This is part one of a long term test of the new Toca Stage Series Pro wood djembe.
On a recent trip to Ubud, Bali Indonesia to visit the Bali Treasures company, (also known as the Drum Factory) I was able to get my hands on the new Toca Stage Series Pro wood djembe for a long term test. This is the factory that makes them for the Toca company in the good ole’ USA. Not only that, I was able to pick which drum I wanted to get! I was like a kid in the candy store. The new Toca Stage Series Pro wood djembe is a medium sized drum and the weight is very light in comparison to many other professional level djembe drums. As the drum I got was new, I took my time to crank it up, a few knots per day. My first trial was at a class I was giving at the store. Right off the bat this drum could hold it’s own and it was not even cranked yet. I tried it again the next day at another class I was giving at the art studio of my old friend Raymond Rausch. Everyone was amazed at the sound. I kept taking the drum up to a higher pitch, putting more knots in every day realising that I would need to be very careful about doing this especially while traveling as I would be going through temperature and climatic changes.
I took the drum down to Legion beach (next to Kuta Beach in Bali) to the Sunday sunset drum circle and jam. There was a big crowd and a lot of drummers too. This would be the drums first real outdoor test. Could it hold it’s own? Or could I hold my own? The drum circle had already started when I arrived so I slid in from the rear casually. I was invited to solo immediately, but the Tiriba rhythm they were playing (from Guinee West Africa) was going at light speed and I wanted to get warmed up first.
When the rhythm changed to Soli I stepped out and let it rip. The drum responded well in the line of fire. It projected well and I did not have to kill myself to play it. It has a dryer tone, not as ringy as some other types of drum but that is also my playing style and of course the more you tune it up (the higher the pitch) the less ring or reverb you get. The main thing is that I felt it projected well and was not muffled by the other drums. You can get a drum that sounds great by itself and then you get in a room or around other drummers and you can not hear yourself. I did not have the problem with this drum.
I love the size , shape and feel of this drum, perfect for my 5’8″ body and I never get tired playing it standing up. Of course if you get a bigger drum, it is going to project more , be louder and heavier, so there is always a trade off it seems. The skins on these drums are surprisingly good. The drum uses a double ring clamping system (vs 3 ring) to hold the skin in place. I won’t go into the advantages or disadvantages of the rings vs 2 rings in this article. A lot of people have strong opinions about this. To be honest, I do not have a preference. As long as the drum sounds good and is easy to play I don’t care. Also, I do not like the top rim or ring to be too close to the top because then my hand keeps hitting it. This drum I got was positioned perfectly.
I have been playing this drum all over the planet since I got it two months ago!
Here are the facts about Toca wood djembes directly from Toca:
- Toca is committed to being green and environmentally-friendly. The wood we use is harvested from a plantation in Indonesia, where our drums are then lathed and handcrafted by local musicians. This carefully managed resource is much easier on the environment than wood taken from primary forests.
- Authentic hand-carved, environmentally-friendly mahogany wood
- Kiln dried shell with up to 20 coats of teak oil to protect and preserve the wood
- Natural carving
- Authentic goat skin head,
- Low-stretch alpine rope with braided cores
Stay tuned for more of my experience with this drum and watch the videos of me playing it in some festivals, concerts, with a DJ and in drum circles in Asia, India, USA and Indonesia as well!