Hints on buying a didgeridoo…

You will have no doubt noticed, that in the last few years shops around the world have been suppplied in abundance with what look like authentic australian didgeridoos. Unfortunately, and most for the aborigine people of australia, a large percentage of these didgeridoos (many speak of 95%) are either produced in places like indonesia or other countries in asia where wood working is a major source of work and income and very economical, and didgeridoos are carved out of woods such as teak or made in the light and cheap bamboo. These instruments are cheap, the buyers around the globe purchase hundreds at a ridiculously low cost, and sell for a price that an indigenous craftsman can never compete with.

Even in Australia there are masses of companies that go through forests and cut down enormous squares of kilometers of bush to find just a few hollow branches for the instruments. Or a common technique now, to satisfy the growing overseas demand, is to drill out the insides of trunks and branches and produce instant didges, which are straight and, for the most, have that cheap, tinny sound. This may be fine and quick, but there are no comparisons between a termite-bored didgeridoo and a drilled-out one when it comes to sound. All those curves and thousands of tunnels in an authentic termite- eaten didge, and to add, in a branch that's been seasoned and aged in the sun and is eucalyptus wood, will give you a great sounding instrument for the most.

What's more, that branch is already dead, probably a long long time ago, so you're not killing a tree to make an instrument.

The other techniques described first kill the tree of course.

The indigenous craftsmen and women of australia are struggling to retain an art and survive in competing with a "fast-food" style giant, that has flooded the market with affordable, disposable and crappy sounding didges. But as long as people buy them and say no to the extra dollars you need to get a good one these retail giants continue thriving and depleting forests... (if you serious about it there's no choice, you'll be looking for an authentic didge.) Choose carefully, and insist for the story of the instrument.

There are many co-operatives and small groups of families that operate in Australia making indigenous artefacts and didgeridoos. For quite some years I have bought small quantities of instruments from such groups, for example near Darwin, the men in the family find the instruments, work the wood and then the ladies paint them with beautiful clan colors and designs.

They cost a little more, sure, (not outrageously though) but you really feel the story and life in your hands when you put one of these instruments to your lips.
I know which one I'd choose.


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