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Bongo Drum Buying Guide

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It's important to determine the type of sound you're looking for before making a selection. After reading the information below, you will be able to make a clear and confident decision.

Bongo drums or bongos refer to the drum set made of two different sized drums that are attached to one another; the larger drum is known as an "hembra," which in Spanish translates to female, and the smaller drum is known as a "macho," which translates as male. The person who plays the bongo drums is known as the bongocero, also a Spanish word that is derived from bongos. Bongos are a percussion instrument, and they are typically made of a wooden body with an animal skin drum head in order to achieve the best sounds.


Today, you can find bongos made out of different types of materials, as well, such as metal with synthetic drum heads. Bongo drums are generally played by striking the drum's head with the bare palm and/or fingers to produce the typical high-pitched sound. Contemporary players sometimes use drum sticks and/or brushes to play the bongos. Traditionally, the player places the bongos between the knees to play, but today, one can also have them mounted on a stand, if desired.

Siam oak is the material of choice used to make bongo drums, because it is durable and also elegant with a warm, sophisticated touch, while buffalo skin is the desired material for the drum head needed to produce the rich sounds of bass along with its usual high-pitched notes. No other material used for the drum head can produce that resonance and response. The overall appearance of the bongo drum head should be a clear polished finish that is only achieved through a number of gloss coatings which also work to strengthen the material, making it highly durable.

Typical bongo drum head sizes are 6"x 7" and 7"x 8" in order to obtain the classic sound made by the bongos. Bongos are used in the following types of music: salsa, merengue, Latin Jazz, mambo, reggae, rumba, electronic music, rap, funk, soul, guaracha, timba, and rock. Some famous bongo players are: Bongo Herman, Bongo Mat, Safri Duo, Count Ossie, and Charlie Dilone. The origin of the bongo drums goes back to the Atlantic slave trade to South America where it was born, hence its Spanish background. Its unique sounds, however, soon captured many musicians and it traveled around the world. Today, you will find high quality bongo drums anywhere in the world or through the Internet, if you know what specifications to look for in order to ensure the best quality sound and appearance.

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