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Construction of an Agave Didjeridu

There are several different types of agave but only one that I know of produces a stalk worthy of making into a didjeridu. The giant blue agave plant known for its use in making tequilla also can be used to make didjeridus of great variety. The type to look for is pictured above. Make sure the stalk you use looks pretty much like the one pictured. It branches out near the top with flowers or pods at the ends of the branches. There are other varieties out there that look similiar but not quite the same. Some others get tall like this but look more like a fox tail, no good for didj making. The agave is not a cactus, although it is often refered to in this way. A fleshy green succulent related to the amaryllis, the agave takes 8 to 12 years to reach maturity. Once mature it sends up a stalk, usually in May/June, to height of 8 to 30 feet tall. It only takes three months or so for this to happen. Due to the extremely fast growth this process also kills the plant.

I was once concerned about the legalities of the removal of these stalks from public lands so I wrote to a few government type places and the following is a response:


Cactus wood is not protected under the Arizona Native Plant Law. However, written permission must be obtained from the landowner before entering and removing material from private property.

Public land (BLM or Forest Service) requires written authorization from the land management agency for the commercial removal of cactus wood or any natural resource. For infomation regarding public lands, contact the Bureau of Land Management at (602)780-8090 or the National Forest Service Regional Office in Albuquerque, NM at (505)842-3270.


You may want to check any local laws to make sure you won't be violating any when you remove these stalks. I do have a rule of my own though. These plants/stalks are beautiful while they are standing, even when they are pretty dead, so I leave the standing ones standing for others to enjoy looking at them. There are usually quite a few others to pick from that are fallen, or tipped over. I take a small saw with me and trim the stalk to size right there in the desert.

One should understand before trying to make a didj from an agave stalk that it is not an easy task. This tutorial will make it seem easy but it is very messy and requires some patience, and the proper tools to do so... and once finished there are no guarantees on the qualities of the sounds the didj will make. If you just want a quality agave didj that is beautifully crafted/finished then the easiest way is to buy one from one of the master builders like Bill Hudson, Allan Shockley or Rob Thomas. These builders I know of because they are located in the SouthWest US where I live, but I am sure there are other builders out there turning a fine product. For the money they're asking for their instruments and knowing the amount of time they spend on creating them it's no less than a bargain.

Construction of an Agave Didjeridu
(I need these files)
Choosing a stalk

Last updated: 11/02/07

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