Didgeridoo Sounds

Didgeridoo Sounds

Dry didgeridoo sounds

I often hear the expression ‘dry didgeridoo sound’ or ‘tradtional didgeridoo sound’. It often refers to a high-tone didgeridoo, often in the key F, F# or G. The dryness comes from the sound of wood that is produced with high-tone didgeridoos. There is a lot more pressure on the wood which creates a more wooden didgeridoo sound. Also old recordings of tradional playing have this dry didgeridoo sound. Or properly cured eucalyptus wood helps to resonate the wood (old didgeridoos). A general mistake that often is made, is that the term dry can be mistaken with a ‘dull didgeridoo sound’ wich comes from muffled didgeridoos or didgeridoos that have mud inside or just have very dry wood inside or dryrot. The instrument will not sing or resonate as much. A dry didgeridoo might sound very good after been played for a while. The wood will soak up the moist from your breath and the wood will start to sing more. Another bad dry didgeridoo sound or dull sound comes from too much wood thickness. Too much meat, the Australians say. The real traditional dry didgeridoo sound does sing, resonate, overtone and makes almost a tearing sound. Maybe even a crispy sound!

Traditional didgeridoo sounds

See Dry didgeridoo sound.

Dry singing didgeridoo sounds

The didgeridoo / wood starts to resonate in a way that it sounds like the whole didgeridoo is singing. 

See Dry didgeridoo sound.

Clear treble didgeridoo sound

The term ‘clear didgeridoo sound’ is often used if a didgeridoo has nothing inside to obstruct the sound. Or other reasons that can make the sound dull. Clear also means that the bass does not drown the overtones. It does not have to be specifically a warm sound. But clear with the treble floating on top. When using your voice or other didgeridoo sounds they come out very clear. On the surface you might say. What makes a didgeridoo less clear is a chamber somewhere in the didgeridoo where the sound and pressure sort of stays. A sort of feeling like the sound comes from somewhere inside the didgeridoo instead of blown out of the bell bottom!

Bassy didgeridoo sound

The term bassy didgeridoo sound comes from didgeridoos that have more of a deep drone. Not a low tone! Low tone didgeridoos have a lower frequenty. But a deep or bassy tone didgeridoo comes from a bigger inner column. If a didgeridoo gets rapidly wider 50 to 40 cm from the bottom end of the didgeridoo it can start to produce a more loud and bassy sound. The deepness of the bass comes more from the width of the total didgeridoo.

Drowning overtones in bass sound

This happens when a didgeridoo is going too rapidly wider to very wide to its bottom or bell bottom. The flare misses the gradual widening wich causes bass to dominate the didgeridoos overtones. It is like the overtones are drowning in it. The ‘back’ pressure is released too quickly. These didgeridoos sound very powerful but they can actually not hold too much pressure and can also make an irritating ‘whoa sound’. This is a didgeridoo sound that comes when you give extra pressure. Although some people like it ??!!

Turbulent instability

This happens when the conical shape of a didgeridoo is too rapidly changing in the didgeridoos column. Just like the bassy-sounded didgeridoos they release their pressure to quickly. But the difference with a bassy-sounded didgeridoo is that after the release the didgeridoo does not go ‘rapidly’ wider but more gradual. So the pressure is to be maintained again after it’s released. Turbulent instabillity causes instability of the airflow and a feeling that the didgeridoo is stopping everytime you give less pressure or take a breath. The didgeridoo does not want to continue as much and does not want to keep its tone easily constant. Just like the bassy didges. These didgeridoos can sound very powerful, but they can actually not hold too much pressure and can also make an irritating ‘whoa sound’. This is a sound that comes when you give extra pressure. Although some people like it!

Other reasons for turbulent instabilty can come from chambers in the didgeridoos column or mufflers etc.

Back pressure didgeridoos

This is a very generalized term for didgeridoos that need more pressure to play them. Although the back pressure of a low-tone didgeridoo can also be better or worse. But saying, I am looking for a low-tone didgeridoo with a lot of back pressure, makes less sense. The lower the tone of the didgeridoo the less presure is needed to make it play. If the back pressure is nicely balanced then the consistency of the airflow comes out better. Also you have ‘more time’ to ‘grasp’ or use advanced didgeridoo techniques and accents. It is like the didgeridoo holds its pressure firmly and gives you etxra time/ space to mix your variations of accents through the rhythm or breathing pattern. High-tone extended conical didgeridoos slow down the speed of the airflow a lot. So you can implement more of your didgeridoo techniques easier and faster in a way.

Pressurizing the didgeridoo

By pressurizing the didgeridoo we mean that not only is a didgeridoo fine-tuned to balance the tone, but there is also been taking care of the back pressure of the didgeridoo. To create a fluent back pressure the air that is speeded up through the inner column must gradually find its way out. By gradually we mean not released too quickly by expanding the width of the column too fast. A didgeridoo that expands too fast creates too much bass and ‘drowns’ the overtones. More so, an in-turbulent airflow can occur which makes the didgeridoo unstable and not continuous in its fluency. The back pressure fluctuates and circular breathing becomes irregular. When a didgeridoo is properly pressurized, it feels like it wants to play by itself. The didgeridoo is not slowing down or a feeling of a gap appearing when taking a breath in during circular breathing.


When making a didgeridoo we put a lot of effort in pressurizing the didgeridoos. I believe we are the only didgeridoo makers who go far in this procedure. By 'pushing' the pitch of a didgeridoo you can make a didgeridoo drone with the slightest blow. The pressurizing is done before the outside wood of the didgeridoo is taken of. You need to shape and fine tune the column of the didgeridoo to a maximum balanced back pressure. With split didgeridoo making this procedure is impossible. You can not fine tune the didgeridoo when the didgeridoo is cut in halve : ) Although I have screwed up may didgeridoos before getting it right. The tendicy is to want to 'push the pitch' up to high and then the didgeridoo looses a lot of it's harmonious qualities.

Crispy didgeridoo sounds

This comes from a properly cured didgeridoo. Also the column of the didgeridoo is nice and ‘clean’ (no obstructions). The sound bounces in the column and the surface is hard from lacker or just hard wood and the body or wood thickness of the didgeridoo is thick enough. It is almost like the term ‘clear didgeridoo sound’ but I use crispy also for higher tone didgeridoos and nice overtones. The emphasis of this sound comes from the hard surface in the didgeridoos column. See also Dry didgeridoo sound.

Tearing and roaring didgeridoo sounds

See also dry didgeridoo sound. It is just as if the didgeridoo is torn apart. The wood sound of the didgeridoo comes out very strong from the pressure that goes through it. Definitely a high-tone didgeridoo characteristic. G didgeridoos have this if they are well made and not dull. It is almost like you can hear the wood of the didge itself more than the sound that comes out of the bottom! Hard woods have this character more.

Sideway didgeridoo sound

I am not sure if this can be heard. But I like the idea of hearing the wood sound coming from the sideway of the didge. See also Tearing and roaring sound.

Muffled didgeridoo sound

This happens when the inner column of the didgeridoo goes from wider to narrower instead of vice versa. Many didgeridoo have this because the termites seem to first go through a smaller hole at the bottom of the didgeridoo and start to eat more when they are 20 to 30 cm from the bottom of the didgeridoos stem or belle bottom. It does depend on the wood type or tree. And also from which height you cut the didgeridoo. Some say you should cut the stem 40 cm or more from the ground and that the shape of the didgeridoo will be better and the tree has more chance to regenerate. Others like to cut the didgeridoo more from the bottom to have more flare or bell bottom. Then again, often land owners do not like the stems sticking out of the ground for fear of their tyres. Anyway our didgeridoos do not have these mufflers because we will chisle them out if they are there. If a didgeridoo has a muffler, it feels like the pressure is falling down all the time when circular breathing. The didgeridoo has the sound of an airplane that falls down from the sky each time when you take another breath.

Voluminous didgeridoo sound

This just refers to a didgeridoo that produces a loud sound with not too much effort. Usually buskers/ street performers want this type of didgeridoo. High-tone didgeridoos are often more loud then low-tone didgeridoos. The size of the bell bottom does not have to implicate that the didge will be extra voluminous in sound. Most of our higher-tone didgeridoos have a voluminous sound and some have an exceptionally loud sound!

Full didgeridoo sounds

See harmonious didgeridoo sound.

Loud didgeridoo sound

See voluminous didgeridoo sound.

Basic didgeridoo drone /sound

The basic drone of a didgeridoo is the sound that is been made by basic or normal didgeridoo playing. It is also what categorizes the tone of the didgeridoo. It does not contain voices, toots (trumpet) or other didgeridoo sound effects.

Harmonious didgeridoo sounds

The term full or harmonious didgeridoo sound is often used for didgeridoos that have a medium or bigger mouthpiece and the column of the didgeridoo is relatively wide. Because the sound travels through a wider column of the didgeridoo there is more space for a fuller sound. Voices and overtones can come out more clearly. There is less pressure on the didgeridoo and so the sound also echoes more on the didgeridoos wall in the column. Depending on the didgeridoo techniques you would like to learn a wider column in the beginning is recomended. Wider columns come in all categories of didgeridoos. Generally smaller columns make trumpet tones and and other techniques like jaw movements more easy. Read more about this in the didgeridoo webshop's info on the different categories of didgeridoos or how to choose.

Rich didgeridoo sounds

Same as harmonious and full didgeridoo sound. Though you can imagine that a didgeridoo with mud inside that has not been cleaned out properly, can have a poor sound!

Poor didgeridoo sounds

We do not sell didgeridoos with a poor didgeridoo sound although it is more common that an original termite-hollowed didgeridoo will have a poor sound than a normal sound. Most didgeridoos in Australia are sold for its decorative looks. Many Australian didgeridoo shops see the didgeridoo more as a souvenir than an instrument. Just like the boomerangs that do not come back!

Amplified didgeridoo sound

See voluminous sound.

High tone didgeridoo

See key.

Low tone didgeridoo

See key.

Sharp tone didgeridoo

See clear didgeridoo sound. Sharp can also refer to a sharp didgeridoo sound that comes from very dense eucalyptus wood. The sharpness of the didgeridoo comes from the fact that the didgeridoo does not vibrate as much as with a lighter wood. Most of our didgeridoos will have a sharp tone anyway. Not like bamboo or other lighter woods or badly-made eucalyptus or softer eucalyptus didgeridoos that grow more in the southern regions of Australia.

Ground tone of the didgeridoo

See basic drone.

Didgeridoo Overtone

This refers to an echo or a tone that you can here on top of the ground tone of the didgeridoo. It is usually experienced as a pleasent sound that harmonizes the overall tone or sound of the didgeridoo. I am not a sound specialist so I cannot exactly describe what an overtone is in general. But if I find somebody that does I will add it to this description. Some people call the trumpet tone or tooth of the didgeridoo the overtone. But that’s not the didgeridoo sound for what I use the term for.

Dense-wood didgeridoo sound

The eucalyptus wood density makes the didgeridoo resonate in a certain way. The denser the wood of the didgeridoo, the more pressure it can hold. High-tone didgeridoos benefit from this tremendously. Very dense wood didgeridoos can have a tearing and singing sound. Most of the non Australian woods used for didgeridoos are softer wood although we do not use the softer woods for our didgeridoos at all. The denser wood is also what can make eucalyptus didgeridoos more powerful and voluminous. Read more about wood densities in the different eucalyptus types for didgerdidoos.

Light-wood didgeridoo sound

Normally didgeridoos in a lighter colour usually have a lighter wood density. Less density than didgeridoos in a darker red or brown colour. Although the light colour didgeridoo can be made of the same tree type as a darker color wood didgeridoo. It can be that the termites have eaten all the red wood out of the inside so that only the sap wood remains. Eucalyptus didgeridoo wood has its sap wood on the outside of the tree, not in the centre like a lot of European trees. It can also be that light-coloured didgeridoos are light in colour on the outside but red and hard on the inside. Many didgeridoos are red with a white flare. That’s because the bell or flare of the didgeridoo is wider and goes into the outside sap wood of the tree. Softer or lighter Eucalyptus wood grows in southern regions of Australia. The harder wood comes more from the tropical and top-end drier regions.

Many self-made split didgeridoos or bamboo etc. are light in colour and have a softer density. The sound can be less sharp or clear and the body of the didgeridoo does often not have the strength to hold drone properly. Specially with the higher note/ tone didgeridoos you can here the density difference in the sound. The didgeridoo will ‘shake’ more. This does not imply that there are not very beautiful self-made didgeridoos made by professional makers. For some it is even a matter of taste.

Shaking / vibrating didgeridoo  bell bottom

Generally speaking this comes from a didgeridoo wall that is too thin on the end or bell of a didgeridoo. Other reasons can come from a sudden widening of the flare of the didgeridoo. It can limit the didgeridoos power and have an irritating effect that you are held back in your speed. Also see drowning overtones in bass sound and turbulent instability.

Shaking / vibrating didgeridoo

This is the opposite of a shaking / vibrating didgeridoo bell bottom. The bell or flare of the didgeridoo is too heavy so the didgeridoo is not well ‘balanced’. When playing a didgeridoo that has this effect the bell bottom of the didgeridoo will dominate the flow of the didgeridoo. You will experience that you are limited in your speed and volume. You can have the feeling that the top of the didgeridoo is vibrating against your mouth. This comes from the vibration in the wood that is sent back up, because the heavier wood on the bell bootm of the didgeridoo is not letting the vibration free. It can also have the same effect as a muffler in the didgeridoo, although that’s worse. On lower key didgeridoos the heavier bell bottom has less effect than on higher key didgeridoos. Generally speaking higher key didgeridoos react a lot more on every sort of discrepancies in the column bell etc.


See also Didgeridoo Webshop Characteristics


Copyright by Melle Smit - Didgeridoowebshop.com | Aboriginal Art & Instruments