Buying the best Didgeridoo
Didgeridoo's are made of all sorts of materials; black poly pipe fiberglass, agave and various timbers. However the original didgeridoo's, and the genuine article still today, are made from termite hollowed eucalyptus tree trucks and have cave like looking inteiors (above). If you want a good quality didgeridoo with good sound that is going to last, then that is what you're looking for.
Didgeridoos made from bamboo (below right) have nowhere near the sound quality, are much more difficult to play and are far more likely to crack. Synthetic Digeridoos (below left) will not crack but they also do not compare in sound quality.
Length and key
The length of a didgeridoo directly corresponds with the pitch and note of the instrument. Shorter didgeridoos are generally easier to play for a beginner and fall between 100 and 150 cm. longer ones are available and give different sounds. Some may be more or less difficult to play depending on the internal structure, but when it comes down to it; personal preference plays a strong role in the selection.
You can get didgeridoos that are cut to different keys, the best being F, F#, E, D#, D, C#, C or B. You simply have to try a few at to find which one suits you best.
There are a lot of "genuine" Didgeridoos out there but quite a lot of them are made with no regards to quality and often have many imperfections. many suppliers will try to just sell you any old didgeridoo and won't point out the flaws. So here's what to look for
- Cracks. Wood expands and contracts with heat and so is prone to cracking if there are any imperfections. Cracks will ruin the sound quality of your Didgeridoo. The instrument heats up every time you play it so assume that you're not able to avoid this expansion and contraction. Cracks are typically found on the inside of the bell but may be visible on unpainted exterior surfaces as well.
- Holes. Almost all didgeridoos have holes or knots in them, and the supplier will likely fill them or cover them up. This is not a bad thing. What you have to make sure of is that the fill is of similar durability to the wood of the didgeridoo. If it is not close enough the fill will expand and contract at a different rate than the rest of the didgeridoo and will most likely cause cracking. If you have a genuine eucalyptus Didgeridoo the fill should be extremely hard and should not give way in the slightest when poked with a fingernail.
- Wall thickness. Look at the bottom around the bell and check for any major unevenness in the wall. It doesn't have to be perfect but if there's any place that looks thin enough to crack don't buy the didgeridoo.
- Varnish. A good didgeridoo should have at least two coats of varnish and should be treated on the inside as well. You should not see any raw wood when you look up the bell, so if you're going shopping, bring a flashlight.
- Storage. Aske if the supplier has use any particular techniques for preventing cracking of their Didgeridoos. Also see if they offer any guarantees or warranties.
One final note on buying a Didgeridoo is that if you can find a genuine aboriginal supplier; you can trust them to make a quality didgeridoo. It is a tradition for their way of life and you can support that by buying from them.