Best Didgeridoo Review in 2018
The didgeridoo, while a less common instrument, has a unique sound and slim structure that is pleasing to the eyes just as much as it can comfortably sit in the hands. Moving into the world of the didgeridoo is an exciting adventure, and this helpful guide will help you choose the best didgeridoo for your time and money.
What is a Didgeridoo?
The didgeridoo is a flute shaped instrument that hails from the aboriginal tribes of Australia. The tribal names for the instrument include Yidaki (or yirdaki) and mandapul (though these names are more tribe specific). "Didgeridoo" is thought to be derived from Western foreigners in the region who used the distinct sound of the instrument to name it. Today, didgeridoo is the most common name variation.
The shape of the didgeridoo has not changed much since its original conception around 1,500 years ago, sporting a long, cylindrical tube with one end flared out slightly and the other end narrowed to hold the mouthpiece. On average, a didgeridoo measures between 3 and 5 feet, though with modern innovation, there are plenty of size variations to be found.
Authentic didgeridoos are crafted from raw materials, especially hardwood. An aboriginal craftsman will go out and search for a hollow tree trunk, normally in a thinner tree like the many eucalyptus varieties available in Australia, that is cut out, cleaned, and shaped. At the narrower end of the trunk or branch, a permanent mouthpiece crafted out of beeswax or eucalyptus gum and usually under 2 inches in size is attached to the instrument.
Modern didgeridoos can be made out of nearly any material, including PVC piping, glass, fiberglass, metal, agave, clay, hemp, carbon fiber, and wood that has been split and put back together. The mouthpiece is made either out of beeswax, hardwood, or simple carved or sanded into the instrument itself. Each type of material creates its own unique sound, and it is up to the individual to decide which he or she prefers.
How is the Didgeridoo Played?
Didgeridoos require that a musician master "circular breathing," or a style of breathing that allows one to continue playing without having to stop to take a breath. With practice, a didgeridoo player should be able to maintain a sustained droning note for several minutes at a time. The lips maintain a persistent vibration on the mouthpiece while manipulation of the tongue, cheeks, lips, glottal muscles, and diaphragm can produce complex patterns and rhythms within the steady drone of the instrument.
Despite its seemingly simplistic design, the didgeridoo is highly complex and can be adapted to play a large variety of different tone and rhythms. A musician can even "sing" into the instrument to create an even more unique sounding melody. Modern brass and flute players are likely familiar with this technique, and should find mimicking it in a didgeridoo easy enough.
To give you an idea of what a didgeridoo can sound like, check out this video of didgeridoo master Quincey Matjaki Wunungmurra demonstrating how he plays the instrument.
What Should You Look for in a Didgeridoo?
Since there are so many authentic and modern variations of didgeridoos available, it is a good idea to do your research and educate yourself on what makes up the best didgeridoo for your investment. The following characteristics are a few of the different functions you can consider when choosing your didgeridoo.
The size of the didgeridoo determines how high or low sound will resonate through it, so knowing what kind of sound you want to produce is key when it comes to choosing the right instrument. A beginner would be better off sticking to a shorter instrument (between 40 and 58 inches in length) which is higher in pitch, but easier to control. A shorter didgeridoo is a good place to start practicing circular breathing techniques and proper mouth and diaphragm manipulation to create more varied tones.
The longer the didgeridoo, the deeper the sound...usually. With natural hardwood didgeridoos, the sound is often determined by the pattern that the termites make when they are hollowing out the branch or trunk. So a long didgeridoo, while meant to sound deep, may come off at a higher pitch depending on its internal construction. Modern didgeridoos that are not made out of wood do not have this same issue.
The Bell End
Some didgeridoos (though not all) will have a flared "bell" shaped end where the sound emits from while playing. The wider the bell end, the deeper the sound the instrument can produce. Wider bell ends also create a deeper, vibrating resonance that can often be felt throughout your body (like a deep bass on a speaker). Narrower bell ends reduce this resonance, though they can still reach lower notes if the instrument is long enough. And again, for natural hardwood didgeridoos, termite shaping may make bell ends appear different from instrument to instrument.
A wider bell end is not necessary to play a didgeridoo, but it will help create a deeper sound with more bass for those individuals interested in that kind of play style. Decide the kind of sound you would like to experience from your didgeridoo to determine whether or not a larger bell end is right for you.
Mouthpieces can either be permanently attached to the didgeridoo (such as as beeswax mouthpiece) or they can be built directly into the material that your didgeridoo is made out of. Many professional didgeridoo players prefer a beeswax mouthpiece because it is more comfortable, but whether or not this is necessary is more a matter of preference than sound quality or playing style. With many modern didgeridoo models, mouthpieces are often made of plastic or silicone.
The two primary shapes of didgeridoo are conical or cylindrical and can be either completely straight or have a slight curve to their design. A more curved didgeridoo is closer to the traditional style of the instrument and can create a more varied range of sound. Conical didgeridoos are those that have a larger bell end and generally require less air on your part to play. Cylindrical didgeridoos require more breath control but can create a good range of low bass tones.
The Best Didgeridoos of 2018
Meinl Percussion DDG1-R 47" Bamboo Didgeridoo
This straight, cylindrical didgeridoo is beautifully designed and comes in three different hand painted styles on either a red, brown, or black base. At 47 inches long, this is the perfect size for a beginner but can still be enjoyed by professionals. The bamboo construction makes this didgeridoo sturdy, and although it does not come with a mouthpiece, one can be attached if desired.
World Percussion USA Hand Crafted
At 52 inches long and 2 inches wide, this didgeridoo is still in the "beginner" range of the instrument and will offer a higher pitched sound than a longer version. The didgeridoo is hand crafted from a mix of natural and synthetic materials to make it more durable than just wood and is waterproof and more lightweight than wood. The instrument comes with a beeswax mouthpiece as well as a beeswax mouthpiece replacement kit so that you can better customize your own mouthpiece, if desired. The sellers of this instrument claim to use some of the proceeds toward the "Africa Heartwood Project."
World Percussion USA Hand-fired Modern Digeridoo
This didgeridoo is 45.5 inches long and 1.5 inches wide, is lightweight, and is the perfect instrument for a beginner to get the feel for this complex yet intriguing instrument. The didgeridoo is made from a mix of natural and synthetic materials which makes it waterproof and more durable than wood alone. At the narrow end of the didgeridoo, the mouthpiece is carved into the material and dipped in beeswax to create a comfortable seal. The sellers of this instrument claim to use some of the proceeds toward the "Africa Heartwood Project."
Toca DIDG-CTS Curved Didgeridoo
This 50 inch long didgeridoo comes in either a "tribal" design or a "gecko" design, both of which are handsome and hand painted. The shape of the instrument has a slight curve to represent a more traditional style of didgeridoo, and it has a slightly flared bell end for more resonance. It is made out of a synthetic material with a plastic mouthpiece, and is highly affordable. Perfect for the beginner looking to get a good idea of how to play the instrument without spending too much money.
TDS Modern Didgeridoo
This didgeridoo is made of a highly durable polyresin and has a silicone mouthpiece. The instrument is 47 inches long with a 1.75 inch diameter and a 2.5 inch bell end opening. The outer shell has been painted with a mix of a natural wood like design and tribal like stripes. The length of the didgeridoo is slightly curved to match a more traditional shape and sound. As an added bonus, the didgeridoo is inexpensive and comes with a cloth bag, instruction booklet, and an instructional DVD with exercises and playing methods to help the buyer learn how to use this intriguing instrument.
Not only is the TDS Modern Didgeridoo FDTREE a quality instrument at an affordable price, but it comes with the tools that any beginner will find highly welcome and usable to get started learning how to play this tribal instrument. The instructional booklet includes plenty of useful advice on how to hold and use the instrument, and the DVD has over two hours of instructional content that will help you learn how to breathe correctly while using the didgeridoo.
The didgeridoo itself has a visually pleasing design: the polyresin is decorated to look like a natural wood with what appear to be tribal designs, and there is a slight curve to the didgeridoo that makes it resemble a more traditional version. The 47 inch length is perfect for beginners and for creating a higher pitched sound range, it has a slightly flared bell end that creates a deeper resonance, and it comes with a silicone mouthpiece while, not necessary, make playing the instrument more comfortable. This TDS Modern Didgeridoo FDTREE Package Deal with free booklet, DVD, and cloth bag is the best choice for the musical enthusiast looking for an excellent place to start exploring the musical art of the didgeridoo.