Djembe Microphone Techniques

The djembe (a type of drum) is a great musical instrument that blends well into the church worship setting.  However, microphone placement for the djembe is not a hard and fast rule.  Here are the guidelines you can use for providing the best amplification.

Djembes are either mic’d with a single microphone from above or with two microphones.  The difference in techniques is primarily about the amount of low end signal.  Mic’ing the top of a djembe gives plenty of the slap sound associated with the drum.  However, there isn’t much in the way of the bass.

Some songs don’t lend themselves to the low bass of the djembe.  In this case, the single top microphone is used.

Using the two microphone method, use a condenser microphone for the top microphone.  Place it 1-2 inches from the drum head.  You can pick up a drum mic clip that will hold it on the djembe.  Next, using a microphone like the Sennheiser 421 or an AKG D112 (dynamic microphones, place it near the bottom of the djembe.  I’m dealing here with a djembe on a stand.  Don’t place the microphone up and inside the djembe. Place it near the bottom and angle it in a bit.  This part requires trial and error until you get the bass sound the way you like.

Using the two microphone method, you can now brighten your slaps via the top microphone and adjust your bass sounds using the lower microphone.  Take out a lot of the midrange and highs from the bottom microphone.  When you listen to just the bottom microphone, you’ll hear a muddy soundOnce you add in that top microphone, you’ll get the crisp, fat drum sound you want.

I’ve used both methods.  I prefer the two microphone method.  It sounds much fuller.  The difference is surprising.


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