Picking a properly-sized djembe is important for both comfort and sound production. Djembes come in a variety of sizes, which can make knowing which to get a little confusing at first. The variety of sizing is a good thing, though, as people also come in a variety of sizes and djembes are truly drums for the people! If you need help deciding what is the right djembe size for you, take the following things into consideration. First, hand size is a good indicator of drum size needed. Djembes are hand drums, so you need to make sure the drum head is large enough to play comfortably while producing the range of sound you need.
Keeping that in mind, most adults need a djembe with a head at least 9”-10” in diameter. Many more will do better with a 12” diameter drum head. With the djembe drum, specific head sizing goes with specific heights. A drum with a 9” head will typically be 16” in height and a 10” head drum will be 20” in height. Drum height is another consideration when looking at what is the right djembe size for you, because most people play the djembe in a seated position. When sitting down, you need the drum head to rest at least 2” above your knees or your body will get in the way of your drumming. To be able to produce the best sounds with your drum, your arms should be able to rest at a 90-degree angle while playing.
Many drummers would say that djembes with 9” and 10” heads are more ideal for older children than adults; however, a smaller adult would likely do fine with that sizing. Most adults will opt for at least the 12” head djembe, which stands 24” off the ground. This size usually allows for comfortable playing. For extremely tall adults or drummers who simply prefer a deeper sound, there are larger djembes available. A drum with a 14” head is the largest size and may be perfect for those who stand over 6’ tall. Keep in mind, however, that the larger a drum is, the heavier it is. Many djembe drummers will use a drum with a 9” or 10” head for travelling purposes.
While look can be significant when choosing the drum that speaks to you, it is most important to decide what is the right djembe size for you. A drum that is too small will not provide as much playing pleasure over time as a drum that is a proper size for your body. Small djembes are perfect for children, but generally inhibit the range of adult drummers. Before committing to a drum, make sure you have a size that will work for you over the long haul.