(and other didgeridoos as well)

It goes without saying that didgeridoos are musical instruments. Duende didgeridoo are very fine musical instruments, and this is how you should treat them if you expect them to treat you the same way.

There are two vital points to consider when taking care of your Duende didgeridoo – one is environment in physical sense, and the other is environment in atmospheric – humidity & temperature sense. The latter is the most common cause of cracks.

How to protect your didgeridoo from physical damage?

Hopefully you have a good bag for your didgeridoo, one that is padded all the way, and no minor hits to the didgeridoo have any effect. It is recommended to keep your instrument in this kind of bag most of the time. Even when you go from one room to another, there is a good opportunity to dent your didgeridoo when passing through the door. Didgeridoos are long, and it is not easy to maneuver them in closed space without ever touching anything. So the more your instrument is in the bag, the more it is protected. Do not leave your bag upright in the middle of the wall. It can stand upright, but in a corner or a stand which keeps it safe from falling over. Do not underestimate the attention gravity has on every material object. What looses balance, goes down, and it is especially true for objects that do not have big base to keep them in balance, like didgeridoos.

When you play your didgeridoo, watch out where you put the bell end. Know that if you put your didgeridoo to a surface that is not soft and smooth, it will be abrased and eventually will miss part of the wood on the edge. Therefore if you want to maintain your didgeridoo in perfect condition, you should put a soft fabric underneath the bell while you play. It can be a piece of cardboard, wool, cloth… you get the point.

However, even with careful use, every finish will slowly get micro scratches, and will slowly lose the gloss. This is normal. Good news is that it can most often be easily renovated. If you wish, we can renovate your Duende didgeridoo, and if you wish to do it yourself, write us an e-mail, and we will help you through the process.

How to protect your didgeridoo from temperature and humidity changes?

Wood is an alive material, even after it is no longer part of a living tree. It is essential to know the basic principle of how wood works regarding the environment, to know how to take care of your wood instrument. There are two most basic principles you need to know.

  1. When wood looses humidity, it shrinks. The opposite is also true. Loss of humidity is the most common cause of wood cracking.
  2. Wood tends to establish balance of humidity with the surrounding. If wood is „drier than the air”, in some way, it will absorb the moisture from air, if it is „wetter” it will release it into air.

You don’t need to understand fully the relation of stability between wood and air, even though an easy table which represent it can be found on wikipedia. What you need to know to take good care of your instruments is that air humidity should be between 40% and 60%. It is good to know that it is a bigger problem if the air is too dry than too wet, and most problems come during winter when air humidity inside houses drops significantly. It is due to the reason that air at lower temperatures can absorb less water in total than at high temperatures. For example air at 20 °C and relative humidity 50% has much more total humidity than air at -10 °C and 50% relative humidity. When dry air in winter comes from outside, by airing the room, and is warmed up to room temperature, its relative humidity becomes very low. Winter times are the times when you have to take most care of your instrument. It is very good to get yourself an air humidity monitor (hygrometer), and try to keep humidity in winter high enough. Good news is that very low humidity is also not good for humans, and amazingly humans and wood have same optimal humidity which is between 40% and 60%. So you will also benefit from keeping humidity level optimal for your didgeridoo.
Even 30% is acceptable if you gradually reach that point and gradually go out of it. But in winter time many people have around 5% humidity inside the house! That is the real problem and one of two most common causes of cracking. If you want to check your humidity, you need calibrated moisture meter as non calibrated can be very off. On the calibrated models you usually have something like +-3% written on them.

Accustom your didgeridoo to playing!

When you receive a new instrument, take into account that it has probably been playing for a very few time before you got it. Therefore you need to accustom it to playing. If you buy a second hand instrument, you can also ask how much has the didgeridoo been played before, and in what state it is in, regarding playing. Didgeridoos receive an extra amount of stress compared to other instrument, and that is water and moisture that is produced when you play.
Saliva and vapour from your breath both penetrate into your didgeridoo from the inside to a certain extent. When they do, the wood in the inside of didgeridoo, especially in the mouthpiece area swells, while the outer layer remains about the same as before. It takes time for the instrument to get accustomed to the new level of humidity. Thus it is always advised to gradually increase the amount of playing with every new instrument. You can start with something like 10-20 minutes max (the harder the wood the less playing) and increase by 5 minutes or so, every five days,  maybe leaving some day of rest. Once your reach hour and a half, it should be accustomed to playing, and no longer as prone to cracking.

It is a good practice to rotate instrument when you play, so saliva does not make only one path down the instrument.
After each playing session put your instrument upright for about 10 minutes so that saliva pours out from it freely. If you lean it on the wall put some cloth on the mouthpiece to protect the instrument from direct contact to the wall. However this is no guarantee that nothing will happen to the instrument, since wood is always alive material. Some wood is much more prone to cracking compared to the other. Even if you have tough time with your new instrument, know that this taking care makes a bond with you, and eventually every crack reduces inside stress of wood and makes it more stable. Remember it is a good practice to change instruments when you practice, if you practice for several hours.
If you have any further questions, or directions how to treat small cracks, contact us by mail.

Mystical reasons – the last but not the least reason for didgeridoo cracking!

Sometimes didgeridoos crack when they change the place and owner even when all the mentioned measurable variables are in the right place. When that happens, you can still accept it and make the repairs needed, without the exact understanding of how it happened.  But in case of doubt, change your humidity meter to a better one.
One more important aspect of taking care of your didgeridoo is cleaning. But it is a topic that is not as crucial as the cracking and we will dedicate separate article to cleaning. For now know that we advise that you wipe the inside of the mouthpiece with a piece of cloth after EACH playing!One more article will be dedicated to repairing of cracks.For another good article on didgeridoo care, you can visit Didgeridoo Breath.

We wish you best of luck with your tubular friends!