Djembe Head Size & Tone FAQ
FAQ: How does the size of the
head effect & determine the tone of the djembe drum?
Drum head sizes are the biggest factor in effecting &
determining the range of tones, as well as, how deep the bass will be.
The shape & height of the djembe is also a factor that
determines the tones, but the head size is the main variable.
Here's a couple rules of thumb:
The smaller the head, the higher the pitch; the larger the
head the lower the pitch & the greater the range of tones.
The larger the head the easier it is to produce bass
tones. Therefore, not only will a bass tone be deeper on a 13" head as
compared to smaller ones, but it will be easier to create the bass.
Smaller heads - 12", 10" & even 8" - can also produce
bass tones but on the smaller drums it is all the more important
for a player's technique to be good.
There are tones other than the bass. These tones are
called slap, open (or simply "tone"), touch, heel, muffled & so on. All of
these tones can be produced on any size djembe, but again the smaller the
head the higher the pitch.
The skin for the head also matters. Goat skin is the
standard skin for djembes & Artdrum's djembes come with hand selected goat
skin. Compared to the thicker skins such as cow or camel-hide, the
thinner goat skin will help the tone to be a little cooler in sound & create
"pings" & overtones.