Get the 14" Drum. Trust me...it's a no brainer. I deal with Remo Djembes on a regular basis. They make them in 10" thru 18". The 10" and 18" are terrible. The 12" drum is good for smaller kids, etc... The 16" drum is good for one player in a group. The 14" drum is the best size as far as the Remo drums go. If you need any other details...send a PM.
I have a 16" and I've heard the 14" and like it better. Nearly as good bass tone and better slap tone to it... not to mention more portable.
Still better IMO would be a wood one. I have one of those too and that one with its goatskin head, kills the Remo. I've heard the Remo djembe's sound pretty good when people have played them live, when they're miced up and eq'ed, but when they're played sans micing they sound really flat compared to the real deal. I sat in for a few classes in a African djembe class and I was the only one with a plastic drum... and you could tell, everyone else had a much, much better tone than me.
A good real carved wood instrument with a hide head on it is going to sound worlds better. About the only advantage to the Remo would be that it's easier to tune and lighter to port around. Learn how to tune a rope tuned drum and deal with porting around something heavy and you'll be paid off well in something that's more inspiring to play and just plain sounds better.
...as do I. Actually, just picked it up not too long ago and have been experimenting. I've tried a few smaller ones and also found them to be on the 'thin' side. I'd say if you're debating the 12" vs. the 14", go with the 14". I know the 16" has some pretty nice bottom end, and I'd have to think that the 14" wouldn't be too far off of that.
I like the 14" as well. I feel that it covers "all the bases". Also,, with Remo you get a man made head that is easily replaced along with bolt tension and a shell constructed from materials that are insusceptible to climate.
I have several Remo Djembes in stock (and can get more). I also have hand-carved models with goatskin and rope tension, made in Mali available. PM or email/call from the link that appears in my signature
Have you tried on both for size? Seriously, one will have a deeper sound than the other. Which you like more, is subjective.
Agreed. I tried both before buying and personally liked the 12 better. The highs are higher, which for me was better for my purposes (playing drum set parts on a hand drum). I mic the top and bottom of the drum, and it always gets rave reviews.
I love my 14" Remo. It's got the deep low end and the slap that are essential to a good djembe sound. The 12" is a good drum for auxiliary percussion (playing along with others or a kit) but the 14" has a bit more "ooomph" when playing as the only percussion instrument in an ensemble.
I talked with joebob about this over a PM. He had some specific questions and I gave him my thoughts on the subject. Fact of the matter is...the Remo djembes are good drums for multi purpose hand drumming. If you own a 12"...you like that best. If you own a 14"...etc...etc...
One of the performance groups I teach is an African Drum & Dance Ensemble. I use a variety of drums in the group. The Remo's hold up well and stay in tune. We have a 12", several 14's & a 16". We also have some Mountain Rhythm drums (very light, easy to tune, goat skin heads), and we have some drums from West Africa (Traditional solid shells, goat skin, heavy).
Here is a tip on the 14" "ring" (more like "ping") that I recieved from Paulo Mattioli. Take a small 1" inch piece of weather stripping, the kind you put around windows to keep air out. Place the strip under the head right at the Remo Logo. That small piece will take that "ping" out of the drum but not dampen it like moongel might.
I recommend the remo mondo 12 inch djembe over the 14". (I have both) The 12' has less high pitched ringing than the 14' remo mondo djembe. There is ample space on the 12' head to play. The drum is easier to handle if you play with the drum between your knees. If you want a deeper sound, buying a larger djembe does not get you much. To get a deeper sound you need a different head. The remo mondo nuskyn head designed for tubano's is is much deeper than the skyndeep head designed for djembes.
If you want a deep sound don't look at djembes at all. Look at the Remo Tubanos. The tubano's are much deeper in tone than the djembes and have the added benefit of being able to be played sitting on the ground. The reason the tubanos are deeper in tone is the tubano heads are thicker than the djembe heads. If you like to play around with heads you can put a nuskyn mondo tubano head on a mondo djembe. I have a 12" Remo Mondo black earth djembe set up like this and it is a joy to play. Keep this in mind. The drum facilitators who own dozens of drums usually put their money into tubanos.