The Drum Doctor - Hand drum repair, maintenance and restoration

Djembe (Jembe) Repair


Rope-tuned, African djembe drum.

African djembes are strong, durable drums. A good djembe will last a lifetime, but they need care, and sooner or later they need repair.

In order for djembes to produce the sharp, clear, bright tones and slaps they're so famous for, the drum head must be pulled extremely tight. The extreme tension the skin endures puts it under constant stress.

Eventually, the skin will no longer resist the stress and it will tear.

When this happens, it might be tempting to replace the drum.


Do not throw your money away!

Repair your djembe!

We specialize in djembe drum head replacement, tuning and restoration. Whether you want thick or thin, shaved or harry, we'll find the perfect goat skin for your hand drum and reskin it to perfection.

So you see, there's no need to buy a new drum. Contact The Drum Doctor Now! . . . and save your money.

Maybe you're a master djembefola and want a cow skin mounted on your instrument and pulled so tight it hums on its own.

No problem! Tell us your needs, and we'll satisfy them.

You decide if you want to reskin your djembe with thin, medium, thick or extra thick goatskin. We use only the finest African goatskins, so you know you'll be getting the highest quality available. You want cowskin? Of course! Want to be different and go with buffalo or even deerskin? You got it!

You also have choices when it comes to the thickness and color of the rope. We use the highest quality nylon djembe rope with a polyester core in various thicknesses: 3mm, 4mm, 4.5mm and 5mm. Choose between up to 15 different colors. Be creative and mix them to match your flag or favorite team. One color for the crown, another for the bottom ring and a third for the verticals. Any combination that strikes your fancy.

And of course, you always have the option of supplying all the materials for your djembe repair project, and we'll do the rest.

We routinely rebuild djembes from scratch. We'll recondition the drum shell, repairing any cracks and flaws such as a chipped or uneven bearing edge, have new rings made, wrap them with cloth and rope them; and, of course, install new tuning rope and re-head the drum.


Djembe repair is what we do!


In a matter of days and at minimal cost, you can again enjoy the emotional and creative self-expression that only djembe drumming provides, not to mention the fellowship. (Look below for examples of what you can expect from our djembe repair experts.)

So why buy a new djembe, when our loving care will make your beloved old friend better than new? For a no obligation, free consultation call us at (831) 428-6626, send us an email or fill out a contact form.

We're located in Santa Cruz, CA, easiliy accesible to anyone in the San Francisco Bay Area, San Jose/Silicon Valley and Monterey Bay, but don't worry if you're not in our neck of the woods; we have years of shipping experience. Many of our clients ship their ailing African drums to us, and we return their restored djembes by whatever means they choose.

And remember, djembe repair is not all we do. We're fully qualified to treat other hand drums and ethnic instruments such as koras and balafons--just ask!


Con mucho gusto hablamos Español!

On Duty: Dr. Tom (The Drum Doctor)


Venerable African Djembe Restored


This old djembe has seen better days.


Djembe in need of a lot of attention. African djembe hand drum that needs to be completely restored. Djembe that needs new skin and rope and needs work on the shell and rings.








The skin has blown up, the shell is very old and dry, the rope is old, worn and brittle and, as we'll see, there are other troubling issues.


Djembe shell with a poorly shaped bearing edge.

For one thing, the bearing edge is poorly shaped and like a roller coaster.


Djembe crown rings crusted with rust. Rusty bottom ring of an African djembe.

For another, the rust on the rings is so extensive that it's dissolved most of the cloth that once covered them.


We'll have to give these rings a good scrubbing and rewrap them.


Djembe bearing edge that's been levelled and reshaped.

And the bearing edge is levelled, shaped and smoothed.



African djembe that's been fully restored. Djembe with a fresh skin, new rope, oiled shell and reconditioned rings. An African djembe hand drum better than new.

We also gave the shell several applications of nourishing oil. Notice the cheery luster compared to the before pictures above.





Complete Restoration Of Gambian Djembe


Here's a djembe that need a lot of help.


Djembe hand drum from Gambia, Africa needing a skin. Djembe from Mali, Gambia with a torn drum head. African djembe from Gambia with a ripped drum head. African djembe from Gambia with a ripped drum head. Djembe from Gambia, Africa with a ripped drum head.








In addition to needing a fresh goat skin, all the rope needs to be replaced. We know from experience that this rope is made with substandard materials and won't hold up to the stress we're going to impose on it in order to get the new drum head up to pitch.


Djembe hand drum from Gambia, Africa needing a skin. Djembe from Mali, Gambia with a torn drum head.

On top of that, the bearing edge is rough, poorly shaped and not level.



Djembe hand drum from Gambia, Africa needing a skin.

So the first thing we do is level, reshape and smooth the bearing edge. While we're at it, we seal some minor cracks and give the shell a good cleaning and oiling. The improvement is dramatic.



Once we replace the rope on the crown and bottom ring, we're ready to mount the fresh goat skin.


Djembe hand drum from Gambia, Africa needing a skin. Djembe hand drum from Gambia, Africa needing a skin. African djembe from Gambia with a ripped drum head. Djembe from Gambia, Africa with a ripped drum head. Djembe from Gambia, Africa with a ripped drum head.








As we already mentioned, the improvement is dramatic.


Gambian Djembe Brought Back From The Dead


Megan brought back four djembes from Gambia, and they all now needed skinning. Of the four this one required the most attention. You can't get a good look at it yet, but there's a large chunk of shell splintering away.


Djembe hand drum from Gambia, Africa needing a skin. Djembe from Mali, Gambia with a torn drum head. African djembe from Gambia with a ripped drum head. African djembe from Gambia with a ripped drum head. Djembe from Gambia, Africa with a ripped drum head.








Djembe hand drum from Gambia, Africa needing a skin. Djembe from Mali, Gambia with a torn drum head. African djembe from Gambia with a ripped drum head.




Here's a good look at that splinter. Did we say splinter? It's as big as a skull cap! Right at the bearing edge, the damage runs through the shell.



The drum shell also suffered from many hairline cracks on the bowl and a crack so large on the base that a good chunk had broken away. The damage on this shell is so extensive that Megan asked us to just let it rest in peace.


Djembe hand drum from Gambia, Africa needing a skin.

But we knew there was plenty of life left in that djembe and had already begun emergency repair.



Djembe hand drum from Gambia, Africa needing a skin.


We thoroughly sealed all the hairline cracks - about a dozen in all.



Djembe hand drum from Gambia, Africa needing a skin. Djembe hand drum from Gambia, Africa needing a skin.


As well as the large crack at the base of the shell.





Once the shell had been fully restored, we were able to mount a beautiful goat skin of medium thickness.


Djembe hand drum from Gambia, Africa needing a skin. Djembe from Mali, Gambia with a torn drum head. African djembe from Gambia with a ripped drum head. African djembe from Gambia with a ripped drum head. Djembe from Gambia, Africa with a ripped drum head.








This djembe is not only fully recovered, it's ready to take the lead!


A New Drum Head For Adam's Djembe


Brad's son, Adam, has a birthday coming up, so Brad thought getting Adam's djembe repaired would be a great surprise to spring on him! Brad and Adam are both musicians. He snuck the djembe out of Adam's house and shipped it to Dr. Tom.


Djembe hand drum from Mali, Africa needing a skin. Djembe from Mali, Africa with a torn drum head. African djembe from Mali with a ripped drum head. African djembe from Mali with a ripped drum head. Djembe from Mali, Africa with a ripped drum head.







We immediately recognized the drum. The wood, rope and workmanship all served as signatures for Kangaba Percussion of Mali, Africa. We've repaired quite a few of these djembes, so we had a good idea of what to expect.

These drums are generally quite well built, but we gave it a complete examination to make sure all components were drum worthy - and they were, so we proceeded with the head replacement.


Djembe hand drum from Mali, Africa needing a skin. Djembe from Mali, Africa with a torn drum head. African djembe from Mali with a ripped drum head. African djembe from Mali with a ripped drum head. Djembe from Mali, Africa with a ripped drum head.



Great results! Brad can't wait to see his son's face when he hears his drum singing again.


Great job Dr Tom! Thank you! I played the drum a little and . . . the sound is really superb and has tons of different tones. Again, thank you. My son will be very pleased when I can give him back his beloved drum better than new!

Brad Smith (Fairfield, CA)


Resucitation Of LaVonne's Djembe



African djembe hand drum needing a skin. African djembe with a torn drum head. African djembe with a ripped drum head.

LaVonne's djembe drum head has suffered an untimely death. It seems that someone took out her frustration on the innocent djembe with a baseball bat.




Rather than dwelling on the unseemly details of the drum's demise, let's focus on the heartening tale of the victims complete recuperation.

After a complete examination, it's determined that the drum shell is intact and needs only to have its bearing edge levelled and refinished. The rope is also on the thin side and showing clear signs of wear and tear, so we're going to replace it.


A rusted djembe flesh ring with sharp protrusions. A rusted djembe flesh ring with spikes.

We also find that the flesh ring is rusted and has some welding remnants that are sharp and could damage the fresh goat skin we plan to mount upon it.


So the bearing edge is levelled and sanded smooth, the flesh ring is cleaned and filed smooth then covered to prevent direct contact with the skin, and the rope is replaced. Love's djembe is ready for a fresh goat skin drum head.


African djembe hand drum with a fresh goat skin drum head. African djembe with a new drum head. African djembe hand drum with a fresh goatskin drumhead.


Love and her djembe's ordeal was finally over, and they were happily reunited.





I just want to say, you do beautiful work. From the way she sounds, now I realize she was never, ever tuned correctly before, I just never knew. She sounds amazing!! Thank you, thank you so very much. It's good to have her back, better than before. . . . Thanks again!!

LaVonne (Lake County, CA)


Stave Djembe Gets A New Drum Head


Paul gave his son a beautiful stave djembe that recently blew its top. Naturally, Paul brought the ailing hand drum to The Drum Doctor to have it repaired.


Stave djembe hand drum needing a skin. Stave djembe with a torn goat skin drum head. Stave djembe with a torn goat skin drum head. Stave djembe with a ripped goat skin drum head.








The drum shell is flawless except for a couple of inconsequential scratches, the rope is in great shape and the rings are perfect. All that's needed is to find the perfect goat skin to transplant onto the patient.


Stave djembe with a fresh goat skin drum head. Stave djembe with a new goatskin drumhead. Stave djembe sporting a new goat skin drum head. Stave djembe wearing a fresh goatskin drumhead.








We found the perfect goat skin and mounted it without a hitch.

Paul can't wait to get this baby back in his son's hands.


Bob's Djembe Gets A New Drum Head


Bob has a beautiful, Lenke wood djembe just aching for a fresh, juicy goatskin.


Djembe hand drum needing a skin. Djembe with a torn goat skin drum head. Djembe with a torn goat skin drum head. African djembe with a ripped goat skin drum head.








She's looking a little the worse for the wear, but don't worry folks - there's a lot of good drumming left in her.

Bob decides to use the rope one more time, and the rings and shell are in drum-worthy condition - except for one detail.


The very rough bearing edge of an African djembe.

The bearing edge is pretty rough.


The bearing edge of an African djembe that's been shaped and smoothed.

Looks much better after the edge is sanded into shape and the shell is thoroughly cleaned and oiled.


Now we jus need that juicy skin.


Djembe with a fresh goat skin drum head. African djembe with a new goatskin drumhead. Djembe sporting a new goat skin drum head. African djembe wearing a fresh goatskin drumhead.








That's the one!


Repair of Kevin's Stave Djembe


Kevin's djembe has two very obvious features. First, it's a stave djembe rather than a carved djembe. Second, it's tuned by twisting the rope with tuning pegs.


Stave djembe hand drum needing a skin. Stave djembe with a torn drum head. Stave djembe with a torn drum head. Stave djembe hand drum with a torn skin.

Another "feature", also found in the more traditional djembes, is that it needs to be re-skinned periodically.




As with any djembe, we immediately give the patient a thorough examination. Only after ensuring that the drum shell, rings and rope are in the best possible condition, do we proceed with the delicate operation of a complete drum head transplant.


Djembe hand drum with a fresh skin. African djembe with a new drum head. African djembe with a fresh drum head. Djembe hand drum with a new skin.

The operation was a complete success, and the patient is feeling (and sounding) better than ever.




I picked up the drum today and it sounds and looks great - the bass is clear and I love the tone - you've turned it into a one-of-a-kind instrument. . . . Aloha!

Kevin (Honolulu, HI)


Animal's Djembe


Djembe hand drum needing a skin. African djembe with a torn drum head. African djembe with a torn drum head. Djembe hand drum with a torn skin.

Animal is a professional musician, so his/r instruments mean a lot to him/r.

Obviously, this would not do.


S/he entrusted his/r djembe to The Drum Doctor with specific instructions to put a head on it that would deliver crystal clear tones and bullet slaps, yet still have that deep soulful base only a djmebe can utter.


African djembe drum shell.

Unlike many of The Drum Doctor's patients, this drum had no issues other than the obvious. The rope, rings and shell were all in fine shape. All we had to do was give the shell a good cleaning and a thorough oiling, and the drum was ready for its fresh goat skin.



Here's an interesting point. Full-sized djembes tend to require a whole goat skin to head. But we found a skin with unusually large haunches, and one of the haunches was just large enough to do the job. This gave us a great medium-thick skin with as consistent a thickness as you could ask for. This drum head has no spine.


Djembe hand drum with a fresh skin. African djembe with a new drum head. African djembe with a fresh drum head. Djembe hand drum with a new skin.

Click on the thumbnails and take a good look. No spine. That's a haunch!




The results were exceptional!

Crystal clear tones. Bullet slaps. And a base as deep and soulful as you could ask for. Animal Prufrock got what s/he asked for.

ITS PERFECT!!!!!!!!!

I am so thrilled. There is a whole symphony of tones I'm pulling out of there!

Can't stop playing it!

Animal Prufrock (San Francisco)



Djembe Rehead With Folded Over Skin


Djembe hand drum needing a skin. African djembe with a missing drum head. African djembe with a ripped out drum head. Djembe hand drum with a torn skin.


Here's a djembe that's going straight to intensive care.





Beside needing a good skin, the shell has completely dried out and has some serious cracks.


Large crack on the shell of an African djembe hand drum. A look from the inside at a large crack on the shell of an African djembe hand drum.

This gaping crack runs virtually the entire length of the trumpet. After consulting with the owner, we determine that this is the result of the woods natural tendency to expand and not due to having been dropped or crushed. Therefore, we're going to fill the gap rather than try to bond the wood back together again.



A look from inside the bowl at a long, thin crack on the shell of an African djembe hand drum. A look from inside the trumpet at a long, thin crack on the shell of an African djembe hand drum. Long, thin crack on the shell of an African djembe hand drum.

Here's another crack that many people would not even notice. But take an inside look at it from above and below. If you look really closely you'll see daylight through that crack. It must be sealed.



So we take a few days to nurse the shell back to health. The cracks are completely sealed, the shell is thoroughly cleaned and several applications of oil are administered.

Only after all the components are in drum-worthy shape do we mount the fresh goat skin. In this case, we decide to use the fold over rather than circumcision.


Djembe hand drum needing a skin. African djembe with a missing drum head. African djembe with a ripped out drum head. Djembe hand drum with a torn skin.

The results speak for themselves.






Another Djembe Repaired


An African djembe hand drum with a torn goat skin drum head. African djembe with a ripped drum head. African djembe hand drum that needs to be reheaded.


Lucy's djembe is a fairly typical case - the goat skin drum head has ripped.





What's not so typical is that no complications presented themselves as we repaired this drum. The shell had no cracks, the rope was intact and the rings were in good shape. The treatment was straight forward - replace the goat skin drum head.


African djembe with a ripped drum head. African djembe with a ripped drum head. African djembe with a ripped drum head.










Lucy was thrilled to have her djembe back and better than ever!






Djembe Restoration


Djembe hand drum with a torn skin. African djembe with a split head. Djembe hand drum.

Suzanne is an artist from San Francisco who loves her drum, so when the skin on her djembe ripped she naturally turned to The Drum Doctor for help.

Beside the ruined drumhead, Suzanne was also concerned about a crack on the neck of her drum she was afraid might develop into a more serious problem.


As we'll see, her concerns were well founded. In fact, the integrity of the drum shell was severely compromised and needed repair before we even though of mounting a fresh skin on it.


African djembe hand drum. African djembe hand drum. African djembe hand drum.

Let's take a look at how this damaged hand drum was transformed from the ailing patient seen in the previous images to the whole and healthy drum we see here.




A crack on the neck of a djembe drum shell.

The crack was just below the bowl. Quite long, though not wide.

It turned out, however, that this crack was the result of a knot that ran from the inner base of the bowl downward along the neck. The visible crack on the outside of the shell had a wider, though shorter, counterpart on the inside. In other words, this crack ran through and through and seriously compromised the integrity of the shell.

Imagine trying to sing with a slit cut along your neck!


Gaping slit on the inside of a djembe drum shell. A knot at the base of the inner bowl of a djmebe drum shell.

Here's a look at the knot at the base of the bowl and the gaping slit on the inside. This demanded immediate attention.




But this was not all. If you revisit the 'after' pictures above, you'll see through the rope a large knot on the bowl of the shell. This knot also ran through the entire thickness of the shell and also compromised it's integrity.

A large knot on bowl of a djmebe drum shell. A knot on the inside of the bowl of a djmebe drum shell.

Imagine trying to sing with punctures in your cheek!

Here's a look at the knot both from without and within.



These leaks had to be sealed in order to make this djembe really sing. So that's what we did. Slowly and patiently.

Once the shell was fully intact, we mounted a fresh, beautiful, medium-thick goatskin and tuned it just so. Suzanne was thrilled with her new drum and had this to say:

My djembe arrived safe and sound on Tuesday afternoon, and I have been testing its sounds in brief periods since then, greatly enjoying all the work that you did to improve it. No complaints whatsoever, only praises! The rope handle is a wonderful, unexpected addition, too. The whole drum is perfect for me now . . I love its sounds and vibrations . . .

Thank you again for taking such good care of my djembe. It's reassuring to know that you are there to help in the future as well. I'll gladly recommend you to other drummers . . .

Suzanne (San Francisco, CA)


Djembe Rehead


Djembe hand drum. African djembe hand drum.

Craig brought this beautiful djembe to The Drum Doctor for a good tuning. It just didn't sound right anymore.

With a 14 1/2" head and standing 25" tall, this dark beauty is a giant among djembes. At first glance, the only criticism we might have of this drum is that the crown is sitting too far below the bearing edge and that the shell needs a good cleaning and oiling.



Upon close inspection, however, we discover the real reason this djembe has lost its voice.


Small tear on the skin of an African djembe hand drum.

The drum head is tearing at the seams, and no amount of tuning will restore this djembe's voice again. In fact, any attempt to tune it, will only result in further damage. The drum head must be replaced.


A fresh goat skin, shaved and mounted on an African djembe hand drum.

We disassembled the drum and cleaned and oiled the shell thoroughly. We found the perfect medium-thick hairy goat skin, which we mounted then shaved. Looks good, doesn't it? The weather was cooperative, so we were able to tune it after only five days of drying time.


Djembe hand drum with a fresh skin. African djembe hand drum with a new drum head. African djembe hand drum with a fresh drum skin.



                        Feast your eyes.





Twin Djembe Drums Repaired


Synchronicity is a fact of life. Now, you might wonder why a website dedicated to world hand drums and their repair has taken such a philosophical turn. Well, stay with us and you'll see.


Djembe drum with a split skin. Close up of the split skin of a djembe drum.

Some time back, Dr. Tom gave his brother, Robert, a nice African jembe as a birthday gift, and the skin on that drum recently popped on him. Naturally, Robert came to Dr. Tom for help. Here's a look at the damage. So far, nothing to get philosophical about, right? (By the bye, the crayon marks on the head are courtesy of Dr. Tom's favorite granddaughter. Turns out Uncle Robert doesn't appreciate art as much as others.)


So far, nothing to get philosophical about, right? (By the bye, the crayon marks on the head are courtesy of Dr. Tom's favorite granddaughter. Turns out Uncle Robert doesn't appreciate art as much as others.)

The thing is that the very next day, Dr. Tom got a call from a client that also needed a djembe re-headed.


Close up of the split skin of a djembe drum. Djembe drum with a split skin.

Big deal! Djembes blow their tops every day of the week, right? Of course they do, especially when they're left in hot closets and cars for extended periods.

But take a close look at the client's djembe. Notice anything? Take a really close look, top to bottom. Now go back and take a really close look at Robert's djembe. Notice anything yet? OK, maybe it'll help if we strip these baby's down to the bare shells.


Two djembe shells, side by side.

Now take a close look at them. Notice the very simple and identical design carved at the base of each shell. Also notice that each shell has a ledge carved at the bottom of the bowl that helps keep the bottom ring in place. It's probably difficult to tell from pictures, but another thing they have in common is that they're made from the same type of wood - not necessarily the same tree, but who knows?


These drums are sisters! Made by the same drum maker. And these sisters, each belonging to a different owner, blew their tops and ended up at The Drum Doctor's at the exact same time!

Synchronicity. Downright spooky.

OK, let's stop scaring the children and get to work.


Close up of djembe ring loops. Close up of djembe crown loops.

The rope on both these drums is frayed but probably in good enough shape that it can be reused. The problem is that the crowns and bottom rings are poorly knotted.


Close up of djembe ring loops. Close up of djembe crown loops.

Notice that the knots are unevenly spaced and that the loops are all of varying lengths. As mentioned in an earlier project, asymmetrical ring knots translate to asymmetrical verticals.


We're going to go ahead and replace all the rope. By the way, these views give you a good look at the ledges carved at the bottom of the bowls.

Now for a really special treat. The Drum Doctor is about to introduce an innovation that will greatly improve djembe crowns in several ways. You are about to witness history in the making.

Drum rolls and blaring trumpet calls!


Close up of djembe crown with two sets of staggered loops. Djembe crown with two sets of staggered loops.

We are going to use two sets of loops, one set on top of the other and staggered, thus greatly increasing the strength of the crown. We also more than double the amount of contact on the skin, thereby greatly reducing the risk of slippage; and, to put icing on the cake, it looks great!


As it turns out, Robert decided to go with cow skin because he'd recently heard the stave djembe of an earlier project that we'd re-headed with cow skin and had loved its sound. The other client chose to stick with goat skin.


A round of hairy cow skin. A hairy goat skin.

As you can see, hairy goat skins are generally bought whole, while cow skins come in rounds, since an entire cow hide could skin several djembes.



What we do is cut the excess from the goatskin so that we end up with a round similar to our cow skin round. We then plug some holes around the perimeter of the skin and soak it in water until it becomes soft and workable. Once we're ready to mount the skin, we temporarily mount it on the flesh ring by weaving rope through the holes we've plugged. This keeps the skin in place during the early stages and assures that we have the right tension on it to begin with.

The skin is mounted on the drum and gradually tightened. When we're done with the wet-pull, the skin is at about 80% the tightness it'll be when we're completely done.


A hairy goat skin mounted on djembe. Djembe goat skin with excess skin removed.

Temporarily mounting the skin on the flesh ring ensured that the rings remain level and don't drop too far below the bearing edge when we tighten. The djembe is then circumcized, and the skin is shaved and allowed to dry for several days.




Close up of innovative djembe crown. Close up of shaved djembe drum head.

Here's a look at the shaved goatskin and the innovative crown.




African djembe hand drum. Djembe drum head. African djembe hand drum. Djembe drum head.

And a look at each sister in all her splendor. Notice the difference in their skins. If you look closely, you'll see that it's not only appearance that sets them apart. The cow skin is much thicker than the goat skin, which gives these drums completely different voices.



Two African djembe hand drums.



                                Now can you tell they're related?






Djembe Head Replacement


Djembe hand drum with duct tape on the head. African djembe hand drum with a torn drum head taped up. Djembe hand drum with duct tape on the head. African djembe hand drum with a torn drum head taped up.

Joel is a fine drummer, but, as you can see, he's just not a drum repair technician. The duct tape didn't only fail to work; it created more work when all the gunk left behind by the tape had to be removed.

With a 13" head and standing 25" tall, this beautiful drum deserves better treatment.

As always, we give the drum a thorough inspection before beginning any work on it.


A crack at the base of djembe hand drum. Inside view of the same crack on the djembe. Another crack at the base of a djembe hand drum. Inside view of the crack on the djembe.

What we find is that the drum shell has sustained serious damage - probably as a result of the nails that were driven into it. Two sizeable cracks that run through the shell must be sealed before the work of replacing the drum head can begin.


Once the tape residue has been completely removed and the cracks completely sealed, we give the djembe shell a thorough cleaning and oiling.

Two lessons to be learned from this project: 1) Do not apply duct tape to a torn drum head - it not only doesn't work, the residue left behind might have to be removed with chemicals you'd much rather not apply to your drum. 2) Never, ever, ever drive nails into your djembe, as much damage to the shell can result.


Djembe hand drum with a nice, thick goatskin drum head.



Now we can mount a beautiful African goat skin on this baby.

Would you say it was worth the effort?













African djembe hand drum sporting a new drum head.                And so we have gone from this - to this. African djembe hand drum sporting a new drum head.









Jembe Reskin


Djembe hand drum that needs the head replaced. African djembe hand drum with a torn drum head. African jembe drum with a ripped drum head. Bown out djembe drum head.

John has gotten all he can from this drum head. It's time to replace it.




Once we disassemble the hand drum, we notice a couple of things.


Rusty djembe crown ring. Close up of a rusty djembe crown ring.

The first thing is that the crown ring is rusty and probably contributed to, if not caused the deterioration of the skin.


African djembe hand drum sporting a new drum head.

The other is that this is one of the most perfectly proportioned, symmetrical drum shells we've ever seen. Check it out once we've cleaned an oiled it.




African djembe hand drum sporting a new drum head.

If you look really closely you'll notice that the bowl flares outward from the bearing edge for several inches before it begins to narrow. This means that with tight fitting rings we need to make sure the drum head comes into tune before it jams up on the shell as it gets pulled lower and lower.



Wrapped djembe crown ring .


So we clean up the ring and wrap it to keep any rust off the skin.






Djembe hand drum that needs the head replaced. African djembe hand drum with a torn drum head. African jembe drum with a ripped drum head. Blown out djembe drum head.


And we mount the perfect goat skin! Check it out!




Indonesian Djembe Repair


Djembe hand drum that needs the head replaced. African djembe hand drum with a torn drum head. African jembe drum with a ripped drum head.

Those of you familiar with Indonesian djembes would probably not recognize this djembe as Indonesian - except for the rope.




The shell is hand-carved from good, hard wood, which does not coincide with the machined, soft wood shells much more typical of drums from Indonesia. We should also mention that this is a medium size djembe (under 10").

We gave this nice shell a thorough cleaning and oiling. The shell was really thirsty and soaked up quite a bit of oil. Compare the before and after pictures and see how the wood has cheered up.

In fact, the whole drum has cheered up and sings, sings, sings!


Bali djembe with a fresh goat skin.

Just got my drum...wow! It is singing again! So fun.

Thanks Doc! and thanks for the speedy delivery :)

Sri Odom (Kensington, CA)



African Djembe Drum Head Replacement


Djembe hand drum that needs the head replaced. African djembe hand drum with a torn drum head. African jembe drum with a ripped drum head.

Steve loves his djembe and had a hard time finding someone to reskin his old friend. When he finally found The Drum Doctor, he was happy to make the 45 minute drive.



The shell is carved from decent wood - not the most dense or hardest wood available, but good enough to make a fine djembe as long as it's well carved. And this is well carved. Notice the extra long trumpet. An experienced eye will immediately expect a spectacular bass from this baby.

As usual we give the shell a thorough inspection before mounting the skin.


A crack on the outside of a djembe shell. A crack on the inside of a djembe shell. Another crack on the outside of a djembe drum shell. Another crack on the inside of a djembe drum shell.

What we find is a couple of cracks, one of which is the result of a knot. You see here a view from the outside and inside of the shell. These will have to be sealed before anything else.


Once the flaws on the shell are sealed, we give the shell a good cleaning and oiling. The shell is finally ready for the medium-thick goat skin Steve chose himself.


Djembe hand drum with the head replaced. African djembe hand drum with a new drum head. African djembe hand drum with a new drum head.

The shell looks so much better! And the medium-thick skin is pulled really tight so it produces crisp tones and slaps, yet with that extra-long trumpet the bass is huge. This drum has a great range!




Lenke Wood Djembe Reconstruction


Brandon is a lucky guy. He was given this drum shell for free.


Djembe hand drum that needs a drum head. African djembe hand drum without a drum head. Lenke wood djembe without a drum head. Lenke wood hand drum that needs a drum head. African jembe drum in need of a drum head.








Granted, the drum is fairly useless as it now stands, but that's why Brandon brought the drum to The Drum Doctor. After all, Brandon doesn't just have a fine lenke wood shell to work with, he also has the rope and rings. Now he just needs a nice African goat skin and some TLC from The Drum Doctor.

We begin the process of repairing this djembe by giving all the parts a thorough inspection to make sure the rope, rings and shell are all drum worthy.


A crack on the outside of a djembe shell. A crack on the inside of a djembe shell. Another look at the crack on the inside of a djembe drum shell.

We discover a crack that runs the whole thickness of the shell. Here, you get a look at the crack from the outside, from the inside looking through the bowl and from the inside looking through the trumpet. This crack will have to be sealed before we do anything else.


Once the crack is completely sealed, we rasp and sand off some thickness from the upper part of the shell. The rings are much too tight for the thick skin we plan to mount on this beauty. If we try to mount a thick skin as things are, we could damage the skin in the process. Better to do a little extra work now and avoid a lot of work and heartache later.

We now give the shell a good cleaning and oiling. Once the oil has been completely absorbed by the shell, it's time to mount the skin.


African djembe hand drum with a fresh drum head. Lenke wood djembe with a fresh goat skin. Lenke wood djembe with a fresh goat skin drum head. African djembe hand drum that's just been repaired. African jembe drum with a new drum head.








As we mentioned earlier, the thickness of the shell where the crown squeezes over it was thinned a bit to accommodate a thick skin. Thick skins tend to need additional tension to get the nice, clear tones and slaps we want from a djembe. So that's what we did. We pulled and pulled until this baby screamed just so.


African jembe drum in need of a drum head.





Brandon is pretty happy with the results - and so is his djembe!