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Messages - Kalasinar

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Buy & Sell Darbuka / Re: Looking for a pro quality doumbek....
« on: November 09, 2015, 09:08:23 AM »
Just to add to my previous advice, as i have learnt a little more myself since that post... I would actually strongly recommend that if you are after a professional darbuka, it must come from a professional who has inspected (and preferably played) the instrument. The professional must be honest of course, but it is so important to obtaining a professional drum that you should never need to upgrade from. Buying any instrument online is so hazardous because quality can vary, and of course you are not able to try before you buy. Videos and sound samples cannot give the most accurate idea either, and for build quality you need to be able to hold it in your hands.

But like me, if you can't be there in person to pick your instrument, the next best thing is to have a professional or experienced player (who therefore knows what they're doing) pick for you. I've heard of some players offering this service in the past, and there is one guy in the UK here who seems to still do this. I think with enough digging and googling online, you may be able to turn up somebody offering such a service. Even the players at Arab Instruments here might be able to offer some in-depth insight into what they sell if you ask them...? Either way, it is a really good idea to have someone who knows what they're doing inspect and play the drum beforehand. If you know a trusted fellow drummer who plays darbuka and is able to play the drums in person, that might work - i have done this in the past for fellow musicians (for a wind instrument in this case, i have no in-person access to darbukas) where i have been able to try and buy straight from the maker on behalf of a friend abroad.

The other option would be 'Signature Series' instruments, though i would research each thoroughly first to learn all that be found concerning the production. A lot of instruments have their own series of models created by professional players. For example - Meinl have their Artisan Series and Toca have their Jamal Series darbukas. Initially, these may come across as higher end instruments, and indeed they might be in terms of construction and materials used. But usually the professional in question only has control and hands-on involvement with the initial prototype. Once the prototype is approved, the job is done, and the professional goes back to the busy lifestyle of being a full time musician. Yes the instruments are made to the professional's specifications, but they will be mass produced and will in most cases not be inspected by the professional who had them created. I realise professional musicians have lives of their own and can't be everywhere at once. But there's no avoiding the fact that, at the end of the day, all that has been created is yet another production line with just a name branded on them. There's no special treatment. I've read very mixed opinions on the Toca Jamal series, and not been able to turn up any opinions whatsoever on the Meinl Artisan Series...

The only exception to this that i've found are the Signature Series Tablas offered by Hossam Ramzy. In this very unique case, the production of each drum is overseen by Hossam. He inspects them and plays them (indeed, he pledges that every drum he sells is one he would play himself). This is, from my point of view, very very rare and a great opportunity to obtain something that will most definitely be a professional instrument.

Buy & Sell Darbuka / Re: Looking for a pro quality doumbek....
« on: October 30, 2015, 06:55:18 AM »
From researching online, it appears to me the best quality aluminium darbukas can be acquired from Mohammed El Arabi, Emin Percussion, and Hossam Ramzy. From what i've read, El Arabi chooses the best drum shells to make his drums with and the pearl inlay work is exquisite. Hossam Ramzy also does this, travelling to Egypt to oversee production and only sells the drums he would play himself. All these manufacturers are on FB i think, so you can view their work there.

I would also suggest ceramic darbukas for superior sound. Emin make their own ceramic drums i think, and then there are three makers in Greece - Savvas, Descarga and Kleo. I got a medium bass model from Savvas this year and it is a wonderful drum, and very very reasonably priced (shipping included).

Edit: I'll also add that GEFs can be of good quality but apparently it can vary. I wouldn't know as i only have the one mother of pearl inlay Gawharet El Fan, but i've modified it myself to improve sound a little. The inner rim and top rim had some rough metal edges and burrs, so after some careful sanding and cleaning, i got rid of a niggling little buzz sound that was annoying me. It sounds better and i'm very happy with it now, and the nice thing about GEFs is one can change the heads to Remo, Powerbeat, etc etc.

Doumbek Advice, Tips Questions & Lessons / Re: Need a good solution.
« on: October 30, 2015, 06:47:50 AM »
To be honest, for kit drums, an electric drum kit is probably the only way to go if you have fussy neighbours. I think all drummers come to this issue sooner or later, and i've been considering an electric kit myself for when i have the disposable cash to spend on one. Roland is always a decent brand to go with, or so i've heard from fellow drummers who have had to get an electric.

As for hand drumming though, i bought something recently to use as a substitute darbuka/cajon for when it is late at night and i still want to practice. It is pretty much a miniature/travel cajon, but i can sit cross legged on the floor with it propped up like a darbuka. It is the Schlagwerk Cajonito. I tried it first in a music store and instantly bought it because it can be played both quiet and loud - it has great sound. One side of it has a snare effect, and the other is plain, and it also comes with a dampening pad to quieten it further. So, at times where a darbuka or full sized cajon are too loud for those around me, i pick up the Cajonito.

Doumbek, Darbuka Lovers / Re: Do you only play your own drums?
« on: October 24, 2015, 10:30:39 AM »
I play kit drums too and there's nothing worse than sitting down to play an unfamiliar kit, only to find that some of the drums are out of tune, the cymbals are horrid and the bass drum pedal flat and lifeless. I am very uncomfortable playing other people's kits...when i set up my own kit everything has to be 'just so'...

As for hand drums, the only drums other than my own i've played have all been in music shops. In those instances, the skins are usually so loose and untuned that they are unplayable. Cajons seem to be the only percussion instruments worth playing in those instances.

If you have prior drumming experience and/or instruction then it is not hard to pick up and learn the Arabic rhythms. If you are very new to drumming, and hand drums in particular, then there are many techniques and skills that will take time and persistent practice to master. It all depends how passionate and dedicated you are, as with any musical instrument. I have been learning darbuka for almost a year now, though i have been playing kit drums for over ten years. There are some particular skills i have been constantly practicing which are not quite 'there' yet, but progress has been very obvious, and each step closer to my goal encourages me to continue.

As far as lessons go, i am in a position where there are no instructors local to me and currently i do not drive so it is difficult for me to travel far afield. I learnt some things from youtube in the beginning, but i wanted more solid and structured lessons. I searched a lot online and found an instructional DVD by Faisal Zedan which is extremely good. I've been learning from it since -

As for cheap darbukas...i would not recommend them if you are into the darbuka for the long haul (i.e. - you know you will stick with it). I started out on a vinyl covered lightweight darbuka (HE-3000) made by Meinl. It is okay but the doums are very flat and uninteresting, and both the doum and tek lack the bright sound of what i love about my GEF (though the teks are very snappy). You are also stuck with only using Meinl heads on that model too because it is an uncommon size. For £85 i do not think the Meinl is very good, though to give some credit, the shell is very well made.
Gawharet el Fan mother of pearl darbukas are much better but of course more expensive (i got mine for £162). The shells can be hit or miss; sometimes the rims are finished terribly (i've had to sand mine down recently). I've heard quality can vary greatly with GEFs, though i've only had experience with the one i have, so i couldn't attest to that. However for the moment i would say the GEF is the best metal darbuka i have. The doum has great sustain and the teks are bright. You can also switch up the heads on it, to a Remo or Powerbeat etc etc.
Alexandria darbukas are a train wreck in terms of shell quality and build. I only have a mini 12" one for fun, but it has a hole in the body near the base and so many pits and bumps all over the inside and rim. I've sanded off the sharp areas around the rim which has vastly improved sound, but eventually i think i'm going to sand the entire inside smooth. I've not tried the standard size Alexandrias but they probably at least have a good weight to them. I don't know if they'd be better than the £85 Meinl or not, but again like the GEF you can switch up the heads on the Alexandrias.

If you are able, try some darbukas in a shop first, especially if they have a nice selection. I'm unable to do that in the UK where i live because most shops stock 'Atlas' brand darbukas which are pretty much the same as the Meinl i started with. Ceramic darbukas are very expensive but very worth it if you progress and get hooked on the instrument. I got a medium bass model from Savvas Percussion in Greece this year and it is phenomenal.

Djembe has been on my to-get list for a while but to get a good size drum seems to be rather expensive in the UK. Are there any particular djembes you can recommend? Are rope tuned djembes better than bolt tuned djembes? I have had chances to play around on djembes in shops, but none have particularly wowed me. I prefer the darbuka much more because of the vast range of sounds and expression it can produce. And i totally agree, the darbuka can be both a solo/lead instrument and accompaniment in skilled hands, while the djembe just seems more background accompaniment to me. I've had enough 'background accompaniment' playing in my long years of playing kit drums, so when i was introduced to the darbuka i was immediately hooked because of the various possibilities it opened up. It reignited my passion for percussion!

I agree it is important for drummers to play different kinds of drums, if not just for experimentation, but to learn all the different techniques which can only enhance our skills. When i was taught kit drums my teacher also encouraged me to play the bongos as well, and often we would jam together for fun (and my educational benefit) - one of us on kit, the other on bongos.

Since picking up the darbuka i have also picked up the cajon. I got a riq as well but have yet to start learning it due to my focus on darbuka. I'd like to get a djembe and a bodhrán eventually when i have money to spare on them, but for now i am happy with my small arsenal of kit drums, bongos, darbuka and cajon (and riq) ^^

Doumbek, Darbuka Lovers / Re: We found the Remo doumbeks..
« on: October 14, 2015, 10:13:31 AM »
Thanks for posting your impression on Remo darbukas. I've been curious about them but have never been able to try one myself to see what warrants their high price tag. Searching online i've found a drum shop in London that appear to stock them, so next time i'm travelling through London i'll likely stop by and try them out. Personally i don't mind the looks of Remo drums, though i think something more demure or elegant would be nice...

Height can vary from brand to brand, but i think the average height for a standard darbuka is 17"-17.5" (with 8.5"-8.75" skins). Then there are sombati drums which are around 18.5" i think (with 9" skins), and doholla drums at 19" (with 10" skins). From my research i've noticed that sombati size seems to be very popular and highly regarded, though i could not say from personal experience as i do not own one…yet.

You can also get miniature darbukas (specifically aimed at children) that are about 12" high with small skins. I have one just for fun, and it is small enough to throw into a backpack, but it is high pitched and not as good sound as a larger darbuka.

One piece of advice i can give from experience is to seriously consider what brand/type of skin head you want before you buy a darbuka. Some brands will do the same size as each other giving you a wide range of skin choice and ready availability to buy replacement heads for your darbuka. Skins such as Remo and Powerbeat are great and offer 8.75" size which will fit standard Gawharet el Fan darbukas. They also do 9" skins for GEF sombati drums too. This gives great choice for sound on your darbuka, and sound is very important!

My first darbuka was a Meinl and unfortunately it takes an odd size skin, so i can only get replacement heads from Meinl (they are hard to buy in my country - i have to import them from Germany). So with this one, i have not been able to change the head to anything else, and buying new skins is difficult - i wish i had researched skin sizes and availability before buying!

I now have a GEF mother of pearl darbuka with a Remo 8.75" 'fish skin' on it. It sounds fantastic and i also have Powerbeat or Remo 'turquoise mist' skin to change to if i want!

So consider drum skins carefully before you make a darbuka purchase!

If you're truly serious about drumming and looking to stick with the darbuka for the long term, then i would spend a little more for a professional type. This goes for just about every instrument really - many people are unsure and go for a cheap instrument to be on the safe side, but sometimes a cheap option will give you a bad impression of the instrument and/or the build quality will be atrocious. Also, buying cheap will not necessarily save you money in the long term - if you do stick with it, you will want a professional darbuka eventually, so that will be even more money on top of what you already paid for the cheap one. Better to buy the professional drum from the offset!

When i started playing drums at the age of thirteen, my parents could only afford a cheap drum kit, and after about a year the attachments for the tom-toms broke. We eventually bought a professional kit that is still going strong over ten years later. When i started playing darbuka i bought a Meinl for about £80, and while it is still passable in sound, it does not have the same excellent sound as a GEF. When i bought a GEF for over twice the price of the Meinl i realised the huge difference, and now i only really play the GEF. I use the Meinl for teaching my friends things, but 99% of the time i will play the mother of pearl GEF no question.

I have a Meinl darbuka which has eight tuning bolts, a mother of pearl GEF darbuka with six, and a mini darbuka with four (i don't know if its Alexandria or GEF - it was advertised as the latter but i strongly suspect it is actually the former).

I don't know the mechanics that would make one better than the other, but the Meinl can be a bit of an ordeal to tune having so many bolts. I'd say from my observations, six tuning bolts seems to be the happy medium - not too few to get good tension, and not too many to make it a chore.

The padded case available from Arab Instruments is the best i've come across so far. The fact it has two shoulder straps so it can be carried on your back is one of the best features and is usually absent on other cases. I have a Meinl case as well which is excellent, but sadly only has one shoulder strap and carry handles. Carrying a heavy pearl darbuka in the Meinl case with only one shoulder strap is painful, so i usually only use the AI case for transporting darbukas (the Meinl i keep as a storage case).

Darbuka Teachers & Lessons / Re: Where to find a good teacher?
« on: June 01, 2015, 08:45:56 AM »
I started learning online as living in the Western part of the world i have found it difficult to find a teacher of any sort. Not many people i know have even heard of the darbuka before sadly :(

Youtube videos did help me for a short time but inevitably the available tuition became inconsistent. It is then that you find yourself bouncing between different tutorials with different players teaching differing things. Yes it is good to learn a variety of techniques and methods but i feel that where the internet is concerned you have to be very careful of erroneous instruction. Having had professional drumming instruction and tuition in my youth, i also appreciate structure and focus in learning an instrument - something that i find the internet cannot provide because the lessons fizzle out and you have to look elsewhere.

When i came to this hurdle i did some research and found some good tutorial recommendations on On that site he mentions the Faisal Zedan instructional dvd which i eventually bought and am currently learning from. I'm finding it very clear and structured, and i think there is also a follow-on dvd available too so i can continue learning. Here is the link - They also sent me a free cd of arabic music featuring the darbuka which i really enjoy listening to and is really inspiring!

It is the weight that makes all the difference, that and the thickness of the walls. I wish i had actually bought one of the plain darbukas mentioned in this thread as my beginner darbuka back when i started. At the time i bought a Meinl which has very thin walls and is very lightweight. At least even the plain ones here have a significant heft to them. When i got a MOP darbuka i instantly noticed the differences, and how much the weight and thickness of it affected the sound quality. Now i hardly ever pick up my Meinl, it sounds a bit tinny in comparison...

I hope no one minds me asking, particularly those who do make ceramic darbukas. I am an artist and i work in ceramics, i have been making clay wind instruments for a number of years now. Since starting playing the darbuka naturally the process of making ceramic darbukas (and ceramic drums in general) has piqued my curiosity. Because you are dealing with a significantly large clay vessel with what i assume must have quite thick clay walls, do you slow the drying time over a few months to ensure no cracking/warping occurs in the vessel? The instruments i make are very small in comparison to the darbuka, but i do wonder if larger vessels are more susceptible to problems during drying and therefore need a long time to dry slowly…?

Doumbek, Darbuka Lovers / Re: Remo Darbuka or Pearl Darbuka?
« on: June 01, 2015, 08:01:24 AM »
It is so hard to get an accurate idea of sound quality from videos, it is impossible to tell which would be better because of so many variables affecting the video quality. I would really love to try a Remo darbuka someday because i have read so much hype about them but they are very expensive. The comments posted here from owners of Remo drums however is very interesting, thank you for sharing your thoughts! I have a Pearl darbuka with a Remo skin and love the sound it produces so i am happy with just this, but if someday i am ever able to try a Remo, i might get one too!

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