Fantastic Djembe Tuning Tutorial

Djembe and Tool

Djembe hand-made by Doug Libby in the authentic west African way and the secret tool for tuning.
Djembe hand-made by Doug Libby in the authentic west African way and the secret tool for tuning. | Source

YouTube Djembe Tuning Lesson

YouTube browsing led me to a most fantastic tutorial on tuning my djembe. It is in multiple learning modes -- aural and visual with actual demonstration.  Even better, the drum teacher REPEATS the process. Since mechanical skills are not my forte, I need all the repetition I can get. Yes, one can replay a YouTube video ad nauseum, but at least by having the method shown two times, I am saved some clicking around on the computer and frustration with waiting or dragging for the right part.

Some drums need tuning

Djembes have pitches, but not as in A = 440. The head naturally loosens over time as it is played - similarly to guitar strings loosening after an amount of playing. Therefore, tuning a djembe means tightening the goatskin head. (If your djembe does not have ropes, this does not apply.) I had been taught in a drum class how to tighten the Mali Weave on a djembe. However, it looked so intimidating that the iron gates of my brain's intake section slammed closed. In addition, when I was taught, I did not have an oppportunity to actually practice. Then there are helpful friends who are so proud of their ability to tighten a djembe head, that they do the whole operation for me in 3 minutes. So, instead of teaching me how to "fish for a lifetime," they give the proverbial fish for one day. Well meaning buddies, but still...

The vice grip can be operated with one hand to preserve each part of the tightening of the djembe head.
The vice grip can be operated with one hand to preserve each part of the tightening of the djembe head. | Source

Extra "secret" tool makes it painless

All the instruction I had received prior to discovering this YouTube required that one use a sturdy stick, such as a drumstick for the procedure.  The video contributor, mollyandboy, shows how EASILY it can be done using the sturdy stick and

a vice grip!

Genius!

The video

In case you want to use the copy and paste method, the video is at this url: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mPY4D4uTzQg&feature=BFp&list=WLFECDF3504742A675&index=1

I rate it an A++++++.  Please send comments if you choose to try this 2-tool method.  Thanks!

Summary of Video Instructions

Vice-Grip Method of Tuning a Rope-Tuned Djembe:

Put vice-grip on the last knot. Loosen up the tuning rope.

Look at the next 2 vertical rope strands.

Pull loose rope end UNDER those 2 verticals.

Then go backwards in direction, threading rope OVER the first vertical and UNDER the second.

Then pull tightly as all get out to make those the first vertical sit on top of the second vertical. Now put vice grip on this new knot.

Forward: UNDER, UNDER, Backwards: OVER UNDER. Pull first vertical on top of second one.

Repeat as needed.

When finished, tuck tuning rope back out of the way.

Photos and text copyright 2011 Maren E. Morgan

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