Djembe Tuning Stand

I’ve been meaning to build a more efficient tuning rack to tune my drums on.? The one I have been using was built out of wood taken from an old tree house, and it was warped and chunky.? It was the first tuning rack I built for tightening the vertical ropes, and though I have had plans for a while to build a new tuning stand, this one was working good enough so I kept putting it off.

It got to the point where a new stand was a necessity!? No more putting this off.? My old stand had to be put on a table top, so I was constantly moving this thing around depending on what I had going on.? When I’m building drums, this thing is always in the way… NOT ANY MORE!


I included all the adaptations I’ve made to my original stand, and also added some features/modifications to the stand to make it more suited for my purposes.? The biggest challenge and my inspiration for actually building a new one was space!? The old tuning stand was huge and heavy, and bulky.? It was a pain to move, and I had to move it often because of it’s size… it never really had a home.? I had used 2×6 studs because that’s what I had taken from the old tree house, but I realize now I don’t need that much bulk.? The foot lever I used was always kinda funky.? The fulcrum wasn’t grounded or stable and it worked by being behind me facing the rack, so it was all over the place.? The spring I had used to bring the foot pedal back up was was not strong enough to compensate for the double pulley system I used.? So I always had to lift the pedal after I pushed it down.? The double pulley system was a little overkill, and it took me a while to figure what type of tension I should use.

So what I’ve done with my new stand is attach it to the wall and allow it to fold back into the wall when I don’t need it.? Because my shop space is small and I need every inch, this really is a huge space saver!? It only takes seconds to fold out and put back up, and only sticks out about 5 inches from the wall when folded.

My next big improvement is the way the foot pedal works and the spring to lift the pedal back up for me… because I’m lazy.? The foot lever is now connect to a pivot point at the back of the stand, so it’s stable and instead of needing all that room behind me for the pedal, it’s now all under the tuning rack.? I am using a single pulley, but I’m also putting my rope connection close to the middle of the foot pedal, this will give me more pull for my effort as well.? The spring is at just the right tension to pull the foot pedal back up.

Tuning-Rack-UpI made the actual table a little smaller as I didn’t need one that was as big as my last.? I built two tables.? My first idea didn’t work out so well so I scrapped it.? Unfortunately it was on the last step and I ruined some nice Oak ply that I was using as the top, but in the process of messing up, I learned how to make my next one even better!? I do think I will add a thin sheet of rubber to the top of the table to keep the drum a little more stable while it’s being tuned.

One of my best improvements is how the machine actually grabs the rope.? I had tried all kinds of cleats and cam cleats for grabbing the vertical rope.? I even paid some big bucks for a nice sailing cam cleat that promised what I needed…? It lasted about 3 djembes before the bearings gave out and frayed up my rope.

Tuning-StandWhat I had to do was rethink how I tune up a drum, and figure out what would let me grab the rope without fraying it and be able to hold under all the tension I’ll put on the drum.? I decided that a knot is the best way, a knot that will lock on itself and can be easily applied and removed.? I did some knot research and came up with the best knot to use, then I built a simple device around that, something to tie the knot on.? I use used some square metal stock from Lowe’s and welded up this little thing.? Drilled some holes to make it look cool…? The result, is that it works beautifully!? I’ll never go back to using cleats!

All in all I’m ecstatic about this new tuning stand.? I feel like I have added a new member to my family.? As much as I used the old one, and cursed at it, I know this is going to save me lots of time and frustration as well as free up some valuable space!

One of my favorite parts of drum building is coming up with new and efficient ways to be productive.? Seeing how useful this thing is now, I think I might hit up some of those other ideas I’ve tucked away.? My next build is going to be a sled for my table saw!? Going to make it so much easier to cross cut that wide rough lumber, and more control over doing small pieces once I start playing around with segmented designs 🙂


Tuning rope pull

8 thoughts on “Djembe Tuning Stand

  1. Sisi says:

    Hi, i’m looking for ways to tight my vertical ropes and read your article.
    Really great.
    Other people built their own but as far as i know they all use a clamcleat. Is it possible to have more details on the way you replace it.
    If also possible, more details on the complete machine would be great

    Thanks in advance

    • KevinB says:

      Thank you. I don’t want to get into details here of how I do this. Using this method makes me use a different style of roping up the drum than I’ve seen others do when using a cam cleat or clam cleat. Basically you need slack to put a knot on the metal part, where with a cleat system, you can grab a rope that is tight. I tore up so many cleats, some pretty expensive, and they always frayed up my rope. This is the only method I’ve found that keeps the rope from being frayed. I may post more on it later. Thanks for taking the time to comment. Send me an e-mail if you are looking for specific info, I can probably help.

  2. Oginga Khamisi says:

    Greetings! I’d like to know if you sale the Djembe Rope Pulling Stand or where can i find the plans to build one using everything you used to make yours. The cam cleat system seems to work well but the cleat ware out after a while. Please help if you can. Thank you.

    • Kevin Brown says:

      I don’t sell these djembe tuning stands. I might could do up a how-to for building one (not everyone will want one that folds against the wall). It has served me very well and I’m still using this pulling stand. There are a few small things I’d change if I build another one, but this guy is solid.

      I’ve got a nice big close-up photo of the metal square tube I welded up that I use for pulling the rope. I used cleats for a while, cam-cleats (at 40 bucks each) and clam cleats. None of which worked for me. The expensive ones were great new, but would soon be a problem. They release a lot easier than the clam-cleat. The clam style cleat would always fray up the rope… So this was the solution. Just a nice little ‘T’ is all you need, and a way to get slack back in the rope for tying a knot. The knot is just a hitch that twists back on itself to lock. 🙂 If I ever get some free time I’ll do an article on the construction. Maybe build myself another stand.

      • Oginga Khamisi says:

        Thanks for the reply. I’m not sure how this part that you show works. Looking at it looks like you would rap the rope around the T that you welded on the square tube. Is that right?

  3. Marlon says:

    Bro! Bro,! Thanks! Thanks for caring to share, I am assured there is a God when I see people looking out for people in similar situations. I dance, but I recently took interest in playing the Djembe Drum, but like others it a real problem to both tune and fix (re-skin) the drum especially when you can afford to wait long to play it.
    I just love your home remedy and would be willing to learn it so I can solve my problems and maybe even help others, there,s really no one here in Jamaica who knows how to do this, help Bro, send me some tips, I’m ready to set up something like that with your help. Thanks in advance.

  4. Adam says:

    Hey man awesome article…any chance on getting a materials list so I may take a stab at making one of these?

    Thanks in advance!


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