I received an email this week with a request on tips and advice for caring for a djembe. It’s a worthy question. Your drum is an investment. So looking after it is important. I’ve had skins that have lasted for years, and some just a few months. Sometimes it’s luck of the draw HOWEVER, looking after it can mean a longer life and fewer dollars on repairs. Here’s a few things to get you started.
- If you have a gorgeous drum like this bad boy from Drum maker Heath at Circle of Life in Gosford NSW, you’ve likely spent between $450-900 on your drum, so why wouldn’t you spend a little more on a bag to protect your drum. There are all kinds of bags, from the basic African cloth bag, which is fine if you’re not moving your drum around much, to the padded, backpack style bags which are great for carting it around & getting it in and out of vehicles.
- Keep your drum in it’s bag at home when you’re not playing and store your drum in the part of the house with the most consistent temperature. The extreme temperatures are what causes the problems as your skin expands and contracts with temp changes. So don’t leave it in the car or out in the shed!
- Remove all finger rings when you play your drum. Your watch too if this will hit the side of the drum. These can damage your drum and damage your hands.
- Don’t use any kind of creams on your drum, although rubbing your own hands with shea butter or similar (not hand creams), will not only look after your hands, but transfer some moisture to your drum as well. There are however, natural oils in your hands, so if you’re playing often, that should be enough.
- Play your djembe as much as you can. This keeps the head in good condition.
- Only play your djembe with your hands. If you have childrens drums, soft, padded mallets might be ok, but be careful about any sharp edges. Hands are always the most appropriate mallets you can find.
- Be careful not to overtune / overtighten your drum.
- DO NOT get your djembe skin wet. Avoid any kind of drinks or moisture around your drum skin.
Most of all remember that it’s a musical instrument, and instruments should always be treated with care. Check out these drum bags.
This lightweight bag on the left is made from traditional African fabric and great if your drum doesn’t do much travelling. The heavier padded bag on the right is great if you move your drum around a lot, or if you are getting it in and out of vehicles. Bags generally cost anything from $50-100. Check out what’s available from our friends at African Drumming in Melbourne.