums

1. Meinl Percussion ADJ3-L Djembe with Bag

FEATURES

This is a member of the Meinl Earth Rhythm Series Original African Rope Tuned Djembes. It is a high-quality instrument that is hand-carved and finished in an interesting manner. From the quality of the material used for the instrument to its sound quality, everything about this djembe drum is just right. It is also a versatile drum that can be played in all kinds of occasion. It is most suitable for experienced players though beginners and intermediate players will be able to play and enjoy it too. 

The Meinl Percussion ADJ3-L Djembe is made from solid Mahogany wood. The specie is known for its density and stability, which are important for such instruments as the djembe. The hand-carved mahogany is strong enough to last for years. The head of the instrument is made from hand-selected properly shaved goatskin. The traditional Mali-weave tuning system is employed for this instrument with pre-stretched HTP rope for a reliable tune and sound. 

This is a large drum that fits all occasions. The drum is about 24 inches tall and has a playing surface (drum head) that measures about 12 inches wide. Thanks to the quality of the materials, the instrument can achieve a variety of sounds from deep bass tones to high-pitched slaps. It will also produce a warm tone with plenty of dynamic range without unwanted overtones.

Asides from the incredible sound quality you will get from this instrument due to the materials used and method of production, the way the final product looks is another thing to be proud of. The Mahogany features an earthy design in black and brown that is aesthetically pleasing.

Another impressive thing about the Meinl Percussion ADJ3-L Djembe is the fact that it comes with a carry bag. The standard djembe drum bag is made from heavy-duty nylon. It features a thick carrying grip and padded shoulder strap. It will protect the instrument when you need to store it carefully. It also makes it easy to transport the drum comfortably when there is a need for that. 

PROS

  • This djembe drum is made from very strong and dependable material. The shell is from sold mahogany and the head from hand-selected goatskin. These materials help to ensure that the sound quality is great and the instrument can last for several years.
  • The quality head is tuned with a traditional Mali-weave system that guarantees pristine sound quality. The tuning ropes are pre-stretched too for maximum performance.
  • This is a versatile djembe drum that can be used for all kinds of occasions. It is a large size instrument that can be played by percussionists of all skills level in all sorts of occasions.
  • The Meinl Percussion ADJ3-L Djembe comes with a high-quality carrying bag which is an excellent choice for protecting the instrument when you need to transport it or during storage. 

CONS

  • Since it is a handcrafted instrument, the drum you will get can be a little different from whatever picture you have seen. The difference is never much and has no significant effect on the quality of the instrument.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

The Meinl Percussion ADJ3-L Djembe is one of the best djembe drums from a contemporary instrument manufacturer. It is made traditionally with a solid log of plantation grown mahogany. The head is made from hand-selected goatskin and it features the traditional Mali-weave tuning system with pre-stretched HTP rope. Due to the quality of the material and attention to detail during production, the instrument sounds great. It is also a very durable instrument. Another impressive about this djembe drum is the fact that it comes with a standard djembe bag that will let you store and transport your drum conveniently and safely. 

2. Jive Large Djembe Drum

FEATURES

If you need a good quality djembe drum but are constrained by your budget, this is the product to consider. Looking at the features of this instrument, the retail price is simply astonishing. Unlike most affordable djembe drum, this quality option from Jive is made from real wood and genuine goatskin, which is the major reason for the impressive sound quality. Just as the name implies, this is a large djembe drum.

The Jive Large Djembe Drumis handcrafted from a single piece of local hardwood. The wood is properly carved with serious attention to details to obtain the perfect shell. The shell is enhanced with a traditionally hand-painted design that makes it appealing. The head of the drum is made with genuine goatskin that is properly shaved. Due to the choice of material, this djembe produces quality sound that will be great for different kinds of occasions.

This djembe drum from Jive is 16 inches in height and has a playing surface of about 7.5. This makes it an easy instrument to play: percussionists of all skills level will find it easy to play. It is perfectly ideal for beginner players. It also features a carrying loop and heavy-duty cords for tuning and stabilization. Handling the instrument is easy when you are playing.

One of the most significant factors about the Jive Large Djembe Drum is the fact that it is an affordable instrument. It is the most affordable instrument on this list and one of the most valuable you will find anywhere. The price is really surprising for an original djembe drum made from wood and genuine goatskin. 

PROS

  • The Jive Large Djembe Drum is made from hardwood and genuine goatskin. The choice of materials is important for sound quality and is the major reason this instrument sound pretty good. 
  • In addition to the fact that this is a hand-carved instrument, it is hand-painted by Skilled Artisans. The process of carving and painted are carefully done so that each drum look unique in an attractive manner.
  • This djembe drum features a carrying loop and heavy-duty cords that help in tuning and stabilizing the instrument.
  • This is one of the most affordable djembe instruments on the market. It is hard to see drums of this quality sold at such an incredibly affordable price.

CONS

  • Though this instrument can produce good quality sound, it is not a premium djembe drum. A trained ear can often distinguish the sound from that of top-quality professional djembe drums.
  • Since it is handcrafted and hand-painted, the instrument you will get may not look exactly like the pictures you have seen.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

The Jive Large Djembe Drum can be considered a perfect entry-level instrument. Unlike others in its category, this is not a synthetic drum. It has a quality shell that is made from a single piece of local hardwood that is handcrafted and hand-painted. It also features a genuine goatskin head that will produce rich, vibrant, resonating sound. There are some other little impressive features such as the carrying loop and the heavy-duty cords for tuning and stabilization. The price of this instrument is the major attractive factor; it is an incredibly affordable instrument that anyone interested in djembe drums can easily afford.

3. X8 Drums Stallion Professional Djembe 

FEATURES

This is a premium djembe drum from one of the most recognized manufacturers of the instrument. It is considered a masterpiece by many in terms of design and sound quality. In addition to the good looks, this is also the sort of musical instrument that will last for several decades. A truly versatile instrument, it is the type of drum that will satisfy the needs of different percussionists.

The X8 Drums Stallion Professional Djembeis handcrafted from legally harvested/government inspected and certified Mahogany. The wood is known for its density and stability which are important for the sound quality expected from a quality instrument. There are lateral groove/rough-surfaced carvings on the interior bowl to reduce overtones from the instrument.

Coming to the head of this instrument, it is made from natural, unbleached goatskin. This genuine skin is important when you have a shell that is made with the best wood. It is completed with 35 sets of rope runners to make tuning easier and better. Looking at the natural materials used for this instrument, it is easy to tell that it is a quality instrument. The look is also appealing. It has a sleek black finish that complements its professional tonal range.

In the technical sense, the X8 Drums Stallion Professional Djembe is built to perfection. It has about 25.5 inches in height and the playing surface is about 13. 5 inches. It is a large drum that can be played by most percussionists. When properly tuned, this djembe sounds absolutely fantastic. The tone is warm, vibrant, and resonant with minimal or no overtones at all. 

As mentioned earlier, this is a durable djembe drum. It is made from the right materials and the method of construction is also top-notch. The only issue some will have with this instrument is the price. As a true premium musical instrument, the price is a little on the high side. This wouldn’t be a problem for the professional players who are the target market, by the way.

PROS

  • This is an original Pro African djembe drum that is made from an inspected and certified mahogany wood and natural, unbleached goatskin. It is also very comfortable to play with.
  • Due to the quality of the instrument and the way it is finished, the X8 Drums Stallion Professional Djembe is a good looking instrument. It is also a very durable instrument.
  • In terms of sound quality, there are few djembe drums you can compare to this one. It produces the sort of rich, vibrant tones you will expect from a professional musical instrument.
  • This High-quality djembe drum is also very versatile. Thanks to the amazing sound quality and the simple beautiful design, you can play this instrument on any stage at all.

CONS

This is an expensive djembe drum. It is not the kind of instrument you can are a beginner or conscious of your budget.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

The X8 Drums Stallion Professional Djembe is a premium instrument for the ardent percussionist. It is made from the best mahogany harvested sustainably. The head is made of natural, unbleached goat skin that combines well with the wood to deliver great sound. Due to the way it is finished, this djembe is good looking and durable too. It is also very comfortable to play with. By all standards, it is an incredible djembe that will make all the difference for a djembefola or someone hoping to go professional anytime soon.

What is the Djembe Drum Made of?

The djembe drum is made up of a hard shell, a playing surface/head, as well as ropes for tuning the instrument. The materials used for the shell and the head of the instrument are very important when it comes to the sound quality they will be able to deliver.

Traditionally, the shell of a djembe drum is carved from a single piece of African hardwood. The most priced djembe wood is called the lenke. These days, mahogany is the wood of choice when you want to make a top-quality djembe that will sound great. Other hardwoods can be used to carve the djembe such as djalla, dugura, gueni, gele, and iroko.

The drum head of the djembe is made with animal skin. Hand-selected goatskin that is properly and carefully shaved is the best choice for the instrument. When you have goblet-shaped mahogany that is topped with genuine goatskin, you have a quality djembe that will sound great. Other skins like antelope, cow, kangaroo, or horse can be used too. Quality pairs of ropes are also important just as good mounting systems.


What Was the Djembe Drum Used for?

The djembe drum has a very rich history behind it. In its earliest days, the instrument was played only by men of a certain caste. They were played during rituals and some other important traditional ceremonies and rites. They were also played by the musicians who are responsible for the oral history of the people. These musicians also belong to a special caste (the djeli caste that has survived till date).

In its original place of origin, the djembe drum is believed to have three spirits including the spirit of the tree it is made from, the spirit of the animal whose skin is used for the playing surface/head, and the spirit of the carver. The spirits of the ancestors are also considered to be in the drum.

Originally, djembe drums were played in special gatherings. They were used for rituals and other traditional performances. They were used in healing ceremonies as it is widely believed that the sound of the instrument could raise a person’s energy. A djembe forms an ensemble with other djembes and one or more dunun for traditional performances. The instrument has been introduced to the western world and has become widely accepted. It can be used for all kinds of performances now and anyone, irrespective of gender, can now play the instrument. It has been featured in some western music and there are now djembe recordings for western audiences.


Factors to Consider When Buying a Djembe Drum

Just like in other instruments, there are factors that matter so much and need to be considered before anything is bought. For the djembe, here are the most important factors to consider when shopping:

Materials

The materials the djembe drum is made of matters a lot. The shell and the drumhead determine what you will get in terms of sound and durability. If you want the true djembe sound, you have to buy an instrument that is carved from hardwood and topped with goatskin. There are synthetic models that are made with fiberglass and synthetic skin. Though these materials may be durable, the sound quality is never the same with what you can get from djembes made of wood and animal skin.

The Mounting

There are different mounting systems used for djembes and you need to understand the one used for the instrument you want to buy as that will always have an impact on the experience you will have with the instrument. Traditional mounting makes use of wooden pegs while modern mounting uses a system of 3 different rings. Traditional mounting normally results in a lower pitch while modern mounting allows for a higher pitch.

Sound Quality

Though the material used affects the sound quality of an instrument significantly, the method of construction and even the mounting system affect the sound too. You need an instrument that offers great sound.

Aesthetic Appeal

The way your instrument looks will say a lot about you. While the material used for the instrument and the sound quality is the most important things, the way the instrument looks matters a lot too. Buy djembe drums that are beautifully designed.

Price

Price is another important thing to consider when buying a djembe drum. You don’t want to end up paying more for a quality you can get at a cheaper price. It is important that you shop around to find affordable instruments, especially when you are on a budget. Price shouldn’t be the most important thing, but you should consider it before buying anything.


Conclusion

Djembe drum is one of the most recognized percussion instruments of African origin. The goblet-shaped instrument has been around for centuries but was introduced to the global music community a few decades ago. It is an interesting instrument that has been widely accepted and played by ardent percussionists around the world.

Shopping for such instrument as a djembe can be very difficult. Whether you are a new instrumentalist that wants to start with the djembe or an experienced player of the instrument, you need to shop carefully to get the best. For those on a budget, the Jive Large Djembe Drum is a good option to consider. If you want one of the very best and don’t mind spending the money, the X8 Drums Stallion Professional Djembe is a premium choice. The Meinl Percussion ADJ3-L Djembe is also a wonderful drum that sells at a reasonable price.

At Surf n’ Buy, we believe that online shopping shouldn’t be too difficult. That is why we research extensively and test products to determine the best ones for our readers. We sincerely hope that this piece can help you buy the perfect djembe drum and enjoy the experience of playing the exceptional African drum.

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