Toca's original Freestyle Djembes have been available since the mid-noughties and were garnered at the 2007 NAMM convention with a Best In Show accolade. They still prove to be extremely popular today but Toca now also has an update on the rope-tuned originals with these Freestyle mechanically- tuneable versions.
All the models are formed from a lightweight and durable synthetic material, moulded into shape, and have an over-sized upper 'bowl' that expands the drums' bass response when compared with other models of the same diameter.
Unlike their rope-tuned predecessors, these all have scaled-down, extended-collar steel counter hoops that connect with slim nodal point nut boxes and ﬁnish with hex-nuts which are tightened with the supplied mini spanner. The nuts have protective rubber tubes over the end of the tuning lugs for added playing comfort and there are non-slip rubber returns to prevent the bottom of the drums being damaged.
Synthetic all-weather heads are ﬁtted on the Freestyle II models, and the Freestyle and Black Mamba drums all have thin goatskin heads. The Black Mamba goatskin head is also ﬁnished in a striking black dye to match the rest of the drum and its hardware.
The low-proﬁle hoops aren't quite as low as we'd like, especially as youngsters might 'connect' with the V-shaped brackets. All the heads are really responsive but, not surprisingly, we preferred the goatskin versions to the synthetic option.
Volume is in abundance in even the smaller sizes and you can crank their tension into doumbek territory with little effort. Mids and Slaps carried well with both head-types but the 'natural' was our favourite.
The two larger sizes are really impressive and all tones are satisfying, sonorous and sound like they're turned up to 11. The 14" drums are a whopping 26" tall and even adults might have to raise their seat or use a strap or stand.