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Best Djembe Drums 2024: 14 African Drums That Sound Authentic!!

The lowdown on African drums - what are the best Djembe drums you can buy?

Hunting down the best djembe drums is is no easy task, especially today, when you can pick up one of these eccentric African drums virtually anywhere online.

Why all comes back to their popularity, which despite their traditional routes, has spiked over recent years. Djembes are believed to have originally come about in the 12th Century & much like their nickname suggests, originated from the western regions of Africa. Although despite their early roots, they have taken a LONG time to catch on in the Western world.

Djembes became ‘a thing’ for most of us through the hippy movement + the birth of reggae in the 1960s. Since which, these drums have become a vital addition to any party, carnival or even school. Yep – even music tutors are now familiar with these African drums!! Then again, being one of the core foundations of music, it makes sense that they’re a piece of kit that should be on everyone’s radar. In which case, if you’re asking questions like, what’s the best size for a djembe? Or perhaps, which is the best djembe drum for beginners? Read on & we’ll reveal all.

After something specific about the best djembe drums? Or just curious as to how much djembe drums cost? Use the menu below to find the answers you need in 1 click…

African man playing a djembe drum

NOTE: Interested in drumming? Be sure to also check out our reviews of the Best Djembe Stands + (if you’re shopping for kids) Good Value Junior Drum Sets.

Finding the best djmebe drum ain’t as easy as it sounds.

See, there’s no shortage of African drums out there, all with their own variants in terms of design, size & (of course) tone. Combine that with the various types of skins you can get on a djmebe + the fact some are made in Africa, while others are assembled in the USA, & pinpointing the best djembe suddenly becomes a LOT more tricky than you first imagined.

But no matter – we’ve done the hard work for you. So, if you fancy getting clued-up on everything African drums, read on to discover our picks for the best djembe drum + our reasoning why…

1: Meinl Percussion Djembe (12″)

2: Toca Freestyle Canon Djembe (14″)

assortment of drums

3: Latin Percussion World Collection Djembe (7″)

4: Remo DJ-0016-05 Mondo Djembe Drum (16″)

5: Littlefun Percussion Hand Painted Djembe (10″)

6: Toca TF2DJ-12R Freestyle II Rope Tuned Djembe (12″)

African drums being played by a group of percussionists

7: Kmise African Djembe (8″)

8: Meech Djembe Drum (10″)

9: Lotmusic Djembe African Drum (10″)

10: B.N.D TOP Goat Skin Djembe

drummers hitting a djembe

Just to be clear, cheap djembes are nothing to rave about.

In fact, we’d encourage you to stay away from them the best you can. As a long term instrument, a cheap djembes really aren’t worth it. But, if you’re simply looking to get a feel for a djembe or you’re a student who’s a bit strapped for cash, then opting for one of these first is actually a wise idea.

So with that in mind, here’s the best cheap djembe we’d recommend…

11: Stoneage Arts Djembe Drum

Yep – if you’re a Vegan, that doesn’t mean your love for animals has to get in the way of your love for music. This pick from Remo is proof of that.

However, do bear in mind that because vegan products are (A) on trend & (B) typically cost more to manufacture, a vegan djembe will likely come at a premium. With that in mind, here’s the vegan friendly djembe we suggest you check out…

12: Remo DJ-6112-32 Apex Djembe Drum

rhythm being beaten into the skin of a drum

HEADS UP: if you’re searching for a kids djembe, there’s a slight difference you should be aware of. Size. See, just like a lot of instruments aimed at younger children, junior djembes are significantly smaller. BUT that’s not to say they’re jut for kids…

In many cases, the best djembe drum for you may be an instrument of this size. So before you write off kids djembe, read on to discover our 2 top picks…

13: Meinl Percussion Mini Djembe (NOT made in China!)

14: ArtCreativity 16 Inch Wooden Drum Set (with sticks)

djembe drums for sale

Tricky one this.

We say so because what’s the best djembe drum really all comes back to what sort of player you are. No two drummers are the same after all. So when it comes to outlining the ‘best’ djembe drums, we figured it’d be a bit closed-minded to just conclude with one.

So we haven’t… our verdict consists of 3 djembes.

In which case then, if you’re looking to use a djembe as a casual instrument, then we’d say the way to go would be the…

Latin Percussion Circle (7″) = Best Djembe For Casual Drumming

That’s because as far as casual drums go, this African drum pretty much ticks all the boxes. It’s of a decent size & comes with a good quality skin, which allows you to achieve a solid breadth of notes & tones. Yet for what it is, it’s not actually that pricy. At the time of writing this blog, it’s price is on par with many kids djembes!!

Plus, the fact it comes in a rainbow of colours means there’s a solid chance it’ll tick the boxes visually too. We like drums (especially a djembe) that doesn’t take itself too seriously & that’s exactly what the Circle does – it’s an ideal all-rounder.

With that though, if you are a keen drummer who’s looking to pursue djembe to a professional level, then we’d suggest you consider the…

TOCA Black Mamba (14″) = Best Djembe Drum For Keen Drummers

As far as ‘BIG’ & ‘full’ sounds go, this djembe is up there with the best. Then again, you expect nothing less from a specialist drum brands like Toca. Ask us & the skin on this drum is what sets it apart. It’s firm, yet not overly firm, which gives it a nice sharp response that allows you to be very precise about how you play.

And yet, being a whopping 14″, there’s no shortage to the amount of sounds you can eeek out of this drum. Something that (if take advantage of) can add an incredible amount of depth to your sound. This drum has ‘live performance’ written all over it.

Saying that though, if your idea of the best Djembe drum is more geared towards size & practicality, then a smaller kids-size djembe may be all you need. We’re particular fans of the…

Meinl HDJ5-XXS Mini (4.5″) = Best Portable Djembe/ For Kids

A miniature 4″ djembe, which is ideal for travel, or if you’re just not so keen on big djembes. So while obviously you won’t be able to get as much tone out of this drum than a larger professional model – drawback of a smaller skin – it still puts up a good fight.

As with most small djembes, the sound tends to be sharper. That being said though, once you get to know this drum, you can achieve a solid range of tones. Perks of being made by Meinl – a renowned manufacturer of percussion kit, that’s especially well known for their djembes.

Not to mention the fact that this African drum (unlike larger variants) also makes for a quirky piece of interior decor. Or at least we think so. Those who have Buddha’s scattered around their house will likely catch our drift. In which case, you could even claim it’s a 2-in-1. A practical piece of interior decor.

Food for thought.

Enjoyed what you’ve read about the best Djembe drums, and eager for more? Don’t miss out on the rest of our Percussion Instrument Reviews + all of our know-how on Musical Instruments. Recently, we also did a rundown of the Best Snare Drum Stands + another on the best Drum Throne, which may also be a good read.

craftsman carving the wood of a djmebe drum

Or, if you’ve still got a burning question about African drums, keep reading to discover even more about why Djembe’s are so great & what they’re used for…

Djembe drums are used primarily for 2 reasons…

  • To perform music – The most common setting in which you’ll find a djembe drum is as part of some sort of musical performance, be that as part of a band, at a wedding or during a carnival. Traditionally, Djembes were also played when settling disagreements among a town’s men, but something tells us that today (at least in the western world at least) that’s no longer a thing. If so, every MP would take a djembe with them to the Houses of Parliament – right?
  • For decoration – In today’s world of rustic chic & cultured design, a djembe can be a great addition to the home. A piece of interior decor that’s not only quirky, but practical too.

The cost of a djembe really all depends on what sort of drum you opt for.

You can generally pick up cheap djembe drums for as little as £50, while something more professional will come at slightly more of a premium. For the average drummer, we’d say a budget of between £100 – £200 would be realistic. Although some rare or professional models can retail for more!

It’s worth noting that mass produced djembes are likely to be cheaper. Good if you’re just after a casual instrument, but if you’re after a precision instrument, then we’d say you’d be better spending that bit extra for something more professional. Drums by Remo, Meinl or Toca tend to be good picks, especially if you plan to use the drum regularly for the long term.

As you’d expect, the cost also impacts the quality of the wood used to make the drum + the craftsmanship/ design involved in the manufacturing process too. So if you’re after a rich breadth of tone & a drum with a lot of feel, promise us one thing… avoid cheap djembes.

If that’s your expectation then you’ll likely be unsatisfied.

How hard it is to play the djembe really all depends on how musically minded you are + whether you’ve had a lot/ any past experience with percussion instruments.

If the answer’s “no” then chances are Djembe will take you significantly longer to pick up. Usually it takes beginners around 1-2 years to get into swing of being a drummer. And from then, anywhere up to 2-5 years to reach a level of pro-competency.

Remember: As much as drums may appear to be an easy instrument, the way they’re played makes them actually quite hard. In most pieces of music drummers have a HUGE reasonability on their shoulders, as they’re solely responsible for the timing of each piece of music. Hence why professional drummers can earn a fair amount of £££. As without their accuracy & rhythm, a piece of music would just fall apart.

Djembe is spelt much like it appears, apart from 1 things. The ‘D’ sound is completely silent, so it’s pronounced “Jem-Bay”, opposed to “De-Jem_Bay”.

The word itself originates from the French “dje” which is the verb meaning ‘to gather’, with the “be” part of the word translating as ‘peace’. Perhaps why djembes are in a stereotypical sense, loved by hippies?

Djembe drums are often associated with African cultures because that’s where they originated.

In fact, the djembe drum comes from the same place as rapping. That being the Griots of West Africa, who used a djembe in conjunction with rapping to tell stories, fables & proverbs. Music that would also be used as a backing to dances & other types of performances.

For instance, you’d find djmebe’s used to hallmark significant events, such as festivals to do with harvest or to celebrate occasions like weddings, births & even funerals. Today, you can use a djembe in pretty much any setting!!

This is where the deal with djembes starts to differ.

See, while 99% of drummers aspire to be a ‘pro drummer’, master players of the djembe don’t associate with such a title. Instead they’re what’s known as a ‘djembefola‘. In other words, masters of the djembe drum, who’re very intricate & highly praised for how they play.

A difference that we think has come about because of how djembe players use their hands, opposed to drumsticks, to create their sound. An entirely different skill in itself.

Which djembe is the best to buy, really all comes back to what you value in a drum. Here’s just a few things to consider before swiping your card…

  • Size of the drum – This is arguably ‘the’ main factor to pay attention to when buying a djembe, as not only can it dictate it’s purpose (i.e. portable or not), but it can also influence the sound quite heavily. The general rule being that the smaller the djembe, the less variance of tone you’ll get. Although factors like drum-skins & wood type can also affect that.
  • Build quality & craftsmanship – When it comes to buying a djembe, this is ultimately what you’re paying for. It’s this which is why drums by the likes of Remo & Meinl can be quite pricey, yet are extremely popular amongst serious drummers. Unlike cheap djembes, they’re made to last & in most cases be a one-time purchase. So if you’re hunting for a long term instrument, do consider spending that bit extra if it gets you a better quality drum. Who knows – in the end, it may even work out cheaper!!
  • Budget – Ah yes – money. Now, the RRP of a djembe is something we’d encourage you to take with a pinch of salt, be you after a pro djembe or the best djembe for beginners. That’s because, cheap drums that aren’t made to decent standard, can actually end up making the process of learning the djembe even harder. Think of it as trying to hammer a fence into the ground with a tack hammer.

PRO TIP: Always judge a djembe by its value, not its price.

The size of djembe which is best for you, really all depends on how you intend to play it.

Plan on playing it whilst sat & you may need a shorter djembe than you would whilst standing. This especially applies with kids, although don’t forget, if you want to get a drum that’s more adult size, they can stand up to play it too.

Typical djembes measure in at between 22 & 25 inches in height (although for miniature models this will of course be less). Something to bear in mind before you buy a djembe, especially if it’s going to be a gift.