I have a privilege to meet many young (some only in the soul) didgeridoo players who want to become makers. I have noticed certain patterns repeating, so I wanted to shed some light on the reasons of why we come to this idea… and whether it is a good idea or not…
My story in short(s).
I started building didges in year 2000. It was shortly after I started playing “for real”. I started from agaves with very primitive tools. I started in a space of only a few square meters. Few like two. Maybe three. I was giving first didgeridoos as presents. When I lacked money I was selling didgeridoos very cheaply. I was working with my friends and always having a good time! I was always working a lot. Had many 12+hours working days. I was progressing slowly but steadily. Expanding space. Buying more tools. Building didges in apartments, kitchens, my own and of my grandmother…Learning more. Playing more. Making better didges. I was also buying didgeridoos during the whole time, investing most of my earned money into that what I loved the most.
The break point for me was when I started to play professionally that I couldn’t buy didges I wanted to play and could imagine. I saved some money and I just couldn’t find what I was looking for. I noticed that eucalyptus didges always had some quality in sound that my didges didn’t. So I invested in eucalyptus from Australia.
I lost the workshop at that time and all my tools, wood and me ended up in the street. I distributed everything in 4 different places across the city and in the city nearby. I was working in my friend’s outside garage. In winter it was really cold (like -10 Celsius) and I had no toilet, nothing, just a bunch of garages. This is where some of the first Duendes were made.
I switched to a squatted house where I had 18sqm, but it was (barely) positive in winter. Still many problems as I couldn’t put heavier machines on a wooden floor, I had big electricity problems and… many other. However I kept doing didges, often having to find strange solutions to my problem, often using a lot of strength and endurance to turn a big heavy log into a one piece instrument.
In last few years I have been working in a workshop which is big part of the forest house I am now living in. It is a self-built place of around 100sqm with lots of space outside. I now own incomparably more and better tools than in the beginning and it is still damn hard to make an excellent didgeridoo with original shape and purpose. You bet my didgeridoo standards are higher than you can imagine, but so would be yours if you were doing the same thing in your life like I do.
All in all and after all, I would say it is still exciting, fun, challenging and anything but easy to make the best possible didgeridoos. Best possible means different things at different levels, but it always stretches your abilities till the very end.
Lesson from the sawmill
I want to use a fresh example of a lesson I learned that might help you. I wanted a sawmill for a long time. A small one, for the needs of didgeridoos and house building. So I was looking at Logosol sawmill and fell in love with that system. But I thought that is a bit expensive for me…
Then I found another system of DIY sawmill and I also liked it a lot. I thought this is what I will make! But I will not buy the plans, I understand the concept, so I will just use my own measurements and I will “improve” the design with my supersmartness. I heard you need about a week to make it if you have no welding experience. “I have welding experience, I will do it in three days” I thought. Reality: one month, and I got a LOT of help from Danka. It was crazily lot of work and I had so many problems with the design that I never managed to solve.
Even if we forget about fiasco that my saw was stolen one day after finishing the sawmill, it was a total failure. It served me for two years, but then I realized that I am losing a lot of time and energy whenever I am dealing with my sawmill. Guess what? In the end I decided to buy the Logosol and end my misery that way. I still can’t wrap my head around how I thought I will do a better job than someone who has been making sawmills and only sawmills for 30 years or so… hmm….
Warning: I know nothing for sure
So now that you know the background from which I am speaking add to it that I am first and foremost (besides consciousness itself, like everyone else) a didgeridoo player. I had the luck to be in the right place and right time with the right inner momentum, so I played really really a lot. Thus I was quite influential in the didgeridoo world for the past ten years or so, developing some new styles of playing and sounding didgeridoo. I have a big experience of recording and performing, trying so much of the best and worst audio equipment… and after all these years… I have much more questions than answers. I have been WRONG so many times, and I keep being wrong every now and then! I have jumped to conclusions, I have been careless about playing, making, recording… and I have payed in some way for each lesson. I learned so many stuff the hard way, and it is still a regular choice of my learning. I have doubts about everything as being the “best” for something. So we cannot take me too seriously. So please read on. 😉
The PRO and CONS of making a didgeridoo
- Make didgeridoos if it relaxes you. Think about how relaxing it is to give these didgeridoos to other people who have the curiosity to start playing didgeridoo.
- Make didgeridoos out of curiosity and as a way to experiment with your playing. Start from yourself, build best didgeridoos for yourself and see how you like them.
- Make didgeridoos to support your playing style, but sometimes try also those which challenge it.
- Make didgeridoos if you are really (and I do mean really) poor and you don’t have the money to buy one or if you don’t have access to any didgeridoo you would like to buy, either sonically or ethically.
- Respect other makers instead of dissing them. Each didgeridoo had some effort (which can vary greatly) in it to be made. Even the crappiest didge took some time and effort. On top of that, we all have some unique knowledge and if you are open and friendly you might learn a lot, even just from trying other makers’ didges.
- Make didgeridoos if it makes you nervous. Know that many times along the way you will experience problems. There is no way around it and this world doesn’t need more nervous people.
- Make didgeridoos predominantly to make money. This world has plenty of people who “just make money” and in didgeridoo world you will never find nearly as much money as in some other aspects of human activity. Many come to mind, don’t they?
- Make didgeridoos if you don’t have interest to play or you are not willing to communicate with a player. Chances are big you will make shitting instruments, and this world doesn’t need more shitty didgeridoos. At the same time, many objects which don’t have to be played will find a lot of appreciation…. Bowls, sculptures, utensils, toys, jewellery… so many things can be made out of wood.
- Make didgeridoos if you think you don’t have money to buy one and you think you will do it better. Instead clear your mind about what you want to do in life and if that is didgeridoo playing, then find a great instrument and buy it! The chance of making a really great didgeridoo by accident is quite small and it will still involve more time and effort than you think.
- Take literally everything I said. There are many situations that fall between our out of the points I mentioned. Read carefully. Beware of conclusions.
That’s it boys and girls, I hope this article helps you clear your mind about what would be the most prosperous way for your didgeridoo journey.