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Didgionary

Webshop Characteristics

Weight
The weight of a didgeridoo is a good way to see if the instrument will resonate well. See more about the effects of weight in wood thickness.
Length
For didgeridoos with a cylindrical shape the longer the didge the lower the key. For conical-shaped didgeridoos this does not apply. The greater the angle in which the didge deviates from its cylindrical straightness, the higher the instrument will go in tone. That’s why high-tone conical didgeridoos can be longer in length and also higher in tone. Read more about this in info on high tone conical didgeridoos.
Mouth
The mouth of a didgeridoo generally causes the fullness of the sound. Basically you can say that wideness of the first 30 cm of the didgeridoo is responsible for the fullness of the sound. With a narrow beginning of the instrument, trumpet tones will be more. When the beginning of the instrument is wider it will cause the instrument to have a more full sound. You could say a warmer sound and overtones come out more clearly. But for more advanced playing techniques a more narrow mouth and column (first 30 cm) are advisable.
Mouth piece
There are mouth pieces made of wax and waxless mouth pieces. Some didgeridoos are small enough to have no wax to shape a mouth piece. Some people prefer no wax. Some people only put wax in the inside of their didge and not on top. You can also enhance the pressure of the didge and make trumpet tones easier by putting wax inside the instrument to make the column thinner. The mouth piece of the instrument is measured from the inside and without the wax.
Bell
The bottom of a didgeridoo is called the bell. But a bell bottom is a didgeridoo with an exaggerated bell. The exaggerated bell of a didgeridoo mainly works as a sound box. The actual didge is also shorter than a didge of the same length but no bell. Big bells often have more an aesthetic appearance. Read more about bells in info on bells / big bells in the webshop.
Wood thickness
Too much wood thickness causes a didgeridoo to become to heavy and can have a negative effect on the resonance and volume of the instrument. Not enough wood thickness can cause a didgeridoo to shake or vibrate too much (like bamboo didgeridoos). For higher keys the wood thickness becomes very important to hold the presure that is blown through the inner column. See more in Shaking / vibrating bell and didge.
Key
The key of the didgeridoo is the tone of the instument. The keys vary from D to D (D, D#, E, F, F#, G, G#, A, A#, B, B#, C, C#, D) or Do, Re, Mi, Fa, So, La, Ti, Do.
Low keys / tones are A, A#, B, B#, C
Mid tones are C#, D, D#
High tones are E, F, F#, G, G# A, A#.
The last 4 tones are very high for a didgeridoo and not used by the average didge player. Mid tones are easiest for beginners. High tones for fast rhythms and low tones for meditative or relaxed playing.
Trumpet
The trumpet tones in the characteristics field are shown in chronological order when blowing them on the instrument. The trumpet tones are the tones that can be produced by squeezing your lips and blow with extra pressure like you do when blowing a normal trumpet. The more you squeeze and the harder you blow the higher the trumpet tones come out of the didge. Some didgeridoos can produce more than 3 trumpet tones easily. Others, depending on the strength and skills of the player, can produce up to seven trumpet tones. Trumpet tones are often shortly mixed trough a rhythm pattern. Also in traditional east Arnhem land, playing trumpet tones are rapidly mixed through the complex rhythmic patterns. Didgeridoos that produce trumpet tones more easily are advisable for advanced playing, but these didgeridoos might not sound as ‘full’ or ‘harmonious’ for the meditative player or low-key player.

Sounds

Dry sound
I often hear the expression ‘dry sound’ or ‘tradtional sound’. It often refers to a high-tone didgeridoo, often in the key F, F# or G. The dryness comes from the sound of wood that is produced with high-tone didgeridoos. There is a lot more pressure on the wood which creates a more wooden sound. Also old recordings of tradional playing have this dry sound. Or properly cured wood helps to resonate the wood (old instruments). A general mistake that often is made, is that the term dry can be mistaken with a ‘dull sound’ wich comes from muffled didgeridoos or didgeridoos that have mud inside or just have very dry wood inside or dryrot. The instrument will not sing or resonate as much. A dry didge might sound very good after been played for a while. The wood will soak up the moist from your breath and the wood will start to sing more. Another bad dry sound or dull sound comes from too much wood thickness. Too much meat, the Australians say. The real traditional dry sound does sing, resonate, overtone and makes almost a tearing sound. Maybe even a crispy sound!
Traditional sound
See Dry sound.
Dry singing sound
The didge / wood starts to resonate in a way that it sounds like the whole didge is singing. See Dry sound.
Clear treble sound
The term ‘clear sound’ is often used if a didge has nothing inside to obstruct the sound. Or other reasons that can make the sound dull. Clear also means that the bass does not drown the overtones. It does not have to be specifically a warm sound. But clear with the treble floating on the top. When using your voice or other sounds they come out very clear. On the surface you might say. What can make a didgeridoo less clear is a chamber somewhere in the didge where the sound and pressure sort of stays. A sort of feeling like the sound comes from somewhere inside the didge instead of blown out of the bell!
Bassy sound
The term bassy sound comes from instruments that have more of a deep drone. Not a low tone! Low tone has a lower frequenty. But a deep or bassy tone comes from a bigger inner column. If a didge gets rapidly wider 50 to 40 cm from the end it can start to produce a more loud and bassy sound. The deepness of the bass comes more from the width of the total instrument.
Drowning overtones in bass sound
This happens when a didge is going too rapidly wider to very wide to its bottom or bell bottom. The flare misses the gradual widening wich causes bass to dominate the instrument’s overtones. It is like they are drowning in it. The ‘back’ pressure is released too quickly. These instruments sound very powerful but they can actually not hold too much pressure and can also make an irritating ‘whoa sound’. This is a sound that comes when you give extra pressure. Although some people like it!
Turbulent instability
This happens when the conical shape is too rapidly changing in the column. Just like the bassy-sounded didges they release their pressure to quickly. But the difference with a bassy-sounded didge is that after the release the instrument does not go ‘rapidly’ wider but more gradual. So the pressure is tried to be maintained again after it’s released. That causes instability of the airflow and a feeling that the didge is stopping everytime you give less pressure or take a breath. It does not want to continue as much and does not want to keep its tone as easily constant. Just like the bassy didges. These instruments can sound very powerful but they can actually not hold too much pressure and can also make an irritating ‘whoa sound’. This is a sound that comes when you give extra pressure. Although some people like it!
Other reasons for turbulent instabilty can come from chambers in the column or mufflers etc.
Back pressure
This is a very generalized term for didgeridoos that need more pressure to play them. Although the back pressure of a low-tone didgeridoo can also be better or worse. But saying, I am looking for a low-tone didgeridoo with a lot of back pressure, makes no sense. The lower the tone of the didgeridoo the less presure is needed to make it go. If the back pressure is nicely balanced then the consistency of the airflow comes out better. Also you have ‘more time’ to ‘grasp’ or use your techniques or accents. It is like the instrument holds its pressure firmly and gives you time to mix your variations of accents through the rhythm or breathing pattern. High-tone extended conicals slow down the speed of the airflow a lot. So you can use your techniques faster in a way.
Pressurizing
By pressurizing we mean that not only is an instrument fine-tuned to balance the tone, but also it is taking care of the back pressure of an instrument. To create a fluent back pressure the air that is speeded up through the inner column must gradually find its way out. By gradually we mean not released too quickly by expanding the width of the column too fast. An instrument that expands too fast creates too much bass and ‘drowns’ the overtones. More so, an in-turbulent airflow can occur which makes the instrument unstable and not continuous in its fluency. The back pressure fluctuates and circular breathing becomes irregular. When a didge is pressurized well, it feels like it wants to go by itself. Not slowing down or a feeling of a gap when circular breathing.
Crispy sound
This comes from a properly cured didge. Also the column is nice and ‘clean’ (no obstructions). The sound bounces in the column and the surface is hard from lacker or just hard wood and the body or wood thickness of the didgeridoo is thick enough. It is almost like the term ‘clear sound’ but I use crispy also for higher tones and nice overtones. The emphasis of this sound comes from the hard surface in the column. See also Dry sound.
Tearing and roaring sound
See also dry sound. It is just as if the instrument is torn apart. The wood sound comes out very strong from the pressure that goes through it. Definitely a high-tone didgeridoo characteristic. G didgeridoos have this if they are well made and not dull. It is almost like you can hear the wood of the didge itself more than the sound that comes out of the bottom! Hard woods have this character more.
Sideway sound
I am not sure if this can be heard. But I like the idea of hearing the wood sound coming from the sideway of the didge. See also Tearing and roaring sound.
Muffled sound
This happens when the column goes from wider to narrower instead of vice versa. Many didges have this because the termites seem to first go through a smaller hole at the bottom of the didge and start to eat more wide. It does depend on the wood type or tree. And also from which height you cut the tree. Some say you should cut the stem 40 cm or more from the ground and that the shape of the didge will be better and the tree has more chance to regenerate. Others like to cut more from the bottom to have more flare or bell. Then again, often land owners do not like the stems sticking out of the ground for fear of their tyres. Anyway our didgeridoos do not have these mufflers because we will chisle them out if they are there. If a didgeridoo has a muffler, it feels like the pressure is falling down all the time. It has the sound of an airplane that falls down from the sky when you are taking another breath.
Voluminous sound
This just refers to a didgeridoo that produces a loud sound with not too much effort. Usually buskers will want this. High-tone didgeridoos are often more loud then low-tone didgeridoos. The size of the bell does not have to implicate that the didge will be extra voluminous in sound. Most of our higher-tone instruments have a voluminous sound but some have an exceptionally loud sound!
Full sound
See harmonious sound.
Loud sound
See voluminous sound.
Basic drone /sound
The basic drone is the sound that is been made by basic or normal playing. It is also what categorizes the tone of the instrument. It does not contain voices, toots (trumpet) or other sound effects. Warm sound.
Harmonious sound
The term full or harmonious sound is often used for didges that have a medium or bigger mouthpiece or just beginning of the column of the didge. Because the sound travels through a wider column there is more space for a fuller sound. Voices and overtones can come out more clearly. There is less pressure and so the sound also echoes more on its walls in the column. Depending on the techniques you would like to use a wider column in the beginning. Comes in all categories of didgeridoos. Smaller columns make trumpet tones and and other techniquess like jaw movements more easily. Read more about this in the webshop on info on the different categories of didgeridoos or how to choose.
Richer sound
Same as harmonious and full sound. Though you can imagine that a didgeridoo with mud inside that has not been cleaned out properly, can have a poor sound!
Poor sound
We do not sell didgeridoos with a poor sound although it is more common that an original termite-hollowed instrument will have a poor sound than a normal sound. Most didgeridoos in Australia are sold for its decorative looks. Many Australian shops see it more as a souvenir than an instrument. Just like the boomerangs that do not come back!
Amplified sound
See voluminous sound.
High tone
See key.
Low tone
See key.
Sharp tone
See clear sound. Sharp can also refer to a sharp sound that comes from very dense wood. The sharpness comes from the fact that the instrument does not vibrate as much as with a lighter wood. Most of our instruments will have a sharp tone anyway. Not like bamboo or other lighter woods or badly-made eucalyptus or softer eucalyptus that grows more in the southern regions of Australia.
Ground tone
See basic drone.
Overtone
This refers to an echo or a tone that you can here on top of the ground tone. It is usually experienced as a pleasent sound that harmonizes the overall tone or sound of the instrument. I am not a sound specialist so I cannot exactly describe what an overtone is in general. But if I find somebody that does I will add it to this description. Some people call the trumpet tone or tooth the overtone. But that’s not the sound for what I use the term for.
Dense-wood sound
The wood density makes the instrument resonate in a certain way. The denser the wood, the more pressure it can hold. High-tone instruments benefit from this tremendously. Very dense wood can have a tearing and singing sound. Most of the woods used for didgeridoos are softer wood although we do not use the softer woods for our instruments. The denser wood is also what can make eucalyptus didgeridoos more powerful and voluminous. Read more about wood densities in the different eucalyptus types for didgerdidoos.
Light-wood sound
Original didgeridoos in a lighter colour usually have a lighter wood. Less density than didgeridoos in a darker red or brown colour. Although the didgeridoo can be made of the same tree as a darker wood didgeridoo. It can be that the termites have eaten all the red wood out of the inside so that only the sap wood remains. Eucalyptus wood has its sap wood on the outside of the tree, not in the centre like a lot of European trees. It can also be that light-coloured didgeridoos are light in colour on the outside but red and hard on the inside. Many didgeridoos are red with a white flare. That’s because the bell or flare of the instrument is wider and goes into the outside sap wood of the tree. Softer or lighter wood grows in southern regions of Australia. The harder wood comes more from the tropical and top-end drier regions.
Many self-made split didgeridoos or bamboo etc. are light in colour and have a softer density. The sound can be less sharp or clear and the body often has not got the strength to hold drone properly. Especially with the higher notes you can here the density difference. The instrument will ‘shake’ more. This does not imply that there are not very beautiful self-made instruments made by professional makers. For some it is even a matter of taste.
Shaking / vibrating bell
Generally speaking this comes from a wall that is too thin on the end or bell of a didge. Other reasons can come from a sudden widening of the flare of the instrument. It can limit the instrument’s power and have an irritating effect that you are held back in your speed. Also see drowning overtones in bass sound and turbulent instability.
Shaking / vibrating didge
This is the opposite of a shaking / vibrating bell. The bell or flare of the instrument is too heavy so the instrument is not well ‘balanced’. When playing a didge that has this effect, dominating the flow of the didge you experience that you are limited in your speed or volume. You can have the feeling that the top of the didge is vibrating against your mouth. This comes from the vibration in the wood that is sent back up because the heavier wood on the bell is not letting the vibration free. It can also have the same effect as a muffler in the didge although that’s worse. On lower keys the heavier bell has less effect than on higher keys. Generally speaking higher didgeridoos react a lot more on every sort of discrepancies in the column bell etc.

Wood

Eucalyptus wood
The eucayptus comes in more than 200 species. All of them originated in Australia. For traditional didgeridoo-making the ones below are used most of the time.
Stringy Bark Eucalyptus
This is a semi-hardwood with a density of 8 on a scale from 1 to 12. It is the tree I use the most and it is very workable for making extended low and high-tone conical didgeridoos. Not in all regions of Australia does the stringy bark tree have the same characteristics as the ones I use. The name comes from the fact that you can pull the bark of the stem like a piece of rope. I believe the bark was used to tie things up. Also the termites eat in a cleaner way through the tree than in most eucalyptus trees. The wood is very dense and good for playing. The didgeridoos often come out in nice red colours with white bells.
Iron Bark Eucalyptus
This is probably the hardest wood for didgeridoos but maybe boxwood will have the same density. This wood is so hard that it easily cracks. Also often the didgeridoos of this wood contain sap lines that are basically cracks already. The grain of the tree is more straight then woven, which also causes it to crack more easily. The bark is very dark, almost black, and falls off easily when taken off quickly after cutting it. The bark bottom didgeridoos are often made from this tree. Nowadays makers including myself have found a way of preventing the wood from splitting by using epoxy resin. This helps a lot and makes them very durable. The shape of a iron bark stem is often cylindrical. I have not experimented enough to make conical didgeridoos out of it. If you find a healthy patch or single tree it can be interesting to make instruments out of this tree type because of the density of the wood. Only the result can be disappointing at times because the stem can also have unexpected holes that will come about in the final making process of the instrument.
Bloodwood Eucalyptus
The name bloodwood comes from the fact that the tree can actually bleed red resin. Often mistaken is that bloodwood didges are always dark red. They can as easy be white in colour (see light wood). And often stringy bark is mistaken for bloodwood because it often has a dark red colour. Although bloodwood does have the most beautiful red of all trees used for didgeridoos. Most characteristic of bloodwood didgeridoos is the nice black ‘bloodlines’ that make very playful patterns on the surface of the didge. A good maker brings them out when he takes the ‘meat’ off the instrument.
Also the shape of the bloodwood trees can be very charming for making didgeridoos. They can have chunky bells and very characteristic flares that make the didge an ornament in itself with beautiful wood grains on the surface. It is one of my favourite trees. Although it is harder to come by and it does only grow in patches or here and there a single one in stringy bark country. One problem is often that the termites often leave double sleeves and chambers in the inner column. This can be disappointing when you came back with a nice cut. The chance of making many top-quality instruments is less than with good stringy bark.
The grain of the wood is woven and therefore very durable against spliting. When the outside of the didge is white and the inside red it will be even more durable. This counts for all eucalyptic didgeridoos. The sap wood protects the hardwood. The bark of the trees looks a bit like fish skin. The shape of bloodwood trees can be naturally conical with bends etc. In the past, the shop has sold many nice bloodwood didges with beautiful bells etc. Also very big examples have come through and of course the big bells and monster trunks are mainly bloodwood trees.
Mallee Wood Eucalyptus
This is a lighter type of eucalyptus that comes from the more southern and middle (not central like the desert) areas in Australia. It is not as dense as most of the trees used for didgeridoos and the wood is often light yellow in colour. The termites eat the inside out in a very clean way. Smooth as a baby’s bottom the Ozzies say. My first didge was made out of this wood. Nowadays I do not use it for making didges. But for the beginners range it is very good. It is also one of the easiest woods to work with. But impossible for extended conical didgeridoos and too light in density.
Boxwood Eucalyptus
Another favourite wood of mine but very hard to have good results with, is the box wood Eucalypt. The trees are often very bendy and grow in scrubs and bushes. The density is the best of all woods and instruments of this wood can produce very nice tearing sounds. It also has a woven grain and does not crack that quickly. The colour of the wood is a very nice red. They sometimes can have a natural conical shape. Another type of box is the river box that comes out more red and can even have bells. I do not know where this term comes from but I think it has to do with it that these trees grow closer by a river. The bark of the tree is often thin and grey in colour. Some people speak of ‘yellow box’ and ‘red box’ But that is just because they have either taken all the sap wood of the instrument so there is only hard red wood left, or the termite has not eaten all hardwood so when making the instrument there is only sap wood left, which makes the didgeridoo look yellow in colour. Usually the flare will be yellow anyway. Read more about this in light wood.
Woolly Butt Eucalyptus (pink bloodwood)
Woolly butt eucalyptus got its name from the bark of the tree that has a woolly appearance. It does not really look like wool but it has a flaky surface with lots of little sharp pieces on it. You need gloves to carry or lift these stems. The trees can grow very long and straight. I used it for making extra long low and high-tone conicals. On the outside, the wood looks very lumpy but for some reason this usually does not have an effect on the inner column of the tree. The grain of the wood is not as beautiful and strong as normal bloodwood. It is not a favourable wood of mine but very interesting for making extra long instruments. The density varies. It is mainly softer than stringy bark and bloodwood etc. The name pink bloodwood comes from that the wood looks similar when the bark is of pinkness in colour and it also has the same bloodlines. But less black in colour.
Termite Hollowed
This just means that the termites have eaten the inside of the tree out. That’s what makes a didgeridoo original in some sense. The termites eat the hard or center part of the tree. They use this to make their nests and complicated tunnel systems. Termite hollowed didgeridoos are made out of one piece of wood. Outside of Australia didgeridoos are usually cut in half and hollowed out to be glued back together again afterwards.
Regenerated trees
Some eucalyptus trees have the ability to regenerate. This means that when they are cut down, a new stem will shoot out of the stump that is left behind. Some people say all eucalyptus do this. Others say the tree will only regenerate if the tree is cut near or in the wet season. Some say they will only shoot up if you do not cut the stem too close to the ground. Personally I have seen all trees regenerate in all different situations. But whether some will not regenerate I have not been able to see. Usually when a property owner wants to get rid of his trees in a certain area, he will poison them, otherwise they will keep coming back. They call eucalytpus a weed or a pest for doing this.
Sleeves
This usually happens to older trees. It is wood that you can peel off the tree or didgeridoo. Sometimes you can continue peeling all the way around the didgeridoo. It just keeps chipping off until you come to a point where the wood stays attached on the surface. I usually put glue under the layer so that it stays together. It often happens that customers think it is a crack in the instrument. But it is only wood chipping of the surface it never goes through the instument itself and once glued together it will not cause any problems to the instrument’s average wood thickness.
Double sleeves
This is something that occurs sometimes when chiselling a didgeridoo out. The termites have been making more than one hole so that you can have trouble chiselling the inside out. It also can have an effect on the sound. I usually just try to take all the wood out until you will have one neat hole again where the sound can travel through nicely.
Hollow chambers
A tree that has a sudden bend in its stem will often have a hollow chamber at the part where the stem changes direction. These chambers make the airflow not consistent and can create a poor sound. Often a branch will shoot from these bends.
White ants
Means termites. See Termite hollowed.

Shapes

For an explanation of the names of our didgeridoos please go to the didgeshop or how to choose guide.

Flare
See Bell in the characteristics list.
Sound box
This generally means a bell or flare of the didgeridoo that operates more like an amplifier of the didgeridoo instead of being part of the inner column that creates the characteristics of the didgeridoo. Let’s say its ground tone etc. It is more seen as a separate amplifier that does not change the key or tone of the instrument.
Wood thickness
See Wood thickness in the characteristics list.
Mouth piece
See Mouth piece in the characteristics list
Waxless mouth piece
See Mouth piece in the characteristics list
Insert
An insert is a piece of wood put inside a didgeridoo that has a too big hole to blow on. The insert helps to play the didgeridoo. This is usually done with very big didgeridoos like the ‘monster trunks’. Inserts are made of smaller termite hollowed stems. They can have all sorts of lengths. Most commen is between 5 and 10 cm long but I have also seen them of 30 cm. They help a big didgeridoo to play, but they’re not really suitable for advanced playing techniques. But generally speaking very big didgeridoos are not very suitable for advanced playing, but they can give a tremendous heavy and bassy drone. Most people are really impressed by the sound of these big monsters.

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