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Drumhead Replacement - A 'How To' Guide

Posted by X8 DRUMS Wednesday, March 28, 2007 0 Comments
Below is a step-by-step guide in replacing drumheads. After reading the information, you will be able to replace drumheads on frame (ex: tambourine, african djembe) and ceramic drums.

1. You will need: masking tape, yellow wood glue, a straight edge (i.e. yardstick, etc), a utility knife and a clamp, along with your drum and the replacement goatskin head. An extended hose clamp works well. A strap and ratchet system may work. Remember that your clamp must provide even pressure around the drum.

2. Estimate the size of skin you will need by fitting your drum with a sheet of newspaper. It should cover the head of the drum, the area to be glued, and have enough excess to maneuver and clamp it. If the skin is too small you will have to start over with a larger skin.

3. Soak your goatskin in water for approximately 15 minutes. The skin should be pliable when you begin to re-head your drum.

4. Affix the masking tape to the upper part of the drum. Align it approximately one inch below the top of the drum. The tape is used to keep the glue from running down the side of the drum and gives a sharp edge to your replaced head.

5. If the old skin is still in place, use the skin edge as a guide to affix the masking tape. Remove any decorative trim. Place the tape on the drum adjacent to the skin edge. Peel off the old skin and dried glue. You do not need to clean the drum completely. Do not use cleaners or handle the lip surface, as this will leave residues.

6. To affix the masking tape without the old skin as a guide, place your straight edge across the top of the drum. Measure down, about one inch, from the yardstick to the drum's upper edge. If you need to, make a pencil mark on the drum. Do this around the entire drum. Affix the upper edge of the tape along this mark.

7. Apply the glue to the drum surface when your new skin is almost ready. Cover the drum surface from the top inside opening to the upper edge of the tape. Apply the yellow wood glue liberally. Let the glue slightly overlap the tape edge for a even fit.

8. Remove the goatskin from the water and blot it dry.
Drape the skin over the drum and center it. Do not squeeze out the glue. Smooth out the wrinkles.

9. Secure your clamp on top of the masking tape. Do not fully tighten the clamp. The skin should be sandwiched between the tape and clamp. You do not want the clamp to be above the tape edge. It will squeeze out the glue and leave indent marks in the new head.

10. Pull the skin edges to tighten the skin over the drum. Alternately tighten the clamp and pull the skin. For Ceramic Drums the goatskin should be pulled as tight as possible. If you are replacing a Fishskin head, pull it snuggly, but not as tight as possible or it could rip. IMPORTANT: for Frame Drums, the skin should have a slight droop of no more than 1/16 of an inch below level. The skin shrinks as it dries and will naturally tighten.

11. Allow the skin to dry 24 - 48 hours.

12. Trim the excess skin. Carefully, with a utility knife, cut along the upper edge of the tape. If you placed the clamp on evenly and it is level you may be able to use the clamp as a cutting guide. You should be able to feel the edge of the masking tape under the skin.

13. Remove tape. Wipe off your drum. If you wish, you can finish off the raw edge of the skin with colored electrical tape or fabric trim.

14. Enjoy your new drumhead!

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Djembe History

Posted by X8 DRUMS Monday, March 19, 2007 0 Comments
DjembeAfrican Djembe, Deep Carve
The African djembe (also jembe, jenbe, yembe, sanbanyi in Susu; pronounced "ZHEM-bay") is a goatskin covered drum shaped like a large goblet and meant to be played with bare hands. Traditionally crafted djembe drums are carved in one single piece from hollowed out hardwood trees. Specific types of wood depend upon the forests accessible to the drum makers. Some West African hardwoods used for musician quality instruments (carved in Guinea, Senegal, Mali, and Ivory Coast) include dimba (bush mango), lenge, bois rouge, acajou, iroko, hare or khadi, and dugura.

As a result of the large goblet shape and the goatskin head, there is a significant difference in the tones produced. Striking the skin near the center produces a bass note; striking the skin near the rim can produce either a tone or slap note, depending on the technique used. The slap has a higher pitch than the tone. Some consider the djembe female and the Ashikos to be male. The djembe is said to contain 3 spirits. The spirit of the tree, the spirit of the animal of which the drumhead is made and the spirit of the instrument maker. The African djembe is also known as the magical drum.

The African djembe is used for ceremonial purposes such as a wedding, full moon or the start of a harvest season for farmers. There is general agreement that the origin of the African djembe is associated with a class of Mandinka/Susu blacksmiths known as Numu. The wide dispersion of the djembe drums throughout West Africa may be due to Numu migrations dating from the first millennium A.D.

The Malinke, an indigenous people who are spread throughout West Africa, use the djembe to help spread their message of peace. In the Malinke culture it's an expression of joy. And is often used as a way for the African people to share their thoughts about the world. African drummer Mamady Keita, named best djembe drummer in Africa by the Pan-African Festival in Algers puts it best: "For us personally it's a way for us to share our own thoughts about the world. It helps us show through music that all our problems are not needed, and that we can come together as people because we can come together to play music."

Next: How to Play the Djembe

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Welcome to X8 Drums!

X8 Drums is a premier online store for all things hand drums. Specializing in pristine quality djembe drums that are manufactured using legally certified timber that is environmentally sustainable, our staff is well trained at helping artists and hand drum enthusiasts fill their needs with the right gear.

We're truly independent, serve a niche market, and are focused on matching up our customer's needs with the right product. Providing a hassle free online experience complete with accurate information, knowledgeable staff, great selection, and full transparency are at the heart of what we're about.

Check out the customer feedback page to find out what to expect when you are a part of X8 Drums.

In addition to offering the entire line of top hand drum manufacturers; features a Drum Circle blog on topics such as hand drum news, djembe video lessons, how-to articles, drum circle events, and instrument care. The site also offers a hand drum artist directory as well as expert advice on its extensive offering of hand drums.

Spend some time with us, bookmark the site and join our monthly newsletter to keep in touch with the latest news in the X8 community. (subscribe to the newsletter on the bottom left-hand side of this page and get a coupon!) We're a think-tank full of ideas working to provide you with exceptional educational content and the best quality instruments.

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About the X8 Logo
Our logo tells all... The "X" (as in the way the brain is wired) and "8" (Infinity symbol) are deeply compelling and significant symbols that summarize the Cosmic Nature and Purpose of Drums and how they can harmonize and elevate the human nervous system.
Many thanks to Baba Issa for the interpretation.

The dancing icon is just a dude enjoying the beat of the drum. Sorry, no deep meaning for him. Although we're open to suggestions. :-)

Thanks for visiting and enjoy the drums!

Some of our most popular content:
Djembe Buying Guide
How to Tune a Djembe
Best Beginner Djembe
Free Djembe Rhythm Video Lessons
Virtual Drum Circle
How to Adjust a Cajon



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Tuning Conga Drums

Posted by X8 DRUMS Monday, March 12, 2007 0 Comments
Congas, being percussive instruments, do not have to be tuned to any particular note in purely percussive settings. They are tunable to different notes. However, when playing with harmonic instruments, they may be tuned to specific notes. Generally congas are tuned using the open tone. The original drums were tuned by adjusting knots and tension ropes on the drumhead, or, where the drumheads were tacked or nailed to the top of the shell, by careful heating of the head. Modern congas use a screw-and-lug, tension head system that makes them easier to tune (or detune).

Terminology for the drums varies. The naming system used typically follows those currently in use by major conga manufacturers. The drums are discussed in order from largest to smallest; the sizes of the drumheads slightly vary by manufacturer, model, and style:

The supertumba can be as large as 14 inches across (35.5 cm).
The tumba is typically 12 to 12.5 inches across (30.5 to 31.8 cm).
The conga is typically 11.5 to 12 inches across (29.2 to 30.5 cm).
The quinto is typically around 11 inches across (about 28 cm).
The requinto can be smaller than 10 inches across (24.8 cm).
The ricardo can be as small as 9 inches across (22.9 cm). Since this drum is typically played while hanging from a shoulder strap, it is considerably shorter and narrower than a traditional conga.

In general, the particular note will depend on the make, model, and size of the conga drum. The drum should be tuned so that the bass tone resonates; the open tone rings, and the slaps pierce through the musical mix. If the tuning is too loose, the bass and slap tones will sound "flabby"; too tight, and the drums will sound unnatural and "pinched." With a single drum, it is difficult to go wrong with tightening the drum until it makes a pleasing sound. When two or more drums are used, however, there is much variation on which two notes are chosen. With two drums, it is not unusual to find them tuned a perfect fourth apart.

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The Women Master Drummers of Guinea

Posted by X8 DRUMS Friday, March 9, 2007 0 Comments
The following is an unbelievable story I recently read regarding women in Africa who are literally being disowned by family members for playing the drums. That's what many members of the Amazones (The Women Master Drummers of Guinea) have to deal with in their native African homeland of Guinea.

The instrument of choice in The Amazones performance is the djembe. Traditionally played by men in Guinea, the djembe is forbidden for women to even touch. Several of the women in the group have been shunned by their families, where in one case a mother of one of the djembe players not only disowned her but told her to look for another job, and even burnt her performance costume. It's wild to think that this is happening in the 21st century. "The mind couldn't get it that the woman decided to do this," said the Amazones' founding director Mamoudou Conde.

Conde said he encouraged the Amazones, a group of up to 14 women, to push past the criticisms and to stick with the djembe. "One of the reasons for bringing the girls on this instrument for me, is really to speak out," Conde said. "Part is a fight for African women and their rights." Conde added that after nearly a decade of performing worldwide, the women's families are starting to see inspiration in the group's determination, and even young girls are becoming exposed to the instrument.

"Many girls now are picking up some of these instruments," Conde said. "They see their mother doing something they want to do. This really gives girls courage and ability to do what they want to do.

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History of the Bongo Drum

Posted by X8 DRUMS Wednesday, March 7, 2007 0 Comments
Bongo Drums are a type of world percussion instrument traditionally made up of two different size drums attached to each other. The larger drum is called a hembra (Spanish for female) and the smaller drum is called the macho (Spanish for male). Drumhead sizes vary between 6" & 7" to 7" & 8 1/2". There are even smaller drum sizes for children: Yes, bongos for kids. Those sizes are typically around 5" & 6". During the early half of the 20th century, Afro-Caribbean rhythms had a huge influence on popular dance music and jazz worldwide. This brought bongos into our cultural vocabulary, from Beatniks to Mambo to the current revival of Cuban folkloric music.

The history of bongo drumming can be traced to the Cuban music styles known as Changui and Son. These styles first developed in eastern Cuba (Orient province) in the late 19th century. Initially, bongos had heads that were tacked and tuned with a heat source. By the 1940s, metal-tuning lugs developed to facilitate easier tuning. It is believed that Bongos evolved from the Abakua Drum trio 'Bonko' and its lead drum 'Bonko Enmiwewos'. These drums are still a fundamental part of the Abakua Religion in Cuba. If joined with a wooden peck in the middle, such drums would look much like the bongos we know today.

Bongos are traditionally held between the legs, with the macho up against one thigh and the hembra down against the opposite calf. Most right-handed players place the macho in the upper left position, as the basic "martillo" pattern focuses on the macho. Lefties can do whatever works best for them. Always strike the drums with the pads of your fingertips, never with your knuckles. Striking with the bony joint will make a louder sound at first, but you will injure your hands that way, and risk causing or aggravating arthritis in your fingers. Practice striking with the pads, using a "snappy" wrist motion, and you will develop the crisp loud sound you want.

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Mid-East Mfg: World Percussion Supplier

Posted by X8 DRUMS Friday, March 2, 2007 0 Comments
One of the largest U.S. manufacturers and suppliers of ethnic musical instruments, Mid-East has been family owned and operated for over 33 years (since 1973). They've stayed in business this long because they offer top quality products, and stand 100% behind everything they make.

The inception of Mid-East occurred back in the early 70's when Alice was working as a belly dance instructor. Belly dancing was the rage in the 70's and one of Alice's tasks, as a teacher, was to find the most reasonably priced materials for her students. Enter husband (Steve). At that time Steve worked as a stockbroker dealing with financial numbers all day. When Steve found out what the zills (finger cymbals) were costing he said "I could make them better and for less." And he did. After supplying Alice's students, they began to manufacture and supply zills to a number of dance studios. It wasn't long before their living room was turned into a makeshift factory. All four of their boys helped to count, clean, and bag zills. Within a few years Steve quit his stockbroker job. The family was in business. Customers began to show interest in a number of other instruments, and as they did, Mid-East began to manufacture and import bongos, tambourines, African Djembe's, Dhol's, and more ethnic based instruments from around the world. Today the company is housed in an 18,000 square foot warehouse in West Melbourne, Florida.

Don't be surprised if you have difficulty selecting that one special piece from our Mid-East line of percussion instruments. If you have questions, our knowledgeable staff at X8 Drums is dedicated to providing friendly and helpful service. We want our customers to know that Mid-East makes well crafted instruments at an exceptional value. We only carry the best!!

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