Djembe Repair

In addition to studying and performing on djembe, I have been re-heading and re-building djembes and other hand drums since 2001. I have learned from teachers and builders from Mali, Guinea, Senegal, and the US, and have made 4 trips to West Africa to study with master musicians and builders. 

There's nothing like bringing a drum's voice back from it's silence!

Need a repair done? Here's how it works. 

  • Continue reading below to get more familiar with the process and the costs. 
  • Send me an inquiry through my Contact Page, and tell me about your drum and repair needs. 
  • I will respond with initial thoughts and an invitation to send me photos of your drum via text or email. 
  • You will then receive an initial estimate and/or recommendations.
  • We'll set up a date/time for drop-off, or you can ship your drum to me (see shipping section below).
  • Once I receive and inspect it fully, I'll update the estimate and go over it with you.
  • Upon agreement of the estimate, I'll begin work and send you updates (if you like).
  • When complete, we'll set up a date/time for you to pick up your drum and payment is due in full at this time. For shipped drums, payment is due when you receive your drum safe and sound. Cash, PayPal, Venmo, and Check are all acceptable. 


Re-heading is different for every djembe, so in order to estimate the cost I need to inspect it first. The typical questions I ask are:

  • Is the rope the right size, good quality, and reusable?
  • Are the 3 (or 4) steel rings a good fit?
  • Is the bottom ring steel or wire or something else?
  • Is the bearing edge smooth and the correct profile?
  • Are there any cracks that need fixing?


The base price, including all labor and a new goatskin [thin or medium] is $130.

Thick goatskins cost a bit more, so that is added to the total price. If I have done your drum before, you get a 10% discount! Yay!

This base price includes:

  • a new goat skin (for calf/cow, or thick goat skin, contact me to discuss)
  • repairing minor cracks
  • oiling the shell if needed
  • minor sanding/cleaning of the bearing edge
  • all labor and materials for the above


  • Hair: choose between hairless goatskin, shaved to a stubble, or with regular hair. If you have a specific hair color, let me know. I usually have black, brown, and off-white in stock.
  • Thickness: choose between thin, medium (default), or thick (special order).
  • Skin Finish: choose how you would like the skin to be finished: cuff/flapover style, with a twist, or trim style (see photo to right [if you're reading this on a computer] or below [mobile]).


If your djembe needs new rope:

  • For verticals: add $15 for whole drum. For drums with more than 30 loops/hitches - $20.
  • For new cradles: $15 per ring. Includes new fabric wrap if desired (usually a good idea!)

I typically have several colors of 4.5mm - 5mm rope in stock, or I can source it from area stores or websites (cost will be a little higher) for specific colors and sizes. I also sometimes offer used rope in good condition for 1/2 the price (verticals only). This is rope I've taken off other drums that is still in great condition and I'd love to keep out of the landfill.


If your djembe needs new rings:

  • New rings are 1/4" cold-rolled steel rod and $20 per ring. I roll, weld, and finish them in-house.
  • Resizing rings are also $20 per ring.
  • If your current rings just need simple grinding or filing sharp edges, this is included in the basic repair price.

Additional Services:

  • Complete re-shaping and preparing the bearing edge - $75
  • Total shell sanding and refinishing - $125 (several choices of finishes). If your shell has decorative carvings, there may be additional cost due to the added difficulty of working with carvings.
  • Repairing major cracks - $25/hr + cost of special materials [epoxy, wood filler, etc]. Major cracks are cracks that go all the way through the shell and the wood moves substantially when pressure is applied. This also covers holes through the shell, or other catastrophic conditions.  
  • Adding tack decoration - $25/hr - Let's talk!

Tune Up:

If your drum just needs a tune-up, this service is billed hourly ($25/hr) with a minimum charge of $20, depending on the complexity and time it takes. For example, if you just need the head tightened with the weave technique or "diamonds", this is quick and cheap. If you need your drum's rope loosened completely and re-pulled, this is more expensive. If it's a simple 10-minute job, it'll be no charge. I'm also glad to teach you how to do this so you'll have the skill for the future.


For re-heads, I can usually get your drum done in 2 weeks or less, depending on the weather, my schedule, and the queue of instruments at the time. Your drum will be returned to you tight and sounding great! I'll also advise you on how to take care of your djembe, including wood and goatskin care. If you need a faster turn-time, I can sometimes accommodate that.

Shipping Your Drum:

If you are not in my area and still would like to discuss a repair involving shipping your drum: all repair charges are the same, and there is an added $20 handling fee per drum (this is due to the added work and time it takes to pack and ship). I suggest that you double-box your drum and/or make sure you pack it really well: enclose the drum in a waterproof plastic garbage bag, choose a strong corrugated cardboard box and use lots of padding inside. I will reuse this box and packing material when I return your drum, otherwise a new box and padding will be added to your total.

My current preferred shipping service is UPS Ground. For an average sized/weight djembe, the cost is usually around $55. Arranging pre-paid return shipping is a plus. My clients have had success with UPS and FedEx using this method. If you'd like to estimate your shipping, use Pittsboro, NC, 27312. 

Other Types of Repairs:

Yes, I do plenty of other types of instrument repairs! I repair ashikos, koras (my other specialty besides djembes), ngonis, congas, bongos, kalimbas, and other hand percussion instruments. Just get in touch, as each of these jobs are unique and require all different kinds of work.

To Schedule:

To inquire about a repair, just get in touch using the Contact page. My studio workshop is in Pittsboro, NC, 27312 (population 4,712!)


have you ever wondered what goes into a complete djembe repair? Watch this!

Will working in his previous studio on a djembe pulling table from

A djembe built with a build-your-own kit from Drumskull Drums, with added ksink-ksink.

Skin Finishes! Here are 3 examples of skin finishing styles: "Cuff" style has a nice flap of skin folded over the hitches, "Trim" style is where the skin is cut exposing the hitches, and "Twist" style is where some excess skin is twisted to form a pleasing look and comfort rim between the bearing edge and the hitches.

Two previous repairs (djembe and ashiko) for Victor Wooten's Center for Music and Nature.

Djembe Tuning! 

Below are a few of my favorite videos that help explain how to tune your djembe, the first one by Mohamed DaCosta from Boke, Guinea, he second by Michael Taylor in Chicago, and the third (and most thorough!) by Kelvin Kew in Singapore.