Different woods produce different sounds. It's hard to know what type of wood you are going to prefer. This really just requires you to play a lot of drums. Some woods from Africa are very hard and subsequently very heavy. This does not mean they will sound better. In fact, I prefer a drum that does not weigh a ton. Lighter drums are easier to handle and thus you are less likely to damage them. Mahogany makes a very fine wood for drums. Mahogany is a relatively stable wood, does not weigh a ton and is dense enough to produce a nice open sound. This is why many drum set manufacturers build drum shells with Mahogany. Mahogany is also often plantation grown which is an important environmental aspect.
Be careful of some of the thin and/or two piece shells on the market. If they don't say their drums are made from a single piece of wood, don't buy it. It won't sound good and it's sure to crack sooner or later. Thin shells will not produce a good bass tone either.
Look for drums laced with Alpine rope and not just heavy string.
Thumb Pianos - Lekembe - Mbira
Western Zambia - Angola - DRC - Botswana
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Lekembe and Mbira, are generic names for several African thumb pianos or lamellophones. Tongues or keys can be made of wood, iron or bamboo. In South Africa thumb pianos are called kalinda or kalimba and sometimes sansa. The object on offer is typical of those used in south western Congo, western Zambia and much of Angola. This came to us from an estate sale which included mostly southern African beaded objects - many dating to the 1940's. Hornets wax was added to seal a carved compartment. (upper right image)
Old Man Girl playing similar Lekembe - Circa 1950 Another
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In south western Congo, western Zambia and much of Angola, a thumb piano is called Casagi, Lekembe and Sanza. Marie Louise Bastin referred to related examples in Angola as Lungandu. The carved incised face is a representation of an initiation mask.
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Note the iron collar beads added to create a rattle on some keys or prongs.
This example is large and produces an excellent sound.