A Day of Didge
So after a few days of Didge lessons with Che I decided to bite the bullet and get my hands dirty by making a Didge from scratch!
The first step is picking the length of wood, so off to the psychedelic Arts Factory Bust shed we went. I had a vision of what I wanted my didge to look and sound like; something really deep and traditional with curves and lots of character…I don’t ask for much!
All the lengths of wood were already hollowed – something I was entrigued about and Che filled me in on.
Traditional Didgeridoos are machine or chiseled out, they are naturally eaten away by albino ants and termites. Due to their albino nature the ants only eat the middle section of the wood as they would burn and die if exposed to sunlight…how cool is nature?!
I also learnt that to collecting this type of wood is extremely hard work, with each individual brach needed to be knocked to hear the sound and quality before being harvested.
After hunting around the perfect candidate was selected and was giving a test play before taking it to the Didge Pit to be shaped.
The intial step in shaping is to remove all the bark and shave it down to the clean white flesh underneath. Sounds simple in theory but in the Aussie heat and a curved piece of wood this becomes a rather sweaty task. After about 45 mins I was dripping wet and slightly achey but the task was done – all bar a slight section at the bell of the didge which I kept the bark on for a bit more character.
Next up was the finishing touches shaping wise; first was fine shaving the nicks out with the blade, followed by half an hour of sandpapering to really smooth it out and get it ready for polishing.
The polish was by far the easiest part of making the didge…simply wack on the varnish, rub it in and make sure the whole thing is covered!
Half hour of drying time and the final step is the mouthpiece. Traditional mouthpieces are made from beeswax, heated in boiling water and then shaped around the top of the didge into a shape which best fits the player – it takes time to mould it well, making sure it’s all securely fixed around and slightly inside the wood, but it smells like honey!
A couple of minutes for the mouthpiece to cool and I was done – one hand made, 100% Australian Didgeridoo…STOKED!
Big thanks to Che for all his help an amusing presence – I’d definitely recommend his services for anyone wanting a top quality Didge or an Australian keepsake with a story behind it…
…but if you’re feeling lazy Che also has some ready shaped ones for sale!