Last updated: October 15, 2021

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We are happy to meet again in this new article that ReviewBox brings to you. We hope you are comfortable and ready to read an extensive review of the topic that we have prepared for you, because it's time to talk about drums, ready?

Even if we do not have a hint of musicians, drums are present in the lives of people. They are used in various events, music, rituals, dances, traditions and so on. It is an instrument that requires dexterity, coordination and independence to play. It is so important that it can even form a significant part of a culture.

If you are thinking of playing a drum, and you still don't know which one or if you are evaluating your next purchase, here we will give you an overview of the types of drums there are, their advantages, disadvantages, prices, and everything important so that you can make your decision.




Summary

  • A drum is a percussion instrument, a membranophone, which to produce its sound, needs to be percussed or beaten in rhythm through its membranes or drumheads, which are found on one or both sides of the drum.
  • There are many types of drums. The most specific classifications are: drum drums, hand drums, African drums and marching band drums, although they are not the only ones. Each classification has several types, which we will see below.
  • It is difficult to cover so many options, but we will look at some of the most common in each category: Drums (toms, bass drums, tarola), hand drums (congas, bongos, tablas), frame drums (tambourines, bodhran and riq), African drums (talking drum, djembe, udu), marching drums (marching snare, multi-tenor, bass drum)

The best Drum: Our Picks

Buying Guide: What you need to know about the drum

This classification of drums is so broad that to play one, it is best that you know them thoroughly, so you can be fully aware of what you want and go straight to buy it.

In the following guide, we will explain what drums are, their advantages, disadvantages and any additional information you may need.

Musician playing tablas, a popular Indian instrument. (Photo: Nila Newsom / 123rf.com)

What are drums?

Drums are percussion instruments, membranophones, which means that they have membranes or drumheads that when struck by hand, with a stick or mallet, produce indeterminate sounds and rhythms, i.e. there is no constant or defined sound.

Most of them consist of a resonance box, usually cylindrical, with a drumhead on one or both sides, which when hit or shaken produce vibrations that in turn produce different types of sounds.

Did you know? Drums are part of the history and culture of many places, they are a talking instrument with voice and replica. In Mexico they have been used since ancient times where the Aztecs used them for rituals and ceremonies

What are their advantages?

Drums are not only a musical expression but also the voice of the drummer. They coexist with different cultures either for musical entertainment, or for other types of activities such as football events, traditional dances, entertainment shows, protest marches, school or military marches, rituals, etc.

Advantages
  • Drumming de-stresses
  • There are many options
  • Helps the immune system
  • Helps intellectual development
  • Improves coordination
Disadvantages
  • They require a lot of coordination
  • They are often expensive
  • They require a good teaching method
  • Learning takes time

Drums, hand drums, frame drums or African drums

What should you pay attention to?

Drums have been developing in the world for years and years, there are many options that have been around for thousands of years and they never go out of fashion. By type of drum or by geographical area we can find old and new proposals.

Depending on what genre and how we want to play, some of the variants that should be taken into account for the selection of the drum that we should buy. But of course and primarily we need to develop that feeling and coordination that is required.

Here we will look at some of the most popular categories.

DrumT' s. In acoustic or electronic versions, there are five of them: the snare drum, the bass drum, the floor tom, and the 2 air toms. Each with standard sizes that may vary according to the brand and series. These instruments together with the cymbals serve as a musical base within a sound ensemble that with rhythm and speed produce songs.

T. de mano. These are drums that are played using the hand and its parts, i.e. the palms, fingers or thumbs, and also with mallets or mallets. They come in various sizes and origins. Each drum has a distinctive playing pattern and playing technique.

T. de banco. With a high-pitched sound, they are another kind of drums, but with smaller dimensions as their drumhead (synthetic or skin) is larger than their depth. It is surrounded by wooden hoops and hollow at the bottom. It may include rattles. There are models that can be tuned with keys.

T. Afriacanos. Where the drum represents more than a simple instrument, they are part of their culture, as they communicate through the drum. Many of the drums we know today originate from Africa and are played with poly-rhythmic sounds, they are played together in dances with a variety of rhythms and counter-rhythms.

T. de marcha. Although they are similar to drums, they are mostly of different sizes and configurations. Marching drums are used in student or military ensembles marching or parading for their own purposes.

Drum Drum Hand Drum Frame Drum African Drum Marching Drum
Drums Tarola, Floor Tom, Air Toms, Bass Drum Bongos, Congas, Indian drums, Tarahumaras Tambourines, Bodhran Djembe, Udu, Parlante Marching Snare, Multi-tenor, Bass
To play Drumsticks, brushes Hand or mallets Hands, against the body Hands or mallets Mallets or drumsticks
Patches Polyester, nylon and Mylar Leather or synthetics Leather or synthetics Leather Polyester, nylon and Mylar
Uses Parties, concerts, public events Concerts, parties, carnivals Dances, worship, meditation, events Parties and public dances Parades, marches

What are the drums of a drum set?

In the following lines we will know a little more in depth the drums that compose a drum set, these 5 elements are the basic ones to be able to play, there are even those who decide to play only with 4 drums, suppressing an air tom, just as some professional musicians choose to add drums to their set.

Tarola or Snare. This membranophone instrument is one of the main drums of the acoustic drum kit. It is a percussion snare drum with double membranes, one on the top and one on the bottom. It has metal snares on the bottom drumhead, which help to enhance its sound and make it more aggressive.

Floor Tom. It is also part of the drum set and has one of the deepest sounds of the whole set, its most common sizes are 14x14 or 16x16 inches. It is manufactured with 3 telescopic legs that allow it to be placed at the desired height.

Air Toms. Also known as Roto-Toms. These are the drums that are placed on top of the Bombo. They come in different sizes. They are used to play and create different musical rhythms in conjunction with the other elements of the drum kit. Like the other drums, they have two heads, although you can place only one if you like.

Bombo. This is the largest drum in the drum kit and serves as a base for playing smooth or fast rhythms depending on the genre of music the drummer wishes to play. It is played with a single or double pedal.

What are the hand drums?

Hand drums carry an important cultural load, part of their historical legacy includes belonging to marginalised classes or being the communication link of an ethnic group.

Except for the tablas, they are drums that have expanded socially and today give us Latin rhythms that invite anyone to dance, among them are:

Congas. Of Cuban origin, these are tall barrel-shaped drums with skin membranes or drumheads. They are usually in sets of two, one with a smaller diameter than the other. They are used in Latin rhythms as the sound they produce is associated with tropical sounds.

Bongos. These are small Afro-Cuban drums that are joined together. They come in 2 sizes, where one called macho is bigger than the other called hembra. Where there are Congas there are usually also bongos. They are also used in Latin rhythms.

Tablas. These are drums of Indian origin, played with the palms of the hands and the tips of the fingers. There are two of them, one made of metal called dagga (the big one) and the other one made of wood called tabla (the small one). In the centre is a circle made of sandalwood.

What are Marco drums?

Many places on the map of the different continents have their own version of this kind of drum with some variations. They are smaller than other types of drums, but their sound is equally virtuosic and it is fascinating what can be achieved by playing them, some of them are:

Tambourine. It belongs to several geographical areas where it is used with small variations, for example the Pandeiro is very similar but it is from Brazil. The tambourine is surrounded by wood and has perforations where small tambourines or micro cymbals are placed, which when struck or shaken generate a sound.

Bodhran. Drum with an Irish or Celtic frame that is played with the palms of the hand or with beaters or mallets. Its diameter ranges from 25 to 69 centimetres and its depth is 10 centimetres. Its membrane is usually made of goatskin, although it can be made from the skins of other animals.

Riq. This is an oriental instrument similar to the tambourine. It is configured with a frame made of wood and fish or goatskin. It is played by shaking it with the head, or by playing it vertically or horizontally.

What are African drums?

Just knowing that they come from Africa gives us the idea of rhythms rich in movement, ceremonies charged with energy, sonorous acts that integrate a community and that have now been adapted to different styles and events in other countries. Among the best known are:

Talking drum. A beautiful hourglass-shaped drum with a strap to hang over the shoulder and is played with a curved beater under the arm. It has earned its name because the player has the ability to imitate the sound of the tongue when speaking. It was invented in Nigeria.

Djembe. It is a cup-shaped drum made of hard wood, its drumhead is made of goatskin. They are known as healing or meeting drums. It is a small drum but with great musical power that is used in diverse sounds.

Udu. It is a drum with different qualities to the traditional ones as they are made of Nigerian clay, in their design they can have one or two chambers and to play it they are hit with the hand or fingers on the surface or body of the instrument.

Which are the Marching drums?

The least popular in Mexico, but they have great use in other countries, for example in the United States where almost every university has its own band and annually they are presented in football games or in inter-school band competitions, they are also used in military parades or in batucadas. The most common:

Marching Snare. It is a drum that is deeper in size than the one used in drums and is manufactured with very high voltages generated by an attachment called a snare which in turn produces high-pitched sounds. It is made of Kevlar.

Multi-tenor. It consists of a set of several drums of different sizes. It can go from 4 to 6 drums depending on the configuration. They are high-pitched and are played with drumsticks or mallets. The smaller drums are called spurs or shots.

Bass drum. This is practically the bass drum of the drum kit, a large drum with a low or grabe sound that provides the basis for the melodies. To be able to play it, especially if the band is walking, they carry it with straps or special attachments on their shoulders.

Purchasing criteria

As we have already mentioned on several occasions, there is a wide range of options in this kind of instruments, but in order for you to go and make your purchase with confidence, we recommend that you take into account these general recommendations.

Music Genre

If you are still not sure which drum is the most suitable, it would be appropriate to focus on what you want to play, the musical genre will help you a lot to determine the direction you could take, for example, a drum set gives you ample possibilities to play almost any genre from ballads to the most obscure rock, reggae, salsa, etc.

If you like more indigenous sounds, then you should approach any of the other options, for reggae, salsa or cumbia, capoeira music, panderos, bongos, congas or djembe work for you, but if you want to experiment in deeper and less commercial rhythms, then approach other options.

Size

Size does matter, because depending on what instrument you buy will be the space it takes up in your house, in your car, in your life. Keep in mind that if you go for tambourines, bongos or tablas they don't take up as much space, they are easily transportable and easier to store.

A medium sized instrument like the djembe or congas take up more space but not like the drums, which require something larger, at least a meter by a meter or a meter and a half (depending on how wide it is), not only to place it, but also to play it because you need a certain range of movement.

In some cases the size also influences the tone and volume produced by the drum, such is the case of the talking drum that measures 13 centimetres in length and 7 centimetres in diameter, reaching higher tones that even two performers at a distance of 32 km from each other can sustain a tonal conversation.

Materials

The instruments are mostly made of wood, the variety of options are part of their quality, strength and resonance. Some variants are oak, mahogany, birch, beech, but there are many more, but there are also metal ones as is the case with one of the drums on the tablas.

The material of the instrument's snare in conjunction with its drumhead or membrane will generate a sound that ranges from high to low, from soft to loud, from resonant to dry. The drumheads can be synthetic or made from the skin of different kinds of animals such as goats or cows.

(Featured image source: Paulbr75/ Pixabay.com)

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