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!
|LATIN NAME||COMMON NAMES||HARDNESS / WEIGHT||RANGE OF DISTRIBUTION|
|Afzelia africana *||Lengue', Lenke', Lingue', Linke' (Maninkakan), and Lingue (French)||Hard||Burkina Faso, Cote d'Ivoire, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Senegal, and Sierra Leone.|
|Azadirachta indica||Neem||Medium||Planted and naturalized throughout west Africa.|
|Bombax costatum||Very soft, but used for Dununs, Bumu (Bamanankan), Boumou (Dioula), Bounboun (Mandenkan), matchwood, whitewood, bois blanc||Soft||Burkina Faso, Gambia, Guinea, Mali, and Senegal.|
|Cassia Siamea||Casha, Rare wood used in urban plantings. Very dark, almost black color. Dense heavy wood.||Hard||Bamako City , Mali.|
|Cordia millenii||Tweneboa, commonly used in Ghana drums||Soft||Cote d'Ivoire, Guinea, and Liberia.|
|Cordia platythyrsa||Tweneboa||Soft||Sierra Leone to Cameroun|
|Cordyla pinnata||Dim (French), Dimb (Wolof), * Dougoura (Bamanankan and Maninkakan), Dugura (Bamanankan), and bush mango. Dougi,* Doukie,and Duki||Hard||Burkina Faso Cote d'Ivoire, Mali, Gambia, and Senegal.|
|Gmelina arborea||Melina (used in dununs and djembes)||Soft||Native to southern Asia. Planted from Senegal to Cameroun.|
|Khaya anthotheca.||Acajou blanc, soft wood||Medium||Sierra Leone to Ghana.|
|Khaya grandifoliola||* Acajou (French), and Broad-leaved mahogany||Medium||Cote d'Ivoire, and Guinea.|
|Khaya ivorensis||Acajou d' Afrique (French) African Mahogany||Hard||Cote d'Ivoire, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.|
|Khaya senegalens||* Acajou du Se'ne'gal(French), Diala and * Djala (Maninkakan), and Jala Bamanankan)||Hard||Burkina Faso, Cote d'Ivoire, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Senegal, and Sierra Leone.|
|Mansonia altissima||Mansonia||Medium||Ghana and Ivory Coast.|
|Milicia excelsa||Iroko, classic in Cote d'Ivoire drums||Medium||Burkina Faso, Cote d'Ivoire, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, and Sierra Leone.|
|Milicia regia||Iroko, Sine'(Bamanankan)||Medium||Cote d'Ivoire, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Senegal, and Sierra Leone.|
|Prosopis africana ||Gele (Bamanankan), Bele, Celen||Hard||Burkina Faso, Cote d'Ivoire, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Senegal, and Sierra Leone.|
|Pterocarpus erinaceus||Goni and * Gue'ni / Guenou (Bamanankan), Keno and M'gouin (Maninkakan), Kare, Kari, and * Khari(Susu), Khadi, Hare, goueni, gonee, aka guin, and * Balafon wood||Hard||Burkina Faso, Cote d'Ivoire, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Senegal, and Sierra Leone.|
|Pterocarpus soyauxii||Padauk and Padouk||Hard||Nigeria and countries to the south.|
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
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.
Very dense Red to deep brown "Zebra" grained wood. Hold very fine detail in carving, takes a high polish.
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.