Best UK Djembe
Updated: December 2020
These are our top picks in the category of best djembe to buy in the UK.
#1 Selection: Overall Review Score = 93%
#2: Top Rated Alternative
#3: Best For Positive Review Scores
Djembe Drums: A Buyer’s Guide
There are many different hand drums and instruments out there, but the djembe are amongst some of the most popular, and most historically interesting! These drums originate in the West of Africa and are traditionally used to accompany rhythmic dancing. However, they have since become a staple of much Western popular music. A traditional djembe drum is made from tree bark and animal skin, however, there are artificial instruments available.
It may be tempting to think that all djembes do the same thing, or that they are similar to other hand drums such as the bongos. However, they have unique sounds and are therefore ideal for creating specific soundscapes and music, whether for dance, performance or recording. A djembe also makes for a fantastic entry-level instrument, meaning that children and young people should be able to get into playing the drums without much of a learning curve.
But what should you be looking for in the ideal djembe? This could differ from person to person. However, there are a few key aspects between djembes which are likely to impact on the sound you create, and how easy it is to make music. That’s why this buying guide exists – to help break down the difficulty that some people have in finding their perfect djembe drums for the first time!
At the end of the guide, we will also take a look at a few commonly asked questions likely to help you make a firm decision along the way.
Why Buy Djembe Drums?
Djembes offer some of the most authentic West African sounds you’ll be able to play on the drums. It is an entry-level percussive instrument, though that doesn’t mean you will necessarily be able to create perfect percussion right away! Therefore, make sure to take your time looking into guides and watching online videos to learn more about the instruments.
This guide is for buying advice and guidance only. While it may seem easy to get started with djembe drums, we strongly recommend you look carefully for guides and videos which can help you to adjust to playing them for the first time. Much of the time, it will be a case of finding your own sense of rhythm, while learning to play alongside other instruments and musicians. Unlike more complex drum kits, it is simple enough to get started, with little for your brain to focus on in terms of hand movements and in terms of co-ordination.
However, djembe drums are surprisingly diverse in terms of the sounds they create. Depending on where you hit a djembe, you can create bass and mid-range sounds, as well as percussive strikes. Therefore, they are often more diverse and intriguing than they may seem! However, the look of a djembe is certainly unique, and more and more people are adopting the instrument as a result.
It’s easy to think that all drums and percussive instruments play the same role or make the same sounds. One of the huge benefits of playing djembe drums lies in the fact that they are so diverse. Therefore, it is well worth looking up videos and trying a djembe for yourself to see how it feels.
Things to Look For in Djembe Drums
There are actually plenty of differences between djembe drums which are worth noting. While, again, it’s easy to think that one djembe is going to look and sound the same as the next, there is actually a fair amount of diversity. Therefore, be prepared to look for drums which have strong online ratings, and which appeal to your own level and style of play.
Here are just a few other essentials you should be looking for in the perfect djembe drums online. Make sure to consider these points before you put any money down!
One of the first things you should look for in a djembe is the size. That’s because the best djembe for you is going to largely depend on how tall you are. Djembes are generally available in sizes as short as 8”, which are ideal for most children up to the age of seven years old. An 11” drum will ideally suit older children, which 12” drums will suit teenagers and adults of between 5’6 and 5’8 in height.
Taller adults should look for djembes between 13” and 16”. This is not a written rule, meaning that the best and most comfortable djembe for your needs may vary. Therefore, again, it may be worth you trying before you buy wherever possible.
As well as the size of your drum, you should also consider the type of djembe you are likely to benefit from. Most modern djembes are artificial, in the sense that they use a variety of materials, alongside a synthetic skin. This is a choice which will likely appeal to those who are looking for animal and environment friendly instruments. They also tend to be fairly lightweight and easy to work with. However, you may end up paying more for these drums.
A traditional wooden djembe is altogether rather different. This is because they are made from natural wood, and some players and musicians may therefore feel they are purchasing percussion of greater quality than a synthetic system. You don’t have to buy a djembe with an animal skin, as some are built with synthetic toppers. These are very robust drums to buy, but they can be quite heavy.
Look and Feel
Of course, many people investing in djembes will want to look for drums which have an authentic build and feel. You can largely get this from traditional, wooden djembes; however, artificial or synthetic systems are becoming more sought-after. This is because composite builds are, on the whole, starting to emulate traditional designs a little more closely.
Ease of Tuning and Use
Yes, there are drums and percussive instruments which will require tuning and adjustment. A djembe is, on the whole, simple enough to tune and modify to get the best sound. However, some people may find that modern or synthetic drums are therefore easier to manage. Certainly, in our collective opinion, we believe it is worth you looking into modern or synthetic drums first, as they may help or work as entry-level percussive instruments before you try anything traditional or classical in design.
Ease of use also translates into ease of portability. For example, traditional wooden djembes can be very heavy and clunky to manage and move around. Therefore, if you are just starting, you might want to purchase a lighter, less traditional drum.
The area in which you strike your djembe – the top skin – should be wide enough in diameter for you to comfortably pat or hit without having to worry about accidentally hitting the edge of the drum. This might end up being quite painful if you are not careful! Drum width and diameter are often what distinguish djembes from one another. Therefore, consider the width of your hand from fingertip to thumb tip, and be sure to account for an inch on either side. This should help you to find a djembe which is comfortable to play.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you have never played a djembe before, it’s likely that you will have a few questions you’d like to ask. But what makes a good djembe? What are other buyers likely to ask? Let’s take a look at a few frequent queries.
How Do You Play the Djembe Drum?
It’s all in the rhythm. A djembe is a hand drum, which means you won’t need much more than a hand or two to start playing. However, to get the most out of a djembe, you should learn where the various noise points are before getting started. As mentioned, we won’t go into much of how to play the djembe here – so do make sure to check out a few online tutorials or to invest in a guide if you are serious about playing for real!
What Are Djembe Drums Made Out Of?
Traditionally, they are made out of wood found in Western Africa. However, there are many modern djembes which do not use wood at all. Traditional djembes may use goat skin for the top of the drum, however, in a day and age where people are wanting to be more animal-friendly, synthetic skins are likely to be commonplace.
How Much Do Djembe Drums Cost?
Djembes can really vary in terms of pricing. That’s because the amount you pay for a traditional or wooden system is likely to cost much more than that which you might expect for a synthetic option. You could buy a starter djembe built in composite material for as little as £20 to £40. However, the best drums on the market will likely demand more than £100, on the whole.
If you are intrigued by djembe drums, then it’s well worth considering learning how to play! Many drums are very affordable, and you’ll find them online in more places now than ever before. Why not use our guide as a starting point?