How to Mic a Djembe, Step-By-Step Guide to Mic’ing Your Drum

Djembe is a traditional musical instrument of West African origin. It is most notable for its droning sounds and distinguishing characteristics, struck with a stick. It originated in the region of Africa west of the Niger River and is used by the southern Diaspora of the region, including some Afro-Cubans.

The Djembe was first introduced to the western world in 1910 when its use was documented among the Yoruba people of Nigeria. Often called a talking drum, the Djembe has since been widely used by musicians worldwide. Technology has made it a lot easier, and beating a Djembe is one of the things affected. You can mic a djembe to make a beat for music and, more importantly, make thousand or millions of listeners hear your beat live. The major question is how to mic a djembe?

Any dynamic or condenser microphone will work fine for miking up an acoustic instrument like the Djembe. The mic should be placed near the center of the drumhead and as close as possible to where the player’s hands strike the drum skin.

How to Mic a Djembe Drum for Recording?

How to mic a djembe

The most common microphones used for Djembe drums are dynamic microphones and condenser microphones. Dynamic microphones are very rugged and can withstand the rigors of field recording, but they do not sound as natural as condenser mics.

Condenser mics are more fragile than dynamics and require phantom power to operate. Phantom power is provided by your audio interface or console. The advantage of using condenser mics is that they are more accurate at reproducing the instrument’s sound than dynamic microphones.

You’ll want to use a pair of condenser microphones when you’re recording a Djembe drum. Condenser mics are the go-to choice for recording acoustic drums because they have a wider frequency response than dynamic mics, which means they capture more detail and nuance from the instrument.

Follow these steps to mic a Djembe drum for recording:

Step 1: Place the microphone at a height of about 15-20″ from the drum head. If you have more than one mic, place the other below to drum to get an accurate beat from the sound.

Step 2: Position the mic as close as possible to the center of the drum, but not touching it.

Step 3: Use a pair of foam windscreens on the microphone’s diaphragm to reduce wind noise and breath sounds.

Step 4: Set up your recording device (e.g., computer) so that you can monitor the sound while recording, but do not play back what you have recorded until you have finished all takes.

How Many Mics Do I Need for Djembe Drums?

Djembes are large drums that produce sounds from two sides, bottom sound holes, and skin. The size of the drum is also a factor when deciding how many mics you need for your Djembe. It’s hard to say how many mics you should use because it depends on what you are going for.

If you want to record the sound of your Djembe in a studio session or mic it for your live performance, then you will need at least two mics. One mic will be placed inside the drum to pick up the bottom sound hole, while another one will be placed on top of the drum to pick up the skin movement.

There are some situations where only one mic is needed but not always recommended since it can give you an uneven frequency response when recording or performing live with your Djembe.

However, if you mic from both sides, it will give you more control over how many low-end and high-end frequencies are in your mix. This is also beneficial for live performances as it allows you to mix them separately by adjusting each microphone’s volume level independently.

How Can I Make My Djembe Sound Better on the Mic?

Djembe drums have a rich and full sound, but they can be difficult to mic and get the wanted sound afterward. The main issue is that their shape means they are very directional, meaning they only sound good when you’re standing in front of them. This means that if you’re sitting in the audience, all you’ll hear is the bass drum and no upper frequencies at all.

The first thing you want to do is make sure that your mic is at the right distance from your drum. This will help with the sound quality. Distance is measured in inches. In this case, the larger the number, the further away it is from your drum. Your studio or live performance is another factor in how your djembe drum will sound with the mic.

A good starting point for most mics is 6 inches. If this distance doesn’t work out for you, try moving it closer or further away until you find a sweet spot where it sounds good on both your ears and your video recording device (phone camera, computer webcam, or camera).

If you have trouble hearing yourself when playing alone, try turning up the volume knob on your Djembe so that it’s loud enough for you to hear yourself. Be careful not to go overboard, though, because if it’s too loud, it may distort your sound and make it sound not nice in playback.

Can You Use Sticks on a Djembe?

The Djembe is a hand drum of West African origin. It is made from a wood or clay pot, shaped like a large goblet, with animal skin covering the top. The drum has been used in religious ceremonies and secular celebrations for centuries. The Djembe is played by striking it with the hands as well as with sticks. However, using the stick on the djembe drum is not advisable.

You can’t use sticks on a djembe because they are made to be played with bare hands. But if you want to play with sticks, there are other options, such as the bongos or congas.

There are two reasons why:

1. The drum’s skin is not strong enough to handle sticks being struck against it at high speeds. If you strike the drum with enough force and in the right place, you could tear the skin or even break the stick.

2. Playing with sticks requires more energy than playing with your hands because they are larger and heavier than your fingers. This means you’ll tire out faster if you play with sticks instead of just using your hands.

Using a stick is not traditional for the djembe drum.

Best Mic for Djembe Drum

Finding the best microphone for the djembe drum is not an easy task. So, I have done research on this topic and compiled lots of ideas from different sources. Now I will share with you what I learned with the hope that it can be useful to you when purchasing one.

  • The Shure SM7B Vocal Dynamic Microphone
  • LyxPro SDPC-2 Stereo Pair of Pencil Condenser Stick Instrument Microphone
  • Heimu Bass Drum Microphone

The Shure SM7B Vocal Dynamic Microphone

The Shure SM7B Vocal Dynamic Microphone for djembe drum delivers clear, natural sound and legendary performance. The super-cardioid polar pattern minimizes off-axis sound for outstanding feedback rejection, giving you a focused, intimate vocal experience.

This dynamic microphone is perfect for speech, vocals, and instruments such as drums or guitar amplifiers. With a rugged design that’s ideal for outdoor performances, this microphone offers low handling noise and zero internal pops or spits.

Shure SM7B Vocal Dynamic Microphone for Broadcast, Podcast & Recording, XLR Studio Mic for Music & Speech, Wide-Range Frequency, Warm & Smooth Sound, Rugged Construction, Detachable Windscreen - Black

Shure SM7B Vocal Dynamic Microphone

LyxPro SDPC-2 Stereo Pair of Pencil

The LyxPro SDPC-2 Stereo Pair of Pencil Condenser Stick Instrument Microphones for djembe drum is designed to offer the best possible audio quality. It combines modern technology with cutting-edge design, making it ideal for professional and amateur musicians.

These microphones are made using the same materials and technology as our top-of-the-line models with a fantastic price tag. The supercardioid design ensures that ambient noise is minimized and only sound picked up by the microphone will be heard through your speakers.

LyxPro SDPC-2 Stereo Pair of Pencil Condenser Stick Instrument Microphone Pair - Interchangeable Omni, Cardioid & Super Cardioid Capsules Included

LyxPro SDPC-2 Stereo Stick Microphone

Heimu Bass Drum Microphone

The Heimu Bass Drum Microphone for djembe drum is essential for any percussionist or drum set enthusiast. The microphone is uniquely designed to capture every nuance of your native djembe drum sound, ensuring that you get a truly authentic experience when playing live or recording a track.

This microphone is the perfect accessory for any African djembe drum, and it can be used with other drums as well. It transmits sound loud and clear with a very smooth sound. Great quality build and a must-have if you play the Djembe.

Heimu Bass Drum Microphone (Big Drum Mic)

Heimu Bass Drum Microphone

FAQs About Djembe Mic

What are the 3 main djembe techniques?

There are three main ways to strike the head of a djembe drum: slap, bass, and tone. Each technique produces a distinct sound, and mastering all three is key to becoming a skilled djembe drummer. Slap is produced by hitting the edge of the drumhead with your fingertips, while the bass is created by hitting the center of the drumhead with the heel of your hand. Tone, which is the most commonly used technique, is achieved by hitting the edge of the drumhead with the flat of your hand.

What equipment do I need to mic my drums?

If you’re looking to mic your snare drum, the industry-standard Shure SM57 is a great choice. For rack toms, the Shure PGA 98D microphones are recommended as they can easily clip onto your drums. If you’re looking to mic your floor toms, the Shure PGA56 dynamic microphone is a popular choice that can also be used for snare drums.

What do a talking drum and djembe have in common?

Talking drums and djembes are both percussion instruments that originated in West Africa. Both instruments were traditionally used to communicate between tribes, with the talking drum specifically designed to mimic the tonal inflections of the human voice. Djembes and talking drums both have a wide range of sounds that can travel over long distances, making them ideal for use in communal celebrations and other events.

Final Thoughts on Djembe Microphone

Like drums, Djembe is a percussion instrument. It is made of wood, skin, and rope and is mostly finished with animal skin which gives it a unique characteristic. It has a cylindrically shaped body that comes with a leather strap called the rope. With this article, I hope that you’ve learned how you can mic your Djembe or other African drums. 

You’ll now be ready to get the best sound possible from your instruments and won’t have to go through the hassle of placing your microphones or dealing with complicated setups.

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