Bongo Drums: History and Buying Guide

03/29/2012


ImageWhen considering the thousands of different bongo drum options out there, it can be rather overwhelming to choose which ones are right for you. That’s why we’ve made this guide. After reading all of the information below, we hope you leave feeling confident about whatever buying decision you make.

Bongo drums or bongos are an Afro-Cuban percussion instrument made of a duo of single-headed drums attached to each other. The drums are of different sizes, usually of 7″x 8″ and 6″ x 7″ measurements. The larger drum is called the hembra (Spanish for female) and the smaller is called the macho (Spanish for male). They’re in the membranophones family–instruments that create sound by vibration against a stretched membrane.

Bongos have a rich history in folklore music known as changüí, originating out of eastern Cuba at around the 19th century. Today, bongos are present in a variety of western musical genres including Latin Jazz, salso, mambo, reggae, rumba, techno, hip-hop, rock, etc. Their shells can be made from an assortment of materials including metal, various wood types, and synthetic materials such as fiberglass.

Bongo drums produce a warm, relatively high-pitched sound similar to congas. They’re usually played with the hands and held between the knees with the larger drum closest to the dominant hand. The edges of the bongos are often played with the fingers or palms to provide variation in tone. Bongos are less commonly played with drum sticks and brushes.

The most common material for the bongo shell is Siam oak, due to its durability. Buffalo hides are also generally used for the heads, as they’re capable of producing the sought-after combination of warm, rich bass and higher-pitched tones. Other materials can be used, however no other material quite measures up to the fullness and response as that of the Siam oak/buffalo hide combination. It is therefore important to spend the extra money on bongos made out of the right materials in professional situations. Beginners may choose to purchase a set made of synthetic materials; this is not necessarily discouraged for those on a budget. However, beginners should bear in mind that they may want to branch out to something of a more professional level as their playing skill progresses.

Tycoon Percussion is known for their high-quality bongos available in music stores across the country as well as various online venues. Check out some great bongo options below suitable for players of a variety of skill and budget levels:

Entry-Level Bongos: 

ImageNatural Finish Supremo Series Bongos by Tycoon

-Constructed of hand selected environmentally-friendly Siam Oak Wood7” & 8.5” drums with high quality water buffalo skin heads

-Black powder coated traditional hoops, reinforced side plates, 5/16” diameter tuning lugs and backing plates

-Applied with high gloss finishing; tuning wrench included

Intermediate Bongos:

ImageTycoon Concerto Series Red Finish Bongos

-Constructed of hand selected environmentally-friendly Siam Oak Wood

-7” & 8.5” drums with premium quality water buffalo skin heads

-Chrome plated deluxe hoops, reinforced side plates, 5/16” diameter tuning lugs and backing plates

-Super high gloss finishing; tuning wrench included

Professional Bongos

Image Tycoon Bongos-Signature Heritage Series

-Constructed of hand selected environmentally-friendly Siam Oak Wood

-7” & 8.5” drums with premium quality water buffalo skin heads

-Brushed chrome plated traditional hoops, reinforced side plates, 5/16” diameter tuning lugs and backing plates

-Rich, dark brown hand rubbed finish; tuning wrench included

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