Congratulations on your new drum! It will bring you years of enjoyment and will stand up to the rigors of schlepping around.
A few points to keep in mind: If your drum was recently made and a new skin was put on as a head, there may be an initial break in period where the skin will stretch. You will notice this if the drum seems lower in pitch or develops a more prominent ring than it normally would have. This break-in period may last up to two months.
During this time you may want to tension the head with the rope by following the method below. We will also do it for you and teach you how to do it yourself for free!
If the surface of the head is rougher than you like, you may sand it down with a VERY FINE steel wool and go lightly. Or, you can simply play your drum and in time, the skin will get smoother. Humid weather definitely makes the pitch lower and any ringing more prominent.
If you wish to enrich the wood, please use karite or 100% pure shea nut butter. And, you can add some real coconut oil. 85/15 is good or just the shea butter. You would massage this into the wood (where there is no rope), applying pressure and your drum will be better protected from the elements. Another way to apply this is melting the shea butter (alone or with coconut oil) in a pan or tin, and using a brush to apply liberally to the drum. You can do the outside and as much of the inside you can get to. This is a product we carry. $10 plus shipping. Or ask us to bring it to your next class! The coconut oil should be taken from a coconut, if possible. It can also be purchased from us at $10.- (Obviously, if your djembe came with a very glossy coating on the wood, the shea oil will not do much as the wood is sealed.) Our drums are NOT made with a poly coating and breathe like a musical instrument should.
Remember that the skin is usually from a goat and that it will have normal imperfections. The head is guaranteed against defects like this for a period of 6 months. Tearing or damage caused by sharp objects, extreme heat or cold, or excessive moisture are NOT covered under the warrantee. The shell (the body of the drum) is warranteed for 1 year against cracking and will be repaired or replaced by us if this would occur. It usually does not and your drum may last a lifetime or more! Small cracks can rarely develop unexpectedly at times. A little wood filler is what is most often used. We can help you with this if needed but feel free to work with your new drum to nurture and play with the skin and the wood. It makes it even more pleasurable to play!
NEVER put any product (oil or cream) on the head no matter who tells you to. Even the BIG- O!, Anyone - just say NO! The skin has fibers that are stretched tight and any emollient may weaken those fibers. The skin on most djembes is GOAT skin and it is thin. Conga drums and dununs usually have a thick skins, like cow, and on that, it would be fine to use a cream and sometimes a very good thing to do.
Try to never keep the drum in a sealed up car on a hot day. If you have to...keep the windows cracked and put a sunshield in the window. Park in a garage or at least under a tree. Better to put it in the trunk, we think. Try to keep the drum out of extreme cold for long periods of time THOUGH the cold is not nearly as damaging as a hot car all shut up like a pizza oven.
Try to keep drum in a dry environment. Humidity and dampness are bad for the head and the wood too. No dramatic climate changes if possible. We have often seen problems with drums kept in a damp basement or stored near the ocean. Do NOT store your drum in a damp basement or near the ocean! Or use a good dehumidifier.
No sharp objects. Do not wear rings or bracelets and most watches when playing! Don’t let a stick and a djembe inhabit the same room where someone may think, “Drum, stick. Hit drum with stick...makes sense.” Don’t invite this from a child or an adult. Kids will pick up a stick and it makes total sense, to them, to hit a drum with it.
THE place where a drum can get hurt is when it is NOT in its case and one walks through a doorway with it. I have a rule: when the drum is transported uncased and I'm going through a doorway, I put the drum IN FRONT of me till I am clear and then put it on my back or side or on it's wheeler. I wheel my drum everywhere with an inexpensive all plastic luggage carrier from Kmart. Honestly, the more years I do this, the drum goes in its case even if just going up or downstairs.
Whether you should store the drum in its case or out of its case is up to you. I have found that djembe stored IN the case, often get into trouble. Mold can grow, bugs can develop. I think it is better to store the drum to the air. If you have animals or kids (same?) you may want to think about how they react to the drums. You can put a towel on the drum to cover it a bit and that protects it a little but lets the instrument breathe.
FYI, to ‘rehead’ a djembe (because the head brakes or has lost it’s sound) costs between $100 -$150 depending on what it needs. (Like new rings, rope or wood repair). If you want special skins to replace with, it can even be more.
Finally, if you do not own a drum case, please consider that protecting your drum is very important and getting a good case is really worth it. We have cases at all price points from $35, $50, $80, $150, and $175. You get what you pay for in the cases as is true with the drum. The only thing here is don't get a case that is going to add 5 lbs to the carrying of the drum! I use an $80 case as do most of TDC teachers. I have had mine for 17 years. Get a case! GET A CASE!
The place a djembe LOVES to be is in the sun on a nice warm or hot day where it won’t get stolen:) Fresh air and warm, direct sunlight seem to bring out the best in a djembe skin. The djembe also LOVES to be played and played with good technique. Consider class or private lessons with a qualified djembe teacher. And check those qualifications. I am recently hearing that some teacher played in African ballets and studied with blah, blah, blah and it's scary to hear about. When a teacher is all about bravado, chances are they are making up for something. A teacher should be able to meet you at your level and clearly and calmly get you to play like them, period! If not, move on.
The life of the djembe skin is extremely variable. I have a great drum with a head that has been on for 7 years and it sounds great! Many people get 5-15 years of good playing out of a skin. Sometimes, people who want their drum to be perfect will replace a head every few years. For a player of my skills and my playing schedule and demands, 2 years is what I average. I have heard of some of the great players reheading their drums every few months! Your mileage may vary.
Tuning: You may not EVER need to tune your drum! But, probably, in a few weeks or a few years, especially during seasonal changes in the Spring and Fall, you may notice a sound change in the skin. Tuning may be needed. Tuning is NOT difficult but it must be learned. Below, I have given you the basics. In a second email, you will get the diagrams and photos that may help you even more. Remember, our DrumConnection team is always around to help you with your tuning needs. Our shop is open 6 days a week to help.
DrumConnection style-self holding knot...and no sit-ups! Over 2; under the second and back between the 2. Up and underneath the first and the second. Makes an 'S'. Allow the free end to slip under the bottom bump of the 'S'. Now, with drum standing on your left (and your left hand on the head to hold it) and rope held firmly in right hand...step on the rope with the instep of your right foot (in shoe). And put your weight on the rope as your leg goes to the ground. Release. If you've done everything right, the two ropes will have flipped over each other. (This is a DrumConnection method).
Some people call this 'Pulling Diamonds' as it makes a lovely diamond shapeas the drum gets pulled even more. It is also called the 'Mali weave' from Mali, WA. This tuning really needs to be learned in person. If you need my help, we should set up an appointment.
Remember, the word 'tuning' usually refers to tightening the djembe to bring the pitch up and get the ring out. If your drum ever sounds 'off' one day, try hitting the top rings with a rubber mallet. This gets the head unstuck from the wood and will make the pitch higher and get rid of that 'funny' sound. Remember that only good things come from drumming :) I often feel a healing when I drum and many have noticed this same occurrence in them.
Share your newly found love of the drum with others. It’s good for everybody and you may get a drum buddy to play with you too!
Thanks for allowing us to help you on the road to drumming. We are here for you if you need us. Drum in the best of health.
"You were born a drummer, you just need to remember."
DrumConnection wants you to remember that money received from our drum sales goes directly by bank wire to Africa to help hundreds of people! Thank you.
To schedule a private lesson, consultation or drum purchase with Alan Tauber, you can do it yourself! Call us at 781-316-8068 - firstname.lastname@example.org
DrumConnection 177 Massachusetts Ave. Arlington, MA 02474 ph: (001) 781-316-8068
Alan's knowledge is vast...
I needed to replace the head on a djembe. I live on the south shore of MA, and was having a hard time finding a place to do the job. I discovered the Drum Connection through a list serve and found the best resource I could hope for. Alan's knowledge is vast, and the service was done professionally, on time, and at a reasonable price. I do not need to look any further for my hand drumming needs.
It is a privilege to know you...
You play such an important part in drumming education in this country. It is a privilege to know you...
Name withheld upon request. (but a famous dude in percussion).
Great Local Place, Great Stuff, Nice People
Bought a present for a friend and they had just what I wanted. They helped me pick the right one. Weren't pushy. Really nice vibe. Will definitely go back when I need a drum or a present for someone.
5/16/2016 5.0 stars! Yelp!
DrumConnection is great! Excellent teachers, extremely high quality guest drummers from Africa, and female teachers and leaders.
5/15/2016 5.0 stars!
At DrumConnection, I began my beginners' class feeling lost and insecure. However, while the drum is quite challenging, I have felt more and more connected to the group thanks to the wonderful teachers, and the kindness and acceptance of other drummers.
In other words I am deeply indebted and grateful for the opportunity to expand my skills, horizons, and sense of belonging thanks to the drum. The ongoing learning experience is challenging, exhilarating and humbling.
Thank you Alan, Thierno, Audrey, Issa and Moussa, and thank you to all my fellow students!
5/13/2016 5.0 stars!
Thanks so much. Tuned up my kids drum, very knowledgeable and friendly!
4/28/2016 5.0 stars!
Love DrumConnection in Arlington!
Great teachers including the Masters from West Africa; great drums (all kinds) and accessories. Director and owner, Alan, is an excellent drummer himself, friends to all and always willing to share his knowledge. Classes & Workshops at all levels challenging and tons of fun. Serious drumming going on here!
4/27/2016 5.0 stars!
Knowledgeable, and very helpful.
I watched Alan help a gentleman trying to rent an accordion. Yes, this sounds like a Seinfeld script, but it was touching seeing Alan help someone out. Additionally, the store is well supplied, and the prices are quote reasonable for being able to get your hands on what you need right now. Truly, an asset to the community!
Brian C. J.
April 9, 2016, 1:47 p.m.
Friends cannot believe how light it is and how good it sounds. Easy for me to carry. It is also very nice looking, not ornate, just beautiful wooden swirls. Thanks for all your help on this..... kdl
4/10/16 ; 5 Stars
I have spent several wonderful weekends at DrumConnection studying drumming rhythms with various master drummers (djembefolas) and I just want to thank Alan and the wonderful community of people I met at there for a wonderful, fun, inspiring and informative time. If I didn't live on Long Island, NY I would be there every week. 5 star rating from me!
Long Island, NY
2/24/2016 : 5 Stars!
DrumConnection is a wonderful place. Alan is so helpful, thoughtful and kind. The store has a great selection of drums that will help you connect to music from all over the world. Highly recommended!
Jan. 16, 2016 : 5 Stars!
Great experience, no pressure to buy or spend more than I wanted to, just the perfect assistance to help me find the right drum for me - a clear joy for drumming and very welcoming - made me feel right at home.
12/22/2015 : 5 Stars!
A great little store
I was looking for some nifty percussion accessories for my son-in-law and I really didn't want to go the the Guitar Center. What a great place! I got great advice & was able to find exactly the kind of stuff I was looking for! A perfect shopping trip & well worth the weekly trip down from Cape Ann!
Cape Ann, MA
5.0 star rating 12/6/2015 Yelp!
I took a beginner drum class here this fall. I was impressed by the business's connection to West African drumming. Thierno, a drummer from Guinea, was our teacher. If you want to learn drumming, have a weekly class with lots of laughing and meet people from around the world this place is for you.
5.0 Star Rating 12/4/15 Google+
Alan the owner is always friendly and helpful. When I was looking for a drum, he chose 4 drums he thought I might like, each unique. He helped me sort out the differences to find the combination of pluses that added up to the perfect drum for me.
Alan the teacher is a non-judgmental, supportive, and clear instructor whose decades of experience and amazing skill as a drummer combine to provide a safe and inspiring learning environment. I've studied with four other DrumConnection instructors and each is excellent in his or her own ways, and all certified by examination.
A great store and a wonderful school. I recommend it without reservations.
11/15/2015 5.0 Yelp!
The beginner drum class was extra special. Taught by Thierno Keita-what a wonderful escape each week from the work-a-day world into a world of rhythm and movement. Great for the brain and the soul. Alan Tauber, who runs the Drum Connection could not be kinder or more devoted to his art. This has been a postive turn for me and I will continue on this road with pleasure.
5.0 star rating 11/11/2015
DrumConnection is an nook of musical magic on Mass Ave in Arlington. The drumming teachers are from Africa, they sponsor workshops and trips to Africa to learn drumming. Alan the owner is very flexible and understanding with scheduling lessons. The drum selection is fantastic!! I recommend it to everyone I know. What a gem!
5.0 star rating 11/9/2015 Yelp!
Broad selection of percussion instruments from all over the world. Alan, the owner, really knows a lot about the instruments and the music they make.
5.0 star rating 11/7/2015 Yelp!
We have purchased many instruments from Alan. He knows so much about percussion instruments that we trust him with ordering sight unseen and have been pleased with our purchases. Prices are very reasonable. We drive 2 hours each way to shop at the Drum Connection and it is worth it.
5.0 star rating 11/6/2015 Yelp!
You will not find a more beautiful person than Alan to assit you with your journey of learning the drums. I have traveled with Alan to Guinea, purchased various drums, and attended numerous classes. Have not been able to find the joy I felt when I was involved with the Drum Connection. Please open a southern location!
5.0 star rating 10/5/2015 Yelp!
The drum I purchased from Alan several years ago is both beautiful and is a joy to use. The classes are fantastic -- designed for all skills levels and taught by master teachers that are knowledgeable and exciting.
They are patient and know how to break rhythms down to bite size. I have enrolled my 4 year old in the children's drum class and it is dynamic -- teaching movement and African songs. She loves it and loves her teachers."
5.0 star rating 10/19/2015 Yelp!
The Best! Thanks!
Purchased my djembe here a few years ago, just bought new skin, Alan and staff always knowledgeable and helpful.
5.0 star rating 8/29/2015 Yelp!
I am new to drumming and am having a ball. I went to a Sunday night lecture and lesson on one type of drums and followed that with 2 Sunday night drumming circles with an excellent teacher-but not at the rank beginner level. Still, I loved it and just tried to follow and keep up.
Now I am in a beginner class and I am still enjoying every minute. Alan is a kind and welcoming person. He coordinates to bring in a variety of excellent teachers and classes take place most every day of the week. He gives great advice about what to purchase and has rentals available. Come join the fun!
5.0 star rating 8/24/2015 Yelp!
This is a great little shop. Alan was able to rent me some drums for my autism caregivers retreat and was very accommodating. The drums were gorgeous, beautiful sound. Our group had a great time thanks to Drum Connection coming through at the last minute for me. Thank you!
June 25, 2015
5.0 star rating Excellent Teaching!
This is the first time I took drum lessons. I have taken piano lessons off and on for years. I really enjoy playing the drums. I had two teachers. They both had their individual style of teaching. I found that Alan is an excellent teacher. I would recommend anyone with a desire to learn drumming to check out DrumConnection. I haven't gone to their drum circle yet, but that's the next step for me. I am finishing up my first six weeks of classes, two more classes to go.
August 4, 2015
5.0 star rating 8/4/2015 Yelp!
I'm new to the djembe and drum circles in general. The drum circle I attended last week was a blast. Very relaxed and friendly, the drumming was amazing. Alan and Fanta were both very warm and welcoming. As others have noted, great energy. I'm definitely going back.
July 6, 2015
5.0 star rating Incredible Drums!
I returned to the store today to purchase my first djembe. Alan was more than helpful. He gave a mini-lesson on the spot so I would know how to evaluate the variety of drums, their tonal differences, etc. He also played several of them for me to have a better impression of what it sounds like once technique is mastered. The drum I finally settled on is incredible, love it. My wife was looking for a bodhran, and he gave demonstrations of those as well!
July 8, 2015
Way better than 5 stars!
Alan clearly loves what he is doing and it shows in the friendly, professional and deeply knowledgeable service. Way better than 5 stars.
June 10, 2015
Alan was so helpful. He came highly recommended, and lived up to it. I got a wonderful drum for my nephew - have not yet given it to him, but he is going to love it.
April 8, 2015
Five stars all the way!
Honestly, I can't say enough good things about DrumConnection. Alan and John helped me pick out the perfect drum, and when I came in tonight, Alan talked with me for at least an hour about technique, the history of the djembe coming to America, and more. The place is warm and inviting, and the people who work there are the same. I am confident I chose the best place to start my drumming journey, and I will be back for their classes! Five stars all the way!
March 7, 2015
My son is now starting drum lessons. We stopped in to purchase a drum pad and drum sticks. This is an amazing store. There is much to learn about choosing an instrument that suits you...and we were encouraged not to rush in and spend a lot of money at this stage. The store is packed with drums (mostly hand drums) and each visitor is encouraged to try out items that spark their interest. While visiting, my son tried several thumb pianos as well.
Fanta lead our group of 21 drummers thru two hours of song, dance, and drumming. Everybody was smiling at the end of the evening. What a deal for 10 bucks!
February 24, 2015
Drum Connection is a fantastic place to take African drumming lessons, meet some wonderful people and really expand your horizons by attending workshops with master drummers from West Africa. It's been a life changing experience for me. I am so blessed to part of Alan and Fanta's community.
February 13, 2015
As always Alan was right there to make sure I got exactly what I was looking for. He even sent me a photo/text to confirm that he had the correct size, shape and sound of rattle I needed. This was that perfect combination of personal service and immediate results.
February 5, 2015
Hey just wanted to write you a note to tell you how much I absolutely love the drum! It was the perfect choice for me. The slaps are just incredible and yet it gives good bass response. I brought it to work to play with the children and it was just such the perfect instrument. It’s just the right one for me and I'm really thrilled with it. Thanks so much.
January 24, 2015
Thanks Alan for your undivided attention today as I purchased the replacement head for the djembe I had previously bought at DrumConnection. Could not be more satisfied!