Djembe Rope-The Importance of Quality
We’ve said it before, but we can’t stress it enough; quality rope is an essential component of a great-sounding rope-tuned djembe drum. The rope determines the degree of tuning to which the djembe is capable; without the right kind of rope, even an otherwise excellent djembe will be produce a sub-par tone at best. That’s why we’ve outline the traits of quality djembe rope, so you know what to look for, whether as a first-time buyer, or someone seeking to add a quality instrument to their collection.
Each of the djembes on motherrhythm.com come equipped with high performance rope that meet 100% of these standards. Wherever you purchase you djembe, be sure to take these tips into consideration to avoid disappointment!
How Thick is the Rope?
Rope thickness is obviously indicative of rope-strength. The rope on a djembe is made from one continuous piece of tuning rope and is the backbone of the tuning system. Therefore, it’s safe to assume that you wouldn’t want a thin piece of dental floss holding it all together! Most high-performance djembes will have 5 mm rope, however the size of the djembe will determine the thickness of rope it requires. Follow the guidelines below to determine which thickness of rope is best for each size djembe:
|Djembe Size||Ideal Rope Thickness|
|19”-20” x 9”-10”||4 mm|
|23”-24” x 11”-12”||5 mm|
|25”-26” x 12.5”-13.5”||5-6 mm|
What Kind of Material is the Rope Made From?
Rope comes in many forms and can be made from many different types of materials. The two main types of rope materials that should be used for a djembe are nylon and polyester. Nylon is one of the strongest synthetic fibers used in rope manufacturing, while still containing a degree of malleability that comes in handy when tuning your djembe (as opposed to stiff rope that fights you with every step). It also has a low-stretch rating, which is essential for maintaining a djembe’s tune (unless you want to tune it every day!). Most high-performance djembes utilize nylon rope, however polyester is another alternative that provides the same benefits. Whichever you choose, make sure to stick with nylon or polyester ONLY, any other rope material is better suited for other applications.
How Strong Is the Rope?
All quality djembe rope will be listed as HTB, that is “High Tensile Braided.” Good rope will have an internal core made of multiple strands braided together. Internally-braided nylon rope has the greatest strength to elongation ratio, meaning that it’s extremely low-stretch—ideal for the player seeking to maintain the much-sought tight, crisp sound of a tuned djembe.
How Many Pairs of Rope Laterals?
This is a hugely important factor in determining the djembe’s sound quality. Each rope-tuned djembe will have vertical ropes extending from the top ring of the djembe to the bottom waist ring (keep in mind that these vertical ropes are made up of all one long piece of rope). The vertical ropes are divided into pairs which are called “lateral pairs.” Lateral pairs are created as sections of the rope are looped onto the rings. The more vertical pairs you have, the better your drum will sound, as they reinforce the rope tension and help distribute the tension evenly around the drum head, resulting in a great sound and fewer overtones. Each drum has an ideal amount of lateral pairs based on its size. Refer to the chart below to see how many lateral pairs a djembe should have.
|Djembe Size||Ideal # of Lateral Pairs|
|19”-20” x 9”-10”||20-25|
|23”-24” x 11”-12”||24-35|
|25”-26” x 12.5”-13.5”||28-35|
Whatever the amount of lateral pairs the djembe has, try to stick with the above numbers. Ideally, the drum will have pairs numbering on the higher side of the scale for its size, although much more can be somewhat gimmicky and could result in overpaying for bells and whistles disguised as function.
With all of this said, you should now know approximately what to look for in djembe rope. The rope quality should not be ignored if you’re seeking a drum with quality sound and, aside from the shell itself, should arguably be one of the first things you inspect before purchasing.
As always, please feel free to contact us with any questions!