ABOUT THE DIDGERIDOO
This page contains information about the modern and authentic didgeridoos we carry. Although we don't claim that it is exhaustive, we hope it gives you a solid basic understanding of your instrument. If you need clarification or have something you feel would be useful to add, please contact us. We'd be happy to help!
How To Play Your Didgeridoo
Position and Technique - The didjeridu can be played while seated, standing. If you have heard an experienced didj player you are probably familiar with the variety of sounds that one can make with this simple instrument. Although you should not expect yourself to be making overtones and efficiently circular breathing all within 10 minutes of beginning to play, by following these instructions, and patiently practicing, you'll soon get the drone going.
- Step 1 - Warm up and loosen the lips by closing them softly and blowing air through, making the "motorboat" sound.
- Step 2 - When you feel warmed up, lightly place the lips on the beeswax mouthpiece. Most experienced players position the mouth slightly off center, but beginners may find it easier placing the lips squarely over the center of the mouthpiece.
- Step 3 - Begin with a small burst of air (like making a "puh" sound) and continue to buzz the lips. The most common mistake when learning to play is making the lips to tight and blowing too hard. Try to relax the lips as much as possible, and don't waste all of your breath in the first 5 seconds!
Step 4 - Once you can produce a steady drone, play around with different vowel sounds, changing the size of the mouth cavity, vocal noises and overtones, and continuous breathing.
How To Care for and Maintain Your Didgeridoo
- Transport and Exposure - Although your didjeridu is made with durability and mobility in mind, you should avoid exposing it to the elements for prolonged periods of time (dampness, rain, snow, etc.). Changes in humidity and altitude will not affect the instrument. You must NEVER LEAVE YOUR DIDJERIDU IN DIRECT SUNLIGHT or in a very warm room (including your car, near a heater vent, etc.) because the beeswax mouthpiece will melt. Don't use your didj as a lever, cane, bat, or weapon.
- Cleaning - Your didjeridu may be cleaned with a damp cloth, but don’t apply cleansing agents or other cleaning tools. Avoid playing with dirty hands or leaving your didj exposed to sand or soil.
- Maintenance - Should you want or need to remold the mouthpiece simply warm it under running warm water until it is the consistency of playdough or silly putty. Overwarming can cause it to become flakey, which should be avoided. When reinstalling the mouthpiece make sure there is a consistent seal around the entire top rim of the didj by pressing the beeswax firmly against the inside wall.
- Transport and Exposure - Eucalyptus is a very hard, dense wood, which makes it resiliant. However, you should care for your didgeridoo as you would any other valuable musical instrument. Do not expose your didj to rain, snow, or sand, and do not leave it in extreme conditions, such as very hot or very cold temperatures. You must NEVER LEAVE YOUR DIDJERIDU IN DIRECT SUNLIGHT or in a very warm room (including your car, near a heater vent, etc.) because the beeswax mouthpiece will melt. If you need to travel with your didj we would recommend a well padded travel bag, and some extra padding around the bell and mouth ends if you anticipate a rough journey. High impacts may crack the wood, and should be avoided.
- Cleaning - You may clean the outside of your didj with a damp cloth, but don't use any cleansing agents or scrubbing tools. After playing your eucalyptus didgeridoo for some time it may develop a unique odor due to the wood's absorption of the moisture in your breath. This is natural and will not damage your didgeridoo. If you would like to restore the natural eucalyptus smell you can use some essential oils, mixed with water, or other natural anticeptics such as tea tree oil. Spray a few squirts into the mouth end of your didj, and let it dry.
- RIGHT AWAY: When you first get your didjeridu it will need to adjust to its new home. Avoid playing for longer than 20 minutes at a time for the first week or so. This will give the wood inside the bore hole a chance to dry, and will prevent moisture buildup right away.
- LONG TERM: Your eucalyptus didgeridoo was treated with linseed oil before it was exported from Australia. The exterior was treated, as well as the inside. Some didjs were stained before they were oiled. With time the wood may appear dry, and perhaps could use another coat of linseed oil. However, as linseed oil is a hardening oil (i.e. when left exposed to air it will harden), it will serve to harden the wood after it has been absorbed. This will prevent future coats of linseed oil from soaking in, so only apply very thin coats, giving many months for the oil to fully dry and harden. You should not need to apply linseed oil more than once or twice more in its lifetime.
- SPLITS IN WOOD: All wood is hygoroscopic, meaning it readily takes up and releases water depending on relative humidity and exposure to moisture. In dryer climates your didj may develop some small hairline cracks on the bell or mouth end. These are inconsequential and will not affect the sound of the didj, and will often close up when in a more humid environment. And as you play the didj the moisture from you breath will be absorbed and released continually to some degree, and may eventually cause some splitting. Occassionally a check will develop that goes all the way through the wood, and allows air to escape. If this is the case you can seal the crack yourself by using one of the following methods:
- Soften pure beeswax and mold it into the crack. The wax will harden and seal up the leak. We have 1 OZ barsof beeswax available for this purpose.
- Super Glue works very well as a permanent fix. The wood will absorb the glue first, then the glue will build up to fill the hole. If the crack is too large to be filled with plain Super Glue, fill the split with fine sawdust, then soak the sawdust with the glue. This will create a very hard material that is permanently stuck to the didj. Sand down any lumps or rough surfaces.
- Size - The size of the opening does affect the playability and versatility: the larger the hole the easier to play, while a smaller hole facilitates circular breathing, sustained droning, and vocal tricks. Beginners will probably appreciate a large mouthpiece opening.
- Reshaping - When played for a long period of time the mouthpiece will soften because of the heat from the mouth. Taking small breaks and remolding the mouthpiece will solve the problem. Gently press the wax into the shape you want and let it cool until firm enough to play.
- Installing a new mouthpiece - Don't be intimidated! Installing or repairing a mouthpiece is very simple and intuitive. Follow the steps below for some basic guidelines, and feel free to experiment.
- HEAT AND ROLL: Heat the bar of wax by either placing it in warm water, heating in microwave on low for short amounts of time, or using a blow drier on light heat. Be careful to not allow the wax to melt, as this will alter the properties of the wax and make it less useable as a mouthpiece. It should be soft enough to easily mold.
- PREPARE DIDJ: Heat a small bit of wax until extremely soft, and smear this onto the end of the cleaned mouth end of the didj. Also apply to inside of bore hole about 1" down.
- INSTALL WAX ROLL: Making sure the wax on the mouth end, and the wax roll are warm and malleable, place roll onto didj end and push down firmly with thumb and index finger. Be sure to create a tight seal between the wax and the wood. The inside wall should have wax extending down about 1", gradually tapered from the top to the bottom.
- SMOOTH OUTSIDE LIP: Once you have a solid seal shape the outside of the wax. It shoud be rounded and comfortable to play. Make sure the size is optimal for your player level and preference.
- CLEAN IT UP: After getting the shape you want remove any excess wax from the outside that may be hanging over the wood or have uneven edges. You should be able to peel it off with your fingers, or you can use a knife for a cleaner line.
Brief History of the Didgeridoo
The didjeridu (did-jury-doo) is possibly the most ancient woodwind instrument known to man. The native Aborigines of Australia use the didjeridu in religious and traditional ceremonies, accompanying dancing, singing, and other percussion instruments. Many consider its soothing drone to be spiritually revitalizing and harmonizing with mother earth. Although originally made of tree branches hollowed out by termites, the didjeridu can now be found in bamboo, plastic, teak, and even cactus.