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About Our Drums

How To Tune

How do I tune my drum?

Tuning a djembe or bougarabou

1. Start by noting the direction of the rope. Study the final, tied knot. The last tied knot is your starting point.

2. Guide the rope through the next two vertical ropes.

3. Now you have to thread the rope back, over the last vertical rope, and under the second-last rope again.

4. Now you must thread the rope over the last two vertical ropes and back out under the next 2 free vertical ropes. If you now pull on the rope, a new knot will form and the tone will rise. The drum should now look like the drum in picture 2.

You now have to repeat step 3 to make each new knot. Warning! Too much stretching may tear the skin. Proceed carefully.

Tuning a kpanlogo
Kpanlogo are easily tuned, by gently tapping the wooden pegs with a rubber-headed mallet.


How To Play

How to use these instructions

Listen to the audio and read the pattern in this article to find out, which stroke to play and which hand to use.
The rhythms are in exactly the same order on the recording as they are in text.
The top line gives you the timing of the beats
The second line fells you, if to play open O, slap S, or bass B.
The tone exactly under the mark of the top line you play on the beat if it is between, you play off beat.
A dot (.) preceding a stroke means it is played off beat, just after the beat or just before the next beat.
A dot on its own stays for a pause.

An asterisks (*) before a double-note means you play with two hands at nearly the some time.
Underlined notes are played with more emphasis,
The bottom line tells you, which hand to use: L left hand, R right hand.

How to hold the drum

The most commonly used drums in Ghana are the Djembe and the Panlogo.
Hold your drum between your knees and incline it at a slight angle, facing away from you. This opens up the hole of the bottom of the drum, allowing the sound to come through. The body should be relaxed. If not, get a massage while playing, this works very well!

Look at me on how you should hold your drum

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The three basic strokes

A Djembe or a Ponlogo can each produce an infinite number of sounds, probably more than a western drum kit. For our purposes here, we will describe the three basic strokes:

OPEN - a high pitched tone
SLAP - harsh staccato and loud
BASS - a deep resonant tone


THE OPEN

The open stroke has a high pitched ringing tone. It is played with the fingers straight and together, hitting the periphery of the drum in a bouncy motion. As you can see on the picture, the bases of the fingers come into contact with the edge of the drum. The thick line on the picture of the inside of the hand shows where the drum impacts the hand.

THE SLAP

This is the most difficult of the three techniques. When played correctly, the slap is short, sharp and loud. The sound should not be continuous. The heel of the hand impacts against the edge of the drum as the fingertips grasp the skin, Bring your fingers toward the edge as if you were try to pull the skin up. This takes practice!

THE BASS

This is a deep, resonant sound which can be felt low down in the body, The hand is cupped and strikes the center of the drum firmly before bouncing back again. For all these sounds you are advised to listen to audio if your sound is approximately like mine, then you are doing well.

Drumming Styles

PANLOGO

This rhythm originates from the Accra Region and is more complex than Ouge. Groups can sit around and play Panlogo for hours. Listen to the Panlogo beat WMA file.

The instructional sound recording WMA file for the Panlogo notations below.

Timing

8/4 I I I I I I I I
1st support

8/4 I I I I I I I I
BO OO .O .S B SS O SS
RL RR .L .L R LR R RL
2nd support

8/4 I I I I I I I I
OO OO B SS O OO B SS
RL RL R RL R RL R RL
Basic Rhythm

8/4 I I I I I I I I
B SS B SS B SS O SO
R RL R RL R RL R RL
The Changes

Just put these in and play at your discretion inside your rhythm

1.)

8/4 I I I I I I I I
O SS BO .S O SS B SS
R RL RL .L R RL R RL
2.)

8/4 I I I I I I I I
BO O SO .S O S B SS
RL L RL .L R R R RL
3.)

8/4 I I I I I I I I
BO O *OO SS S *OO SS S
RL R *LR RL R *LR RL R
4.)

8/4 I I I I I I I I
BO OO .O .O O .O O OO
RL RL .L .R R .R L RL
8/4 I I I I I I I I
O SS .S OO O S S .
R RL .R LR L R R .
5.)

8/4 I I I I I I I I
BO O O .S . O S .
RL R R .L . R R .
8/4 I I I I I I I I
O OO OO .S B SS O SS
R RL RL .L R RL R RL
6.)

8/4 I I I I I I I I
BO O OO OO OO O SS SS
RL R RL RL RL R RL RL
8/4 I I I I I I I I
SS S *OO SS B SS O SS
RL R *LR RL R RL R RL
7.)

8/4 I I I I I I I I
*OO OS SS S . O S .
*RL RR LR L . R R .
8/4 I I I I I I I I
*OO OS SS S O S . .
*RL RR LR L R R . .
8.)

8/4 I I I I I I I I
O SS S . O SS S .
R RL R . R RL . .
8/4 I I I I I I I I
O SS S O O SS S .
R RL R R R RL R .
The Ending

8/4 I I I I I I I I
S .O O . O . . .
R .R L . R . . .
8/4 I I I I I I I I
S .O O O B . . .
R .R L R L . . .
OUGE

Ouge is a catchy rhythm which is easy to get hand of, a good one to start with. Listen to the Ouge beat WMA file.

Ouge sound instructions for the notations below WMA file.

Timing

8/4 I I I I I I I I
Supporting Rhythm

8/4 I I I I I I I I
OO O SO .S OO O BB B
RL R RL .R RL R LR L
Basic Rhythm

8/4 I I I I I I I I
BB B SS .S BB B O O
RL R RL .L RL R R R
The Changes

1.)

8/4 I I I I I I I I
BB B SS .S BB BO O O
RL R RL .L RL RL R R
2.)

8/4 I I I I I I I I
BB B SS .S BB B OSsss SO
RL R RL .L RL R RL RL
3.)

8/4 I I I I I I I I
SB B SS .S BB B O SS
RL R RL .L RL R L RL
4.)

8/4 I I I I I I I I
BB B SS .S BB B O O
RL R RL .L RL R R R
8/4 I I I I I I I I
. O SS S O SS S O
. R RL R R RL R R
5.)

8/4 I I I I I I I I
BB B SS .S BB B O SS
RL R RL .L RL R L RL
6.)

8/4 I I I I I I I I
BB B *OOo OO .O .O .S .S
RL R *LRr LR .L .L .L .L
8/4 I I I I I I I I
SB B O O BB B SO S
RL R R R RL R RL L
The Ending

8/4 I I I I I I I I
. S .O O . O . .
. R .R L . R . .
8/4 I I I I I I I I
. S .O O O B . .
. R .R L R L . .
FUME-FUME

The Fume-Fume rhythm is used by the fetish priests to work up their magic. But it is also used by drummers everywhere in Ghana. In the hands of the master drummer it sounds sensational.

Timing

6/3 or 12/3 I I I I I I
Supporting Rhythm

6/3 or 12/3 I I I I I I
O O .S O O .S
R L .R R L .R
Basic Rhythm

6/3 or 12/3 I I I I I I
SS SB .B SS SB .B
RL RL .R RL RL .R
6/3 or 12/3 I I I I I I
SS SB .B OO OO .B
RL RL .R RL RL .R
The Changes

1.)

6/3 or 12/3 I I I I I I
BS S S O S O
RL R R R L R
6/3 or 12/3 I I I I I I
BS S S .OO . .
RL R R .LR . .
2.)

6/3 or 12/3 I I I I I I
SS SS SS .O . .
RL RL RL .R . .
6/3 or 12/3 I I I I I I
SS SS SS .O . .
RL RL RL .R . .
3.)

6/3 or 12/3 I I I I I I
*OO S S *OO SS S
*LR R L *LR RL R
6/3 or 12/3 I I I I I I
*OO .S . S .S .
*LR .L . R .L .
4.)

6/3 or 12/3 I I I I I I
OO BB BB BB BB BB
RL RL RL RL RL RL
Attention!!

6/3 or 12/3 I I I I I I
BB BB S *OO *SS S
RL RL R *LR *RL R
5.)

6/3 or 12/3 I I I I I I
*SSB *SSB B S S S
*RLR *RLR L R L R
6/3 or 12/3 I I I I I I
*SSB *SSB B S S S
*RLR *RLR L R L R
6.)

6/3 or 12/3 I I I I I I
S S S BS S S
R L R LR R L
6/3 or 12/3 I I I I I I
S S S BS S S
R L R LR R L
The Ending

6/3 or 12/3 I I I I I I
*OO *SS *SS *OO *OO *OO
*LR *LR *LR *LR *LR *LR
6/3 or 12/3 I I I I I I
*OO *SS *SS *OO *OO *OO
*LR *LR *LR *LR *LR *LR


How to Care

Your drum is a piece of art, but also a musical instrument.

Simple rules

  • Both the wood and the leather head are sensitive to moisture. Be sure the djembe is kept in a room with constant temperature, and don't take it out in the rain. If you live in a humid environment, consider storing your djembe with a towel wrapped around the head.
  • Don't play with rings, watches, or bracelets on your hand.
  • Don't bounce or bang your drum.
  • Never use lotion or oil on the skin.
  • Be careful in tunig - over-tightening can tear the skin.
  • Consider buying a padded bag, especially if you'll be traveling.
  • Consider occasionally using wood oil or a safe, moisturizing preservative on your drum shell.

Occasional maintenance
Your drum will arrive in superb condition. However, over time it can deteriorate. Check the following occasionally:

  • Are the ropes fraying?
  • Is the skin still playing well? Has it been cut or torn?
  • Are there any cracks in the shell?
  • Have you tuned the drum so often and so taught that you have 3 or more rows of horizontal knots?


Our Drums

Many of you have asked us why is your prices so low? Is quality bad or you underpaying your producers?... The answer is No and No, simply put this is economies of scale at work.. we ship so many drums and so effectively we can afford to pass this unbelievable price and quality instruments directly to you without any middle man involved.

We pioneered the process in which we can make you experience in purchasing a drum just you would have otherwise in a store �..that has 500 different drum designs :

Here is our process:

1. Our first and foremost intentions are is to give you a unique, one of a kind instrument with the same precise selection process that can't even be match in your local drum shop�besides providing with you over 500 various drum sizes and designs.

2. First we have the most competent people around including the most famous Ghanian musicians as our drum consultants such as Rasta Emanuel more...

3. We work with several hand selected carvers. Our producers are small cooperatives of artisans each producing small number of finely crafted instruments. We work with artisans to make sure they use the highest quality components to make the drums and we pay premium for the fine work they do. Here is how our drums are made...

4. Another reason we employ such many producers is to deliver you the most complete selection of designs and sizes. We want to make sure that drum you will buy from us is as unique as yourself.

5. Each drum is hand picked and carefully inspected by Rasta Emanuel and his band members. They make sure that each drum is a truly musician quality instrument and a piece of art. Each drum guaranteed to be on par with the drums used by professional musician like Rasta ... in fact our drums are played by him

6. Each drum is carefully inspected for cracks and other problems during and post construction of the drum. The water content is constantly measured and corrected through kiln use. We test each drum for presence of an Antrax and other pathogens to make sure you are safe with our instruments.

7. Our professional musicians thereafter tune the drums to get the best sound they can produce. In fact we tune the drum 2 times, first during the production and second time right before shipment so leather has enough time to adjust and introduce its best sound qualities. Here is how it is done..

8. We carefully photograph, measure, weight and catalogue each drum to give you the most accurate description of an instrument.

9. Right before packing we make a short video and a sound clip of musician playing the drum and demonstrating the kaleidoscope of sounds it can produce. We are sure that in professional hands each drum demonstrates its best characters.

10. Finally we carefully pack the drum and deliver it in moisture controlled containers to our warehouses in US or Europe with help of specially negotiated arrangements with Maritime Cargo lines and then to you.

That's about it folks�are you ready to select your drum?

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More info.? Please e-mail us with any questions at sales@afrodesign.com


Buying Guide

African Drums are just like fine Watches or Shoes. Fine watches made by Swiss and fine shoes made in Italy, you don�t buy Rolex made in China or Prada shoes made in Indonesia ?. Lately as popularity of drums grew worldwide Djembe are made in Indonesia, China, Pakistan and so on, will you buy Rolex made in China ??

With such a vast selection you really need to know what to look for.

When purchasing a drum you essentially invest in its shell, this is your drum. This is what makes or breaks the drum. The components of a good shell are shell design, wood and carver.

Shell Design

All Djembe shells have basically the same design and its nature is quite similar to principles found in your subwoofer speaker. You have a skin head (your bass speaker) and a sound pipe (the drum shell). Just like in a subwoofer there should be a very strict balance of a sizes to make the best sounding instrument. The height of the drum shell is MOST important as its size will define the length of a sound waves it will amplify. If drum is too short, there will be no bass at all. If it is too tall than the base will be so low you will not hear it, hence the height of the drum shell should be between 23 and 26 inches to accommodate the lowest bass that human can naturally hear. This height will dictate the size of your �speaker� i.e. the drum head. The proper size for a drum head is 12 to 14 inch diameter

The Wood

There harder the wood the thinner the shells can be carved, thus having more air inside of resonating chamber, naturally lowering the resonate frequency of a shell. If the shell is too thin it will resonate like a cheap $29.59 boom box ? that will also be prone to cracks. Make it too thick and you will log around tons of weight and no bass. The wood qualities itself is a major contributor to shell quality.

-Iroko wood from Ivory Coast is most balanced wood delivering perhaps the most consistent quality of Djembe shells. Medium weight and very hard delivers the best sound .
-Lenge or Linke wood from Mali and Senegal is extremely good and hard to come by. Carvers have to carve very thin shells from this super dense and heavy wood making shells very brittle.
-Tweneboa from Ghana is fine as long as taken from a bottom or middle of mature tree where it has the most density. Very light wood for its density makes nice shells, however many �tourist grade� shells are made from young Tweneboa trees that are too light an porous for good drum shell.
-African Mahagony is very good wood for drum shells, do not confuse with plantation mahagony from Indonesia, these trees are too young to make a real drum shell.
-Mansonia wood from various parts of West Africa is yellow brown or dark brown wood and is superb

The Carver

The carving is a most important as it delivers the necessary balance for a specific wood used. While the outside the shell you see the inside is what you hear, so make sure there are no splinters or patched holes are inside of a drum. We personally select our Drums from Master Carvers in Africa. They are carved from a single piece of wood. Most of our carvers work exclusively for us and are familiar with our high standards.

Rope

This is what keeps the drum tuned. 99% of African drums are made with nylon fishing rope. That rope can increase in length 100% without breakage, hence you can never keep your drum tuned ? look for black colored flat rope to stay away from. We actually re-rope the drums in USA with high quality non stretch alpine rope with nylon core. Such rope will keep your drum tuned no matter what.

Rings

We use good fitted rings wrapped in nylon thread, with plastic underneath to prevent rust from damaging the skin. On high end drums the 3 ring design is user to tighten the skin super tight for those crisp slaps.

Skin

Look for dry shaved goat skin. The thickness of a skin should be medium with spine clearly visible. Stay away from skins from Pakistan and Indonesia they are too thin.

About The Cracks

Small line cracks along the top and bottom edge of a drum are normal, as they appear during wood drying process, however be very careful with nicely painted over drums from Indonesia as stain and paint is a good way to hide problems with a wood. Try to go for a clear oil stained finish.

Other things to look for

Many suppliers take a short cut in transporting the drums in humid and hot weather without proper humidity controlled containers. This will result in wood taking moisture from the air and crack when is dried out. Look for fine white powder under the top rings.

DSL/Cable speed Video
Medium speed Video
Dial Up speed Video
All movies are in Microsoft Media Player Format.
More info.? Please e-mail us with any questions at sales@afrodesign.com


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