Instrument - Percussion - African


West African drums similar to Djembes in sound, but with a more conical shape. Our selection varies depending on availability from our suppliers. We generally carry bougarabous from Ghana that have goatskin heads, and others from Mali that may have cow or goat skin heads (both hairless and with hair). Contact us for our most current selection.

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(Pronounced "jem-bay") These are large, hand-made, goblet-shaped wooden drums. The Djembe is the drum of the Mandinka people, dating back to the great Mali empire of the 12th century. A goblet-shaped hand drum traditionally chiseled from a solid log, the Djembe is found in many West African countries. It is traditionally played standing with the drum between the legs and supported with a shoulder harness, but can also be played seated. A sacred and versatile drum used traditionally in healing ceremonies, ancestor worship, rites of passage, warrior rituals, as well as social dances. Today, djembes are the most popular drums for playing in drum circles and are also widely used in various types of popular music.

We're proud to say we have the largest and best selection of djembes in the DC Metro area! We work with a number of different suppliers and our selection is constantly changing. Below, we'll list examples of some of the drums we usually have in stock. Keep in mind that each wooden djembe is handmade and appearances will vary. Sizes, specs and prices are all subject to change depending on availability from our suppliers. The best way to purchase a djembe is to visit our shop and try out as many as you like; they all sound different! If you are just starting out and not sure what you're looking for or how to get a good sound out of the drum, we'll be happy to demo drums for you. If you can't visit us in person, we'll be glad to hand-pick a drum for you out of our current selection based on the qualities you're looking for -- contact us.

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Djembe adjustments

Rope-tuned djembes sometimes need to have their rope tension tightened or loosened. This might be due to the player's sound preference (a "tighter" djembe produces a higher-pitched, crisp sound, while a "looser" djembe usually has more of a bass response), and/or changing climatic conditions. The natural skin heads tend to expand and loosen in humid weather, and tighten up in dry weather. If a drum gets too tight due to dry conditions, the head can split - so we recommend checking your drum often during the winter. If there is not much "give" to the head, we'd advise loosening the tension slightly. There are tutorials on YouTube you can check out to learn how to do this (it's a good skill for every player to know), but we also perform this service in-store (usually requires leaving your drum here for a few days). If you buy a djembe from us, your first adjustment is free. Otherwise, adjustments are $15. We can also rehead your djembe - see this page. If you try out a djembe at our store that you really like but the tension/pitch is not quite where you'd like it, we'll adjust it for you before you take it home.

Talking Drum

Our hand-made talking drums have a playable head on each end of the drum. The heads are held on with string or cord so that when held under your arm, the drum can be squeezed to change the tension on the heads. Made in Ghana, comes with playing stick.

Shop Talking Drums...

Prices and availability vary. Contact us for current stock.

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