Toca Freestyle Djembe: Full-Bodied Satisfaction
Toca Percussion has retooled its award-winning Freestyle djembe - a chaliced-shaped, single-headed hand drum with roots in the West African countries of Guinea and Mali.
Instead of employing the traditional method of carving the instrument from the trunk of a tree, Toca uses a patented shell made from synthetic PVC material for these djembes. This makes the Freestyle djembe amongst the lightest and the most durable models on the market. The PVC shell produces a bright resonance that allows for easy tone production and makes the drum an excellent choice for school programs and drum circles.
Toca puts hand-selected goat skin heads on the Freestyle djembes, providing an important organic element often lacking in all-synthetic models. The skins on the four djembes I played all had excellent quality heads with even thickness and no blemishes.
The new Freestyle djembes feature a low mass bold tuning system, unlike traditional djembes that use a somewhat complex rope tuning system. The Freestyle djembes are easily tuned with a small wrench that comes with the drums. The tuning mechanism provides for quick, practically effortless tuning of a wide range of tensions. The bolts on the Freestyle djembes have protective rubber sleeves on them, which protect the player's legs and enhance the look of the drum. A non-slip protective rubber collar is located on the bottom of the instruments.
The new Freestyle djembes are available in two new hand-painted finishes - antique gold and antique silver - to give them a distinctive, North African look. They come with a choice of four different head sizes: 9-inch, 10-inch, 12-inch and 14-inch. The heights of the drums are relative to the head sizes, making the 12-inch and 14-inch more of a traditional djembe size and the smaller drums are musch like a North African dumbek. All sizes produce full-bodied sounds with sharp high-end slaps and satisfying bass tones. - Doug Brush
AUGUST 2009 DOWNBEAT
In addition to the Freestyle Djembes, Toca also offers a line of Freestyle Didgeridoo instruments.