Djembe Wood Species

 Information to Identify Wood Types in Djembe Drum Building.

African djembes are carved of many types of woods. Some types are better than others, and species have many different names depending on the country the djembe is from. Some species are very similar in appearance, and are often confused by both buyers and sellers of drums. This information won't make you an expert, but should help identify the wood the djembe you are looking at is made of. The woods in BOLD type are considered having some of the best sound qualities in the world, and are generally preferred!

Thanks to Rick Johnson!

African Woods / Photos at Bottom

Afzelia africana *  Lengue', Lenke', Lingue', Linke' (Maninkakan), and Lingue (French)HardBurkina Faso, Cote d'Ivoire, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Senegal, and Sierra Leone.
Azadirachta indicaNeemMediumPlanted and naturalized throughout west Africa.
Bombax costatumVery soft, but used for Dununs, Bumu (Bamanankan), Boumou (Dioula), Bounboun (Mandenkan), matchwood, whitewood, bois blancSoftBurkina Faso, Gambia, Guinea, Mali, and Senegal.
Cassia SiameaCasha, Rare wood used in urban plantings. Very dark, almost black color. Dense heavy wood. HardBamako City , Mali.
Cordia milleniiTweneboa, commonly used in Ghana drumsSoftCote d'Ivoire, Guinea, and Liberia.
Cordia platythyrsa TweneboaSoftSierra Leone to Cameroun
Cordyla pinnataDim (French), Dimb (Wolof), * Dougoura (Bamanankan and Maninkakan), Dugura (Bamanankan), and bush mango. Dougi,* Doukie,and DukiHardBurkina Faso Cote d'Ivoire, Mali, Gambia, and Senegal.
Gmelina arboreaMelina (used in dununs and djembes)  SoftNative to southern Asia. Planted from Senegal to Cameroun.
Khaya anthotheca.Acajou blanc, soft woodMediumSierra Leone to Ghana.
Khaya grandifoliola* Acajou (French), and Broad-leaved mahoganyMediumCote d'Ivoire, and Guinea.
Khaya ivorensisAcajou d' Afrique (French) African MahoganyHardCote d'Ivoire, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.
Khaya senegalens* Acajou du Se'ne'gal(French), Diala and * Djala (Maninkakan), and Jala Bamanankan)HardBurkina Faso, Cote d'Ivoire, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Senegal, and Sierra Leone.
Mansonia altissimaMansoniaMediumGhana and Ivory Coast.
Milicia excelsaIroko, classic in Cote d'Ivoire drumsMediumBurkina Faso, Cote d'Ivoire, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, and Sierra Leone.
Milicia regiaIroko, Sine'(Bamanankan)MediumCote d'Ivoire, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Senegal, and Sierra Leone.
Prosopis africana  

Gele (Bamanankan), Bele, CelenHardBurkina Faso, Cote d'Ivoire, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Senegal, and Sierra Leone.
Pterocarpus erinaceusGoni and * Gue'ni / Guenou (Bamanankan), Keno and M'gouin (Maninkakan), Kare, Kari, and * Khari(Susu), Khadi, Hare, goueni, gonee, aka guin, and * Balafon woodHardBurkina Faso, Cote d'Ivoire, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Senegal, and Sierra Leone.
Pterocarpus soyauxiiPadauk and PadoukHardNigeria and countries to the south.
Showing entries (filtered from total entries)


Light colored, or stained light weight wood. Fast growing for a sustainable forest. a Good alternative to hard woods!



Dense Medium weight wood. Slight reddish color, most commong in Ivory Coast. 



The Mali version of Khadi Wood. Very dense, "Zebra" type grain. Brown to almost black colored


Akajou / Djala

Deep red, very fine grained mohagony style wood. Varies brown to dark beet red. Very hard wood.



Can be hard to distinguish from Lenke. Very fine "rice" sized grain with subtle mahogany look. Usually brown to red brown.


Khadi - Hare'

Very dense Red to deep brown "Zebra" grained wood. Hold very fine detail in carving, takes a high polish.


Lengue - Lenke

Red orange toned fine Mahagony look. slightly more grain pattern than Doukie. Very dense, good for carving detail.



Dark red to almost black, soft "Zebra" striped grain. Dense wood, slightly oily on its own for a lasting finish.


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