This traditional African instrument, when tuned properly, can possess a myriad of beautiful tones and is exceptionally good fun to play! However, the usual rope-tuned 'Mali weave' method of tuning does take a lot of practise and might leave the uninitiated plain frustrated.
Remo has addressed this tuning issue with the introduction of its contemporary drum key-tuned World Percussion Series djembes, and these models (as well as Remo's awesome Paulo Mattioli and Leon Mobley signature djembes) offer hope as infinitely easier-to-tune alternatives.
Remo sent us a formidable-looking 12" diameter Black Earth key-tuned model that stands 24" tall and, as Spinal Tap's Nigel Tufnel famously uttered, "How much more black could this be? The answer is none. None more black!"
This model is one of five sizes available, ranging from 10" to 18" diameters and between 24" to 28" in height, so there would certainly be a model to suit your needs. In addition to the slightly fibrous Black Earth finish you can also choose from five others, including an interesting Metalized Nickel-Silver finish, from the Remo catalogue.
The drums are constructed entirely from man-made materials so, as a result, are vastly different from traditional solid wood drums with animal-skin heads.
Remo's Advanced Acousticon shell is strong, much more weatherproof and environmentally friendly, whilst their new SkynDeep Black FiberSkyn Mondo drum head is a revelation. This head features a 'straight-wall' construction method, which elevates the head well away from the metal rim, mounting support rim and tuning lugs, allowing unhindered playing and giving a unique look to boot.
The SkynDeep head has an attractive black marble finish that contrasts well with the minimal finish of the drum itself, and a rubber lip at the bottom of the drum protects the instrument well.
This solidly-made drum exhibited beautiful bass tones that were lush, extremely full-sounding but well controlled. Mid-tones and finger strokes were easy to execute and sounded truly articulate when played in combination with the bass strokes. Closed and open slaps were truly a joy to play, possessing a voluminous consistency of tone that will definitely get your playing noticed.