After working closely with the Drum Factory ‘s Ed Balma and more recently Chris Bromwhich in Ubud, Bali for over a year, we now have two new beautiful limited edition MP Eco Pro wood djembe models ready for the market.
The new djembe drums are offered in 12 ” and a 13″ (6ocm and 65cm) models with a unique “art drum” with painting by Ubud’s famous artist Symon to follow later on!
They are now being distributed in the USA by X8drums.com and by WRP (World Rhythm and Percussion) in the UK. It’s been a long and windy road bringing these drums to fruition but here they are. I have posted several videos on Youtube (please scroll to the bottom of the page and click on the brown link if you can’t wait)!
The feedback from everyone that has heard this drum live and also online has been fantastic and I appreciate all of your support on this project as well. We listened to peoples feedback and this is drum reflects many different peoples positive ideas and contributions as well. The Drum Factory is no beginner at making djembes and they really have the process down to a fine art.
They were able to take the new ideas and implement them immediately and the result is a drum that I believe rivals some african made drums and all other commercial drums in sound, look and definitely 100% in quality.
The drums are turned on a lathe for a symmetrical, balanced look and feel and also for a balanced and smooth tone quality. Also, by using a lathe the costs can be kept down and the savings given to the buyer, as it is much quicker to make a drum on a lathe then by hand carving the entire drum.
One of the major upgrades to this drum is additional carving on the inside of the drum which creates a larger “choke” or opening for the sound to exit from. The choke should always be larger then your fist size when placed in the opening.
We also added a bicycle tire to the bottom of the drum to protect your floors, other peoples floors, to stop the drum from whacking and splitting and to make it easier to hold when you are drumming sitting down. Once you try a drum with a tire on the bottom you will want one on whatever drum you are playing.
So that is all well and fine you might say but the big question still remains why make drums in Bali instead of West Africa or Thailand (or anywhere else)? Don’t they have better wood or more knowledge and history making drums and carving wood? Shouldn’t an African drum come from Africa? Isn’t an African drum “better” then a drum made somewhere else?
Well as a matter of fact I did consider very carefully about this over a long period of time. And being a bit of a purist it was a hard decision for me. I lived and studied and even designed drums and had them made in Africa before. And yes, they make some amazing drums. There is no questioning that at all for me. I love African drums!
So I could have very easily gone to Africa again and brought back more drums from there. But the bottom line at the end of the day is I am concerned about the wood sources there. The sources, the forests where they get their wood is all disappearing fast!
Go to: http://www.afrol.com/features/10278 to read more, or google “deforestation in africa”.
Having said that I would also like to point out that there are some very high quaity drum makers such as Wula Drums that are dedicated to replanting and regrowth in west africa. And I know and have seen that there are several projects to replant trees by several other importers as well.
I just do not have the financial resources or connections to start a project like that up myself in Africa. Furthermore I am only producing about 60 drums a year myself. I needed to find someone already set up building drums that I could work with to build a small amount of custom made djembes in small numbers
As I was doing my research I found out about the Drum Factory in Ubud Bali owned by Ed Balma. At first I was very skeptical. But Ed educated me in his very patient manner about the wood sources and where his come from. How it all works in Indonesia. It is quire fascinating and sad really because their are many beautiful drums coming out of Indonesia but most are from smuggled wood.
So I decided to go with the Drum Dactory in Ubud as my manufacturer. Not only do they stand behind their product 100%, they have great artists and musicians testing the drums, and hey use certified, sustainable replenishable wood. From what I gather the workers at his company are paid a fair wage, and when I went there several times they were always smiling and happy to play drums with me as well.
The Mahogany wood trees are replanted and it is regulated and observed closely and constantly. There is no getting away with anything. The officials come to the factory to inspect and check the wood sources weekly and bi weekly and make sure everything is kosher always looking for a flaw and there never is one. I spent time hanging out in the factory and I have been back and fourth there several times. It is an amazing operation going on there and if you ever go to Bali you should definitely check it out.
The wood that these drums use, the blocks they start from cost twice as much as the “smuggled” and illegal wood, but to me if we are going to use wood drums it is worth the cost to try to at least be conscious about it! People say a lot of things and everyone and anyone can make a claim to have “good wood”.
All I can say is that I am happy know where the wood we are using comes from and can stand behind it, and also have the proper paperwork and certification to back it up. So far no one else I have met in Asia can say that. I am not trying to bad mouth anyone here just pointing out the facts.
Furthermore, the wood is kiln dried and tested for humidity and moisture. The problem with many drums from Indonesia is that the wood is inconsistent and often not fully dried. As the wood dries in your home or anywhere the drum might be it can crack or change shape and this causes problems not only with the integrity of the drum but with the rings that hold the skin to the drum. These drums do not have either of those problems common to many Bali drums. The quality of the wood is very important and that is hard to know when you buy a drum. Because you are buying blindly really. There is no way to know the quality of the drum other then by trusting whoever you by it from.
My goal in making a new drum was to try and design an “eco ” friendly drum from “good wood” and also to make a drum that looks, sounds and feels like an african drum at a price point of almost half their cost. A hard job and a bit of a challenge but I believe we have done it! The smaller drum at 12″‘ is still a nice size, super light in weight and has remarkable presence, full tone, a crisp slap and deep projection of bass and overall sound. Despite being a screamer on the high end (if you crank it up), it still has a lot of deep full bass and rich thick tone.
Please watch the videos and see for yourself. These drums have full rich tone and bass and snappy high end and the slaps really “POP”! The larger 13″ drum is really remarkable in that it covers so much ground. You can use it as a solo drum, accompaniment drum or anywhere in between. Because of the remarkable strength of the wood and roping methods you can really pull these drums as tight as you want! They won’t warp like some lighter drums do.
Some of the unique features are the top roped mounting system simple rope loops for mounting your Casanka Sank.I do not know why no one has thought about it before, but these loops work beautifuly! The limited edition MP Eco drum also comes with a rubber tire bottom which for me is a must for not only keeping the drum in place on any surface but also for protecting your (or other peoples) floors!
I am introducing a 12″ and 13″ Eco Pro wood djembe to start. The smaller one is higher pitched, lighter and particularly great for soloing. The larger drum is a great all around djembe that can do it all.
Please click on the brown link below to see and hear a video of the 65cm 13″ MP Eco Pro djembe:
Please write WRP and ask specifically about the 12″ or 13″ MP Eco Pro Wood Djembes at : firstname.lastname@example.org
Their website: worldrhythm.co.uk their phone: 01242 282191
In the USA these djembe drums are available at X8drums.com