Didgeridoo Buying Check List

What to look out for when buying a Didgeridoo

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Here a list of things you should check before buying a didgeridoo

  • Didgeridoo Materials
  • Best Sizes and Keys
  • Didgeridoo Workmanship
  • Didgeridoo Sound
  • Quality Authenticity

Didgeridoo Materials

There are many materials used today to make a didgeridoo from:

Traditionally a didgeridoo was made from an Eucalyptus log which was already hollowed out by termites, but since western culture has discovered the didgeridoo, people make didgeridoos out of PVC, black poly pipe, fibreglass, bamboo, Agave and any kind of timber.

If you are looking for a didgeridoo to learn on, the material is not too important. If you do not have too much money, we advise you make your own didgeridoo from PVC pipe. It is the cheapest didgeridoo there is and they do have a satisfactory sound quality. Fibreglass makes good didgeridoos too, but is more expensive. Bamboo is used mainly in Indonesia to make didgeridoos and we do not advise to get a bamboo didgeridoo. A bamboo didgeridoo has two large downsides: it splits very easy and usually has a fairly poor sound. The soft wood and fibrous inside of a bamboo didgeridoo have a negative effect on sound clarity.

A didgeridoo made from real wood usually has a much better resonance. There are many didgeridoos made from a wide range of woods by drilling them out or by routering two halves and then gluing them together. These wooden didgeridoos usually have a good sound quality.

But the best sound quality you will find in genuine termite hollowed didgeridoos.

However if you buy a genuine didgeridoo you want to make sure of good workmanship and at least reasonable sound quality, since sound quality varies widely (see below).

Best Size and Key of a Didgeridoo

For a beginners didgeridoo the best size is somewhere between 100 and 150 cm long. The best musical keys to learn on are F, F#, E, D#, D, C#, C or B. Longer or shorter didgeridoos need more air to keep going and consequently are harder to learn circular breathing on.

Didgeridoo Workmanship

Especially when buying a wooden didgeridoo (including bamboo) workmanship is very important. Wood expands and contracts with climate changes and if not sufficiently protected will split or crack.

We at Didjshop.com subject our didgeridoos to over 25 processes after buying them from our Aboriginal suppliers. When we started wholesaling ten years ago we did not do this and sold them as we got them just like almost all other didgeridoo sellers still do today. We had a lot of problems with our customers because about a third of them used to crack or split. Now with all the extra work far less than one percent crack.

So before buying your didgeridoo ask the merchant how they protect their didgeridoos from cracking or splitting or whether they give any guarantee as we do.

If you buy the didj in person, have a very close look all over the didj for hairline cracks. If you see any do not buy the didj and consider not buying from this vendor at all. It's a sign that the vendor does not care about the quality of his didjes.

Test any differently coloured spots or fills with your finger nails. If you can see an indent of your fingernail, do not buy the didj.

If you cannot find any splits or hairline cracks, have a look into the bottom of the didgeridoo. A well made didgeridoo should have been widened with a chisel unless the outside wall is already very thin. But it should not have very irregular wall thickness as that can cause cracking later on. It should also be sealed on the inside. If you can see untreated wood on the inside of the didgeridoo, do not buy it, its much more likely to crack later.
A well made didgeridoo should also have the inside and outside edge slightly bevelled.

Next you might want to find out what material the didj maker used to fill any holes. Most genuine didjes do have small or large branch holes which need to be filled. Most makers use fast drying fillers like automotive fillers or fibreglass fillers. They have very different expansion and contraction rates than wood and consequently are likely to separate sooner or later. So we advise you find out what materials are used for filling holes. Again if you are told that their didjes never have any holes or fill, you better find someone else to buy from.

Last but not least check the thickness of the outside varnish. Many didj sellers only give their didjes one or two coats of varnish - it's cheaper and faster and they do not care if it cracks later. Didjshop.com didjes have at least five layers of sealants and varnish. So if you can see that the varnish on the didj is fairly thin, better don't buy it, it's a sign of poor workmanship.

If you have someone telling you that none of their didgeridoos crack, you can be sure they are lying and you should avoid buying from them.

Sound Quality

As mentioned previously genuine didgeridoos have the best sound quality of all possible materials but they differ widely in their sound quality. Sadly most of them have a rather poor sound quality because the people selling them do not invest the time and effort to work on them nor do they care in the first place to cut good quality; they rather cut as many didgeridoos as fast as possible.

Most didgeridoo sellers do not give any information about the sound quality of their didgeridoos. And almost all of the ones that do greatly exaggerate the sound quality of their didgeridoos. Didjshop.com due to its long history as a didgeridoo wholesaler to the worldwide music instrument industry has developed an objective system of sound-grading of all our didgeridoos so that our customers get consistent sound quality every time they order.

Other didgeridoo sellers give their didgeridoos flowery descriptions or call them concert class didgeridoos simply to help them sell, not to give you an objective assessment. I have been in a very large local didgeridoo shop and the didgeridoos they call concert class didgeridoos (they adopted our terminology but do not call any of their didjes seconds) are equal to what we call 2nd sound quality.

So we advise you are very careful when looking at didgeridoos which are praised by their sellers, especially if the seller claims that all their didgeridoos are really good players (this is simply not true for termite eaten didgeridoos).

Some didgeridoo sellers say that listening to a didgeridoo over the phone is much better than listening to an MP3 recording. This is not true. These people simply want you on the phone so they can talk you into buying. We have done several experiments with customers of playing them several didgeridoos over the phone and getting them to listen to the online sound files of the same didgeridoos and all of these people said that the online sound files are a much better way to tell the quality of a didgeridoo. With our online recordings you can also easily compare different didgeridoos.

You should also be aware of the fact that a very good didgeridoo player can make a didgeridoo of fairly poor sound quality sound quite good, especially if you do not hear any other didgeridoos for comparison. This is another reason why people want you to call them: you are not going to listen to too many didgeridoos so the one or two didgeridoos you listen to cannot be realistically compared with many other didgeridoos as you can do on didjshop.com.

Because didgeridoos vary so widely in their sound qualities we suggest you either learn how to play first on PVC or similar so that you can tell the sound quality of a didj yourself or you buy only from a supplier whom you can trust to give you an objective assessment of the didj. Remember it is in their interest to hype their didjes up and almost all of them do it.

Listen to different Musical Keys


If you do opt for the real thing - a termite hollowed didgeridoo, we and all our Aboriginal suppliers appeal to you to buy only an Aboriginal made didgeridoo. We estimate that over 80% of genuine didgeridoos are made by non-Aboriginal people. The vast majority of them are in the business for some quick money and the didgeridoos they sell are of poor quality (we call them 'didgeridon'ts'). Many clear-fell large areas and Aborigines resent missing out on all this business.

If you buy any other didgeridoo, please ensure that some money from the purchase goes back to Aboriginal people. The didgeridoo is undoubtedly an Aboriginal instrument and for non-Aboriginal people to sell any kind of didgeridoos without returning some of their profits to Aboriginal people is cultural theft and Aborigines feel a strong resentment about such exploitation.

So please ensure that whoever you buy a didgeridoo from returns some of the profits back to Aboriginal people. If it is a genuine termite eaten didj, please do not buy it unless you are certain that it has been made by an Aboriginal person. Also ensure that any artwork on it was done by Aboriginal people. Sadly about 80% of termite eaten didjes are made by non-Aboriginal people and over half of so-called 'Aboriginal art' on didgeridoos is done by non-Aboriginal people and we do not know of any seller of non- termite eaten didgeridoos to return any money to Aboriginal people. So presently only very little money from all those didgeridoos sold goes back to Aboriginal people. Please help to change this!!!

Thank you and good luck in finding 'your' didgeridoo.

If you would like some help in finding the right didj for you from the hundreds of didjes available on this web site, please go here.