Whether you’re a fan of Latin music or partake in drum circles, chances are you’ve heard the mesmerizing beats that can be achieved with a bongo. Unlike a standard drum set, bongo drums are played with your palms or hands and don’t require the use of drum sticks
. Bongos also work beautifully with a range of other instruments, including the trumpet
. Many people enjoy using bongo drums due to the instrument’s ability to create crisp, rich beats in such a small, compact package.
Before you go rushing off and purchasing just any old bongo, however, there are a few things you may want to consider beforehand. Firstly, bongo drums are available for different skill levels depending on how long you’ve been playing the bongos for and how confident you feel playing them. If you’re new to the world of bongos then you may want to opt for bongos specifically for beginners. These products are often smaller in size and require less force to make the infamous bongo sound (they’re also ideal for students because of their light weight).
If, however, you’re a bit of an expert when it comes to the bongo drums, then you should look for professional-style products instead. Although professional-style bongos tend to be more expensive, they make a larger variety of sounds; this makes them more diverse and able to accompany a much larger group of instruments.
You’re also going to want to have a little think about the size of your new bongos. This is going to depend on a variety of factors, including your personal preferences, the space you’ll be using the bongos in, and whether or not you’ll need to easily transport them from place to place. As bongos are designed to be played in either your lap or in the space in front of you, they tend to be much smaller in comparison to other percussion instruments.
With some of these things in mind, let’s go ahead and learn more about what these features mean for you.
When it comes to the cost of your new bongos, this is going to depend on a variety of factors. Most bongo drums will set you back between $18 and $70, depending on what the product is made from and the product’s skill level.
Bongos at the higher end of this scale are usually for more professional use and are made from better-quality materials such as Siam oak or hickory. They may also have more features, such as rubber-gripped feet for stability or a wrench for drum skin adjustments. Sometimes, more expensive bongos are larger in size as well, though not always.
Bongo drums at the lower end of this scale are often more suited to beginners and are made from less-expensive materials such as plastic or rubber. Cheaper bongos are available ($15 or less), but be aware that these products will not be as durable or have as high a quality of sound.
The features you’ll want included in your new bongo drums will depend entirely on your personal preferences as well as your skill level and experience. There are a few features, however, that we recommend watching for to ensure you choose a product that’s of the highest quality.
Here are some important features to look out for:
- Wrench Included
- Rubber Feet
- Round Rims
- Natural Skin Drum Heads
Construction and Design
Most bongos weigh anywhere between 6 and 8 pounds depending on how large you need the bongos to be. Professional musicians tend to opt for larger bongos, which will usually weigh between 7 and 8 pounds with the two drums measuring around 6.5 inches and 7.5 inches. Beginners, however, are better suited to smaller products weighing in at 6 to 6.5 pounds with drums measuring between 6 and 7 inches.
If you’re going to be travelling around with the bongos or carrying them between classes, then smaller sets will be better suited to your needs. This is the same for those who have a particularly small frame too, as the bongos will need to be able to comfortably rest in your lap or the space in front of you. You may also want to have a little think about where you’ll be storing the bongos, and whether or not you have enough space for a larger set or if a smaller bongo drum will be more suitable.
Another thing to consider when purchasing bongos is the material the product is made from. Most bongos are made in Asia, using locally sourced woods such as Siam oak, ply wood, or hickory. These products are often used by professionals as they make a more traditional bongo sound. Be aware, however, that these products tend to be more expensive in comparison to products made from plastic. As well as the material used, you’re also going to want to think about the type of finish you want on your new bongos.
Performance and Ease of Use
When searching for your ideal bongos, we recommend looking for products that include a tuning wrench. This will allow you to adjust and tune your drums with ease for a variety of bongo sounds! This feature is particularly useful if you’re a musician or play in a band.
We also recommend keeping an eye out for products that include rubber feet. This will stop the drums from slipping whilst you play and offer you more stability for a greater sound. This feature is particularly useful if you’ll be playing the drums on the floor rather than at your side or on your lap.
Rounded rims are also a useful feature to look for in bongo drums as it makes them much more comfortable to play, especially if you prefer playing the drums in your lap or at your side. This will enable you to play the drums for a longer period of time without causing you discomfort.
Finally, we recommend looking for bongo drums with a natural drum skin as this will make for easier tuning adjustments as well as a more authentic sound. The majority of bongo drums use buffalo skin, as this creates a larger variety of sounds at a much louder noise level.
When it comes to caring for your new bongo, there isn’t actually too much to it. You’re going to want to tune your new bongo drum from time to time to maintain a high sound quality. It’s a good idea to tighten the head of the drum about a quarter turn at a time by moving the lug clockwise. You’ll also want to make sure that the lugs are evenly tightened for a greater quality of sound. The best way to ensure your drum is evenly tightened is through the feel of the skin rather than the sound. If the head of your bongo begins to feel coarse or scratchy, then simply rub a small amount of almond or coconut oil onto the skin; you can do this as often as you need to.
Bongo drums are available in a large variety of finishes, depending on your personal style and tastes. If you’re a fan of traditional designs then you may want to opt for products with either a natural or clear finish. If, however, you’re more on the eccentric side, then bongos with brightly colored finishes or pictures may be more your thing.
Fingers crossed, after reading through our buying guide you’ve now figured out what type of bongo drums are most suitable for your needs and all the features you would like your new bongo to have. This will make it a lot easier when it comes to narrowing down your options and selecting the ideal bongos for you and your next drum circle! So, let’s get looking at our top five picks, shall we?
With over 32 years of experience behind it, Tycoon Percussion specializes in creating high-quality musical instruments for a variety of skills and music levels. The Bangkok-based brand is well-known for its quality products in various parts of the world including Europe and Asia, as well as the United States in more recent days. With its resume of incredible instruments and happy customers, Tycoon Percussion is a brand you can rely on for your musical needs.
We wanted to feature the Tycoon Percussion Ritmo Bongos due to the product’s attractive natural finish and the brand’s popularity as a whole. Made from carefully selected Siam Oak wood, these 6-inch and 7-inch bongos are made using soft, durable water buffalo skin heads. As well as this, the bongos have a black powder coating and reinforced side plates, with both lugs and backing plates that are 5/16-inch in diameter. These bongos are ideal for both beginners and percussion enthusiasts, and include a tuning wrench for adjustments. They’re also super lightweight and portable, making them ideal for music students.
We’re hoping that, by now, you’ve stumbled across your perfect bongo drum set and are now busy planning your next jam session with your friends. If, however, this isn’t the case then don’t you worry! We’ve purposefully selected brands that have lots of different products to offer; all you have to do is browse through their other collections to find the best bongos for you!