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Table of Contents

1-Q -What makes a good didg?
2-Q - How does the length affect sound?
3-Q - How is the hole bored out?
4-Q -What is the process of finding a didg ?
5-Q -Should I pour water down the inside of my didg?
6-Q -What are the didgs sealed with and what maintainance is needed ?

7-Q -Why is the didg sound so moving ?
Q -Is circular breathing difficult? & How do you circular breath?
9-Q - How long does it take to learn to circular breath ?
10-Q How are didgs classed
11-Q-Do you suggest drinking any certain fluid before playing? One that will clear your throat and coat your mouth, as to keep it lubed longer.
12- Why do  didgs crack and how  can it be prevented?

More   on these subjects may be found  in the Playing and Making Tips sections


Q-What makes a good didg?

A- A good clear,open and tapered or opening hole, with good wood integrity, and a strong , not too thick wall , will give a warm open volumous sound that makes for a great didg. A simplistic answer making it sound easy but as with the endless possibilities theres an art to comparing and understanding the differences and picking the best didg to journey with. So being that it takes a maker years to fully get to know the many moods of didg ; its a hard question to answer with words, without a thesis to give justice to it.
The best way is to try many didgs , compare their qualities and ask lots of questions.

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Q- How does the length affect sound?

A- The longer the didg , the slower ones lips vibrate to match the change in the air pressure. At each length there is a different pressure required to kick start the vibrating drone of that particular didg. There is one other factor that can potentially make two didgs of different lengths have the same note. A didg with a substantial taper, compared with another didg the same length with an even diameter hole, will play a higher note than the even hole. The tapered didg takes less pressure to kickstart the didg and the lips vibrate quicker at a higher vibration. So in effect, length plus the hole configuration together, alter the pressure and the speed of the vibration, played by the speed of the lips vibrating. These two factors make for endless possible combinations and no two didgs the same.

Put another way Length is the main determinant,but secondly is the shape of the internal hole and the ultimate determinant which is both combined; is the ease for the air pressure to be released from one end to another. 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.

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Q- How is the hole bored out?

A- Termites or White Ants as they are nicknamed, make their nest under the ground ,inside or on the tree or in mounds above ground with complex natural airconditioning to make life comfortable in the hot terrrain they live. The termites eat the heart wood out leaving the alive sap wood to grow on, enabling the tree to live to full maturity whilst being hollowed out on the inside. In classic dry country /termite terrain, the smallest of trees can be perfectly hollowed out on the inside. Or a large tree can have 30 + branches each potentially a perfect didgeridoo. Mostly there is a range from being solid to partially eaten to fully eaten, and a didg finder drives ,walks and searchs far afield looking for ideal didgs.

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Q - What is the process of finding a didg ?

A - A trip bush can mean to the top of Aus or down or west into the dry & desert regions. Trips are often thousands of Kms and can take from a week to a month away. It involves looking for termite country. The art of spotting or choosing a didg is a learnt art and is a constant learning process with the myriad of different woods and terrain being endless .

Trips are a combination of practical product finding and personal journeying. Its time alone,in the bush feeling into a new phase of journeying with the bush, didg ,receiving levels, opening to new reflections and endevouring to get more connected with the environment. A good excuse to go walkabout.

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Q-Should I pour water down the inside of my didg?

A- Traditionally water was used down the inside of the didg to add a glisteny surface to the inside to help the sound travel. It also gave moisture to the wood to help balance climatic extremes and balance somewhat the expansion and contraction that temperature and humidity puts wood through. A wash out with water also moves on insects and spiders who find didg a great home and it cleans ,dust, spit,or just the energy of a full on didg session .On the whole its a part of looking after an instrument and friend.

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Q- What are the didgs sealed with and what maintainance is needed ?

A- Our didgs are sealed on the outside with oil, natural resin varnish or occasionally left with just the ochre wood glue mix for a more traditional feel.
With the natural resin varnish basically no maintainance is required. This gives a water proof exterior. If used outdoors or roughed around a lot, another coat may be beneficial every 3-10 years ( depending upon didg and use) Being that we seal the inside of the didg you can go swimming with your didg - a simpler way to clean it out.With an oiled finish , a periodic oil is beneficial, and the timing is dependant upon climate and use. At the least every 6-12 months as preferred oiling regularity.With an ochre /wood glue finish , the exterior is water resistant not proof, so minimise water on the outside. With age it becomes more water resistant. If one desires it to be water proof applying a flat varnish to the outside will give a similar finish with more protection.

The inside of our didgs are fully sealed with either beeswax , oil and sometimes natural resin varnish. Only occasionally we leave the inside unsealed and whereso we have done so to perhaps feature a particular didg in its perfect natural state.

If a didg is well looked after there is little to no need to reseal the inside. This is definately the case with a didg beeswaxed or natural resin varnished on the inside for how complete a seal it gives. The regular water clean though is helpfull with the waxed didg to clear out any insects that like the wax. With an oiled didg one may give a flush through with oil- perhaps linseed oil, but only where a didg is climatically or use wise , neeeding some extra nourishment to prolong its life.

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Q -Why is the didg sound so moving ?

A - This answer has many perspectives and each person has a different slant. Heres an array.

*The drone sound is similar to "Omm" the sound of creation. To add some weight to this, I read in a news article that the sound of the earth rotating was somehow taped on a space mission and to their suprise it sounded like a didgeridoo.

*The didgeridoo connects us with our tribal past no matter how long back our our connection is to our tribal ancestors

* The beat of the didg , and the circular nature of the sound is reassuring, like the beat of our mothers heart beat when we were listening from inside her belly.

* Sound is powerfull and the didg is a magnifyer of sound. It somehow accentuates feeling like few other instruments. Air instruments like bagpipes and flute have a stirring quality in a similar but different way.

* Didg is the only air instrument that utlises both air and voice , and consequently offers both the deep and high note ranges simultaneously. Voice is used with effect in key and out of key. This gives the ability to overlay different rythyms and sound effects into the one experience of sound. This is so powerfull somehow that perhaps in the wide array of sound we as the listener are assimilating that our normal sense of hearing is either overloaded or expanded and so our assemblage point is shifted.

* Didg offers such range of playing styles; as varied as the individual, and being that there is no exact way to play, it there is nowhere for one to go to get approval, to say I’ve arrived or I’m at this level of playing skill. There is no outside reference point of Okness other than how one feels. For the listener, the myriad sound experiences, always transported one to a fresh place.

* The continuos nature of circular breathing is both hypnotising and seemingly magical in what seems a very difficult skill . The player is often given much respect for being able to keep the drone going on and on.


Q - Isn’t circular breathing difficult? & How do you circular breath?

A - Circular breathing is very simple and yet can be very difficult if one doesn’t follow the steps or exercises that lead naturally to it. At the same time though if one trully desires to circular breath, even without instruction or knowing, one can find the way to it.

Most simply, circular breathing is the action of storing some air in the mouth cavity by puffing out the cheeks and / or opening the jaw and when needing to take a breath, flattening the cheeks and or closing the jaw to maintain sufficient pressure to keep the lips vibrating for long enough to snatch a breath. The snatching becomes an integral part of the rythym.

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Q - How long does it take to learn to circular breath ?

A - It can take 5 minutes to 5 months . Most who are persistant and practice regularly get it within weeks or within 1-3 months. It can be surprisingly easy and also elusive. Relaxing and enjoying the process speeds it up.

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Q How are didgs classed

A-Class is a subjective thing and is only a helpfull tool in classifying didgs or for you in describing your quality price requirements , when in truth there all different and its next to impossible to classify ,if didgs are made with their individual spirit in mind

. But as a tool they are classed , based on looks ,sound ,rarity,etc etc and another person may classify them different. Definately a tricky question ,you can find further info on our site.

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Q- Do you suggest drinking any certain fluid before playing? One that will clear your throat and coat your mouth, as to keep it lubed longer. I brought my didg to a friend's house for a little improv session. We played in 20-30 minute sessions at a time, and I noticed, with 20-30 minutes of constant expulsion of air, that the back of my throat was getting very dry. I also noticed that my lips were losing their initial moisture, which I counteracted, a bit, with forming an "S" sound with my tongue (which sounds almost like a shower, or rattler snake, with the cheeks not puffed........and rightfully so...... there's a "shower" of saliva occurring.

A-Good question,- Ultimately the best way to keep lubed is on the whole to drink a heap of water, and eat lots of uncooked fresh fruit and vegies. The quick drink before a session does little if ones body is generally a bit dehydrated. Didging does require saliva use and it asks of it from our reserves,so keeping the liquid up in general life is the best way. if you wanting to keep hydrated ,avoid alcohol, tea and coffee which are dehydraters. if some folk find that alcohol loosens your playing up, its the relaxing factor at work which I'll go into further below, but remember that for every glass of alcohol I think you need about 2-3 of water to stop the body from dehydrating. My feeling is that very regular alcohol consumption without balancing wont help ones didg playing in the long term. The same with stress, for adrenalin running overboard depletes the body reserves.
The ways you mentioned to help the saliva flow are natural body responses to keep the saliva flowing and your right on target, with your methods, I do the same. These come pretty automatic when trying to keep the drone going. Another way is relaxing. Often when performing if my adrenelin is running too high it can deplete my body and the saliva flow slows up- a bummer. The best help is relaxing and breathing easier not going into trying hard.

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Q- Why do  didgs crack and how can it be prevented?

A-Wood naturally expands and contracts and expansion lines can become cracks depending upon the wood, how and when it was cut, and the curing process. Didgs cut green and not cured well  is a major cause of cracking.The majority of didgs sold are cut green. Of Heartlands approximately half  are, but thats a very low percentage most makers would be 95-100%,more like most a 100%. Theres nothing wrong with didgs cut green other than more care is needed in selection ,curing and especially selection when sending into a different climate zone. Green didgs of course are more susceptable to cracking  than a sun seasoned dead wood didg. So sun seasoned dead wood  and wood with very wavy grain patterns are the ultimate for crack proof didgs.

Munga one of the Heartland makers for example wont cut a green didg. All dead wood. Look at his didgs on our site and the quality, and imagine the searching involved in only finding dead wood of this quality. Because Munga, Brian, Paul and I particularly are looking for dead wood rather than the easier green wood we are learning more about the differences between and the nature of cracking- green and dead wood -the bigger picture.  A lifetime learning.

A green didg well seasoned can be as  crack resistant as a sunseasoned didg, but the sun seasoned didg is the ultimate  for peace of mind.

Not leaving your didg outside in the sun, outside overnight, or in a hot car for long periods  is the best way to minimise the expansion and contraction and so prevent your didg cracking. For tips as to repairing cracked didgs refer to our  Tips- Repairing Section

How to check whether a crack is releasing air? Blowing with your  mouth over the crack to see whether air goes through is one way. The best way is  filling the didg with water with the hand over the mouthpiece . One final way is  playing the didg and holding the hand just away from the didg to feel for air.

So cracking can be put  down to   expansion and contraction caused by  climatic swings where wood is encouraged to expand or contract and noone can fully guarantee how each will react. With much experience though we can predict

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Copyright [Heartland Didgeridoos]. All rights reserved.
Revised: January 29, 2003.
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