Instructables
Picture of Making an Atabaque (Afro-Brazilian Conga)
The Atabaque is an Afro-Brazilian conga drum that is used in the Martial Art/Dance/Game of Capoeira, and the Afro-Brazilian Religion of Candomblé. The steps provided in this instructable are for making a rope-tensioned, as opposed to a lug-tensioned drum. If you wish to bring axé (energy) into your roda, or call upon the Orixas (protective spirits of Candomblé), this instructable will give you the information that you need to build your own Grande Atabaque! Muito Axé!
 
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Step 1: Gather all of your materials

Materials needed for this over all are:
100 feet of Manila rope
9 boards of Maple that are .5" thick, 8" wide, and 40" long
1 Bottle of Titebond 3 wood glue, or any other water resistant glue
1 Can of Marine Varnish, or any other wood protectant
1   1 1/2"x1 1/2"x20" Black Walnut turning square
1 22" round of Cow Rawhide http://www.djembedirect.com/store/djembe_goat_skin
2 16" inside diameter steel rings that are 1/4" thickhttp://www.africanrhythmtraders.com/html/drumrings.html
1 15.5" inside diameter ring
2 Ratcheting tie downs
1 can of black spraypaint
1 gigantic 55 gallon plastic bag
1 pot large enough to boil water for 3 hours strong
1 table saw with a blade you can angle and rip fence, or 1 large woodworkers plane
1 small plane
sand paper
wood screws
wood putty
1 large bucket or long planter trough (no holes)
1 hammer
1 screw driver
Wo0kiE2 years ago
First, great job on this. It look sweet!

A couple friendly suggestions for anyone attempting to reproduce this (or any other rope-tuned drum).

While your technique for looping the rings is suitable and effective, I have found that you deal with less slippage when using the Mali Weave technique. It is more secure and once in place, the rope is almost as tight as braided steel cable.
Please see my instructable here for a little tutorial on creating the Mali Weave.

http://www.instructables.com/id/Homemade-Djembe-African-Hand-Drum/

Also, if you are using a stave construction technique like your process, I highly recommend have an adjustable angle square for double checking your angles as even some of the best table saws are inaccurate in providing the perfect angle.

http://directory.constructiondistribution.com/product/10342619/Affinity_Tool_Works_Multi_Angle_Adjustable_Square_Tool

One last thing, traditionally these shells were not sealed or stained by urethane type materials. I did a little research on the traditional production of the djembe and the aishiko and found that once the shell has been carved to the smith's specifications, it would be soaked for several days in teak oil or some other natural sealant which provided protection for the wood and a beautiful color. The draw back is the need for a 55 gallon drum of teak oil, but this is info, not instruction.

All in all, I like what you have done and as soon as I get my shop set back up, I will be working on stave made bongos, a conga, and my long awaited aishiko.

Keep on drumming!
Wasagi3 years ago
This is a fantastic project, and the result is beautiful!!
Marimbondo4 years ago
I would like to pay you to build an atabaque or two for me with burn-in designs...lemme know...
Hay Chapa, I have one more question ;)

In the description, it sounds like you are cutting the staves to have straight edges - so a straight line from the narrow bottom to the widest point in the middle, and then another straight line to the top?

Is this how you did it or, did you curve them at all (if do I can't work out how you did it on the table-saw)? It just seems like maybe there should be some curve to the staves, so the drum is curved, rather than angled in the middle? Maybe the drum just curves anyway when you steam bend it?

I am going to be cutting up my staves on a bandsaw (I don't have a tablesaw) so making them curved seems kinda logical, as long as they are all the same?
chapa-de-frente (author)  bongodrummer4 years ago
(removed by author or community request)
Thanks for the heads up - you probably saved me a load of trouble.
chapa-de-frente (author) 4 years ago
it was half inch.
about 260 dollars (i had to buy more tools)
and it took about 2 weeks
it could have been made for 200
Pesoen4 years ago
Hi sorry i have a question what kind of thickness did you use on the rope and whats the total that you spent on the project; price for supplies and also how long did it take you to finish the atabaque?
Pesoen4 years ago
How much did you spent chapa de frente on all this project?
Great, thanks for that very useful and informative. I have one question - I understand that the Atabaque is usually made from Brazilian rosewood which has a density of 1200kg/m3 and Maple has a density more like 755kg/m3. How is this going to effect the sound?

I know it is practically impossible to get hold of Brazilian Rosewood now, as it has become a protected species and exports from Brazil prevented by law. Did you consider any other woods hen you planned this drum? Have you compared the sound to another Atabaque?

Thanks again,
Bongo
chapa-de-frente (author)  bongodrummer4 years ago
yes, it is normally made from Jacarandá do Pará. now, i didnt use it because of the expense (but amazingly, i do have a place to get it from here in AZ, woodworkers source). normally, you would use fire to bend the wood (much like bending a barrel), but this method may be more accessible to people, and since maple isnt oily i knew that steaming would work.

there are a few different woods that get lumped in and named Brazilian Rosewood, and the one you are thinking of is Jacarandá da Bahia

Now, the sound is great, but its much deeper than other atabaques not due to the wood used, but simply how large it is, but i do believe that it vibrates more freely than the jacarandá. but since there are no others of this size around me (i set out to make a super large one, just because i could) i cant give that a direct answer. i imagine it is a slightly less focused sound, a lot rounder of a base, and it can hang with other atabaques, but traveling from group to group (in Capoeira), each class likes there atabaque a little different.

I dont know if you would know this, but people make atabaques out of pine at an increasing rate now, and they are very nice. Mestre Barrão of grupo axé capoeira prefers them from a student of his, that i have spoken to and actually recommended i make my first one (small one) out of pine because it resonates well for a nice round and deep voice.
another wood i thought of was ash, but it sucks to plane, in my experience. i should still do it though.
Chapa-de-frente, thanks for the reply. Sounds very encouraging. I have been wanting to make one for a while but have been ummin and ahring about what wood to use. I imagine pine would sound very different, but if there is mestres out there who recommend it...

I think I will try and go for some fairly dense UK native hardwood then, and see what we get ;) Have been looking for some boxwood, which might be nice - but may also have just found a source of holly - which is also quite dense and strong. I haven't had many problems with ash in the past (I guess it depends on the particular grain structure you get) - so I might even go for that.

Thanks again.
B.





dawoj4 years ago
Very nice thank you
Ed_Brazil4 years ago
Not only is this instructable interesting to me, it was also very well organized with plenty of pictures and information, so you got my vote for the contest!

Also, can you make another instructable for a set of Congas?!

Thanks
chapa-de-frente (author)  Ed_Brazil4 years ago
its gonna happen, it may take a while, but ive always intended on making a set of congas
jvangurp4 years ago
Great instructible!!! As a player in a Canadian bateria I'm always looking for interesting and especially 'home cooked' percussions. This is going on my to-do list for the winter. Thanks!
zetoantunes4 years ago
Chapa-de-frente,
Gostei! (I liked it)
Publica um "instructable" em português. (Publish an instructable in portuguese)
Assumo que falas português. (I presume you are portuguese speaking)

zetÓ (Pt)
seolfor4 years ago
Great instructable. And that is one beautiful looking Atabaque. Thanks for sharing.
chapa-de-frente (author) 4 years ago
why is there a false false thing over some of my steps? i was on another (non internet) computer and wrote most of it in microsoft word. does it do that after pasting?