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What is the Best Beginner Djembe?

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Perhaps you were just bitten by the djembe bug, and want to dive right into your new passion… hands first. Maybe you walked by a drum circle and saw the fun that could be had, if only you had your own djembe or hand drum. For anyone starting out with a djembe, the first question that usually comes to mind is, “what is the best beginner djembe?”


The best beginner djembe comes in many forms, to be truthful. For some, the drum needs to have a visual impact, as well as great sound. For others, the method of tuning the drum is of the utmost importance, while the material used in the skin can be important for ethical or cultural reasons. Finding your best beginner djembe is a process that will not only result in a drum that reflects your personality, but it will also give you a great deal of insight into the history of these drums.

  1. Size Matters: The size of your djembe should make it comfortable to play. If a djembe is too small, it can create fatigue or stress injuries on your body.
  2. Rope or Key-Tuned: Rope tuning a djembe can be an art in itself, allowing for sound nuances that enhance the overall design. Key tuning is straight-forward and gets a drummer drumming faster with a more standard sound.
  3. Djembe Shell Material: Djembes come in a wide range of materials, from fiberglass and synthetic shells to indigenous wood from Africa or other manufacturing locations. As the sound will differ between natural and synthetic djembe drum shells, so will the sound between different types of wood.
  4. Djembe Drum Head Material: Djembe drum heads, like shells, are available in natural animal skins, as well as synthetic versions. These variances will influence the sound of the drum, and can impact the ability to repair vs. replace the drum head.
  5. Origin of the Djembe: Many drummers just want a great sounding djembe produced by a trusted manufacturer, but the history and culture behind a djembe from Mali, Senegal or Guinea can enchant on a whole new level.

When it comes to discovering the best beginner djembe, the journey from adopting a new drum to finally claiming the instrument as one’s own is the best illustration of the djembe today. These drums are the product of cultural traditions and a mix of modern sound and manufacturing. Once you embark on this journey, however, your views on djembe drums and hand percussion instruments will never be the same.

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