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Djembe Care and Maintenance

29th Oct 2014

The proper care of your Djembe is invaluable to its longevity, appearance and sound. A well-maintained Djembe can last for years, or even longer, and be a long-standing centerpiece to your percussion collection or for your community drum circle. By keeping the basic needs of your Djembe in mind, it is sure to last a long time, helping to create amazing rhythms and sounds while still showcasing the beauty of its own construction and history.

A Djembe is typically constructed from African hardwoods and animal skin heads, and as such, the drum is sensitive to temperature and humidity changes. Always store your drum in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight and out of cold drafts. To protect your djembe drum further, invest in a bag specifically for the drum. Never leave your drum in a hot car or anywhere with extreme temperature changes. The drum’s head could split or its tuning be affected by the change, and keep it out of the rain, even during the most magical drum circles, to avoid damaging the skin of the drum.

To keep your Djembe looking and sounding its best, you can rub a small amount of olive oil into its skin, especially if the skin is excessively dry. The oil will help keep the skin supple and also help improve the tone and increase the life of the skin. Never use chemical cleaners to clean your goat skin drum head. If you notice sawdust or tiny holes in the wood of the drum, there could be a bug infestation that needs to be taken care of before the drum is damaged irreparably.

Kalimantan Djembe Demonstration

If you won’t be playing your Djembe for an extended period of time, de-tune it by loosening the ropes. Even if you play your drum regularly, giving it a break from the tension of the ropes can also help improve the longevity of the skin. If your Djembe needs to be tuned, ask an experienced friend to show you “the ropes,” or take it into a music store that specializes in Djembe tuning.

When playing your Djembe, only use your hands and remove any rings or other jewelry that could damage the drum head. Djembe drums are not meant to be played with sticks or mallets, and rings could have the same damaging effect to the skin as mallets or drum sticks.

Above all, play your Djembe whenever possible. By playing your Djembe, you are helping maintain its purpose and construction and should be able to detect any physical problems with the drum before they become emergency repairs. By keeping your Djembe in good repair and maintaining its skin and wood, you are helping to keep your drum in its best condition possible.