For a long time in short modern didgeridoo history, there was a hype about big bells. But we never said out loud why the hype came to be in the first place. So I will say it.

Because didgeridoo world is mostly men’s world and men are funny big boys with toys, so we all wanted to have a bigger toy than the other boy. Simply put, the bell looks good in most people’s eyes.
It looks good on stage, it looks good on a wall, it looks good in the streets, it just has this flashy effect and it will impress people, especially if they do not know a lot about didgeridoos.

But now that we have grown a bit older, we can re-question our pursuit to have big bells at the end of our didgeridoo.

Big bells make quite big acoustic impact and they change the sound spectrum quite a lot. Usually not to the balanced side. They do not make an instrument so much louder as we would like it to be.  But the real issue is the imbalance of sound qualities of the instrument. So now that we have grown up and out of first fascination with didgeridoo, it is good time to ask ourselves “do I want a didgeridoo that sounds best possible or one that looks flashy?”

Now, big bells have some advantages, even general ones.

  • The first one that comes to mind is ability to put more microphones in front of the didgeridoo.
  • The second one is that they will not interfere so much with the acoustics of the didgeridoo.
  • The third one is good projection quality that is important for acoustic performances.

But most of all, I like to approach instruments as a whole (hole) and there are some didgeridoos that I have found to really need the  big bell principle. Whereas many others would do better with having very moderate bells or no bells at all. As one general principle, we could say that long instruments can more often justify bigger bells. Because the whole instrument is bigger and the way bell works in 300 cm long instruments is very  different than when we speak of 150cm didgeridoo. Physically it is the same principle, but psychoacoustically it is not.

So I invite you into the realm of didgeridoos where you listen first and look second. And this we could also try on people ;-)

Thanks for reading!

- Du