Home » Didgeridoo Sound Assessment

harmonics_articleAs the article alludes it wouldn’t matter what criteria one set up  to assess  the sound from didgs, it would have its failings. The following  is   an attempt to give some understanding to  the different sound qualities of didgs .  In each category below its not just about, 1-5 meaning  best to worst, for some folk like tight flaring  holed didgs and other folk like open holed didgs.   So each didg needs to be judged based upon the  overall picture of the three criterias, to give you an overall sense of the didgs sound.

Q-Firstly what makes the key of the didg
A-Length is the main determinant, combined with the shape of the internal hole, combined with the ease for the air pressure to be released from one end to another. So put simply length + degree of taper from top to bottom + degree of smoothness of inner surface.The more air volume for the sound to travel through plus the internal variations effecting ease, creates the lips to vibrate slower. So the quicker and easier for the air and sound to travel the higher the note.

THE THREE SOUND CRITERIAS I often hear folk assessing didgs  only talking of backpressure. In essence its like saying a didg is a solid branch without a hole. Thats how useless it is by itself.  The three sound criterias are like a triangle. Backpressure and Warmth two opposites as the foundation and volume the point of the triangle is how the  balance of the two express themselves outwardly.

BACKPRESSURE- Is a common term indicating the degree of  ease of droning. It is the resistance that naturally occurs when  blowing through a hollow tube that sets off the lips  vibrating as they do.  Its not just the degree of resistance that makes  for a better backpressure didg, for  there  can be too much resistance, either caused by  a narrowing hole or an inner surface that is not conjusive to to the flow of air. Interestingly though one can have a narrowing rather than tapering  hole but if it does so, to the right degree and has a smooth internal surface it can have excellent  backpressure and ease of playing. Most mid length didgs with smallish holes have excellent backpressure, whilst also  interestingly if one gets the right configuration over a very long didg it also  can have excellent backpressure. So theres no absolutes but there are very understandable reasons why some didgs are easier to play than others. An ideal didg from the majority of players perspectve, is a didg that  is 30-40mm internal diameter   and tapers over its length gradually. So by being fairly similar diameter over the top half to two thirds theres a healthy degree of resistance, whilst in the widening towards the base the air pressure and vibration is released in a a more chambered environment. Looking at another didg configuration, a fairly even diameter didg, if gradually widening slightly, perhaps with a slightly larger internal hole, can also have  excellent backpressure.

In summary backpressure is the degree to which droning kicks in  immediately and easily and is easy to maintain with   minimal pressure.

Extra Ordinary-  One out of the mob, an absolutely phenomenal  backpressured didg. Not always suited to all players
Brilliant- An amazing, backpressured didg. Kicks in instantly, minimal  pressure required. Highest class player.
Excellent – Easeful- A didg that suits any player from someone starting out  to an advanced player wanting  an easy player with excellent backpressure. Note-Just because there are ones that have even more backpressure doesn’t mean they are necessarily better, they are just differnt in their overall sound make up. Excellent-easeful speaks for the majority of didgs that best suit most players.
Suits Experienced Player- A top playing didg and easy to play for a developing to experienced player. It is such, for it has  larger than average hole and so is best for  an established circular breather.

WARMTH & RESONANCE Is all about the quality of the sound, instead of, the degree of ease, of making it. It is best described  as the degree of warmth of the sound or the resonance or impact.   A very warm sounding didg has a greater range  of base than treble; and has an almost  all pervading sound quality and is very round and both soft and loud all at once. A treble base type didg has the backpressure which gives off the treble and a lot of base but there are always trade offs, whichever way you go. Big Healing Boomer and Treble Base Boomer are the two main types of highest class resonant didgs and the polarities possible in this grade.

Big Healing Boomer  An all time blow out  didg that leaves one in total awe. It  makes the floor and all around one seem to vibrate. It generally comes from a largish hole throughout.
Treble Base Boomer   An incredibly powerful backpressure style didg with strong treble qualities from a tight upper end hole and strong base qualities from the flaring or belled end. A big chamber or very tapered and open in the last 1/3 of the didg make the best of this style of didg. We have been experimenting with making these with sleeving a long section of thin holed didg into an open big hole didg with both tapering together, and the result has been some of the most amazing didgs I’ve played.
Warm & Vocal    All you want in the sound of a didg.  Warm and vocal sais it all.  Classic sounding, rich and warm.
Bright and Clear  This didg is a step away from an open holed/ warm didg and the sound is clear and distinct and resonant.By nature it  probably has a hole that is on the smaller side and so is probably  very very easy for the beginner.

VOLUME- Pretty simply how loud it is. 

All of our didgs are made to play incredibly well and loud, so these are subtle differences in comparing Heartland Didgeridoos I am now only using these three classifications.

Explosive   Has turbo charged  vocal volume
Boomer  A Big Boomy Basey sound
Very Loud  
This didg pumps volume with such ease. It sits as one of the louder didgs you’ll come by.
Loud- A vocal and expressive didg.