Interesting Percussion Instruments

August 27, 2020

Adding Some Flavor to Your #180Seat

We all love expanding and adding new toys to our #180seat. Let’s take a look at some interesting percussion instruments from around the world that can add some unique flavor to your playing. You can use a lot of these instruments in live situations with your kit or simply as tools in practice, allowing you to expand on rhythmic ideas you can then take to the kit at a later time.

Congas

Pic from percussionconga.com

Congas are often seen in percussion trap kits and a good instrument to have in your arsenal (when you know how to use them). Congas consist of three drums: Quinto, which serves as your primary “lead” Drum. It’s also the highest in pitch. The next, being both centered physically and the middle pitch, is the Tres Dos or Tres Golpes.

Lastly is the Tumba or Salidor, the lowest pitched drum. Congas originate from Cuba and even more specifically, from Afro Cuban music. The Conga and Rumba are their signature patterns. Having a set can definitely add some flair to a song alongside your drum kit.

They could even serve as your main source of beat keeping at an acoustic gig. These remain a staple in Latin music and have even been adopted by churches. It’s good to familiarize yourself with different hand drums to expand your drumming vocabulary and rhythms!

Maracas

Used commonly in Latin music, maracas are a great and fun instrument to play with. Not to be mistaken for your typical North American Shaker (featured below), maracas have a very sharp and loud percussive sound that distinguish them entirely.

You can learn a lot about Latin groove and feel by just listening to the maracas. By actually adopting the maracas into your playing, it would greatly help you develop your feel and comprehension of Latin rhythms on the drum set. If you were intending to mimic maraca parts on the drum set, this would best by done by playing the hi-hat.

Tambourine

Pic by assets.fender.com

The tambourine is a hand instrument that is probably the most common across cultures and styles of music. Tambourine’s are great, simple additions to any drum set. Their multi-function as a hand percussion item, or as a mounted part of your drum set can add immediate vibe and funky-ness to whatever you’re playing.

Stanley Randolph made these grooves twice as funky by putting a tambourine on the hi hats

AJP Kickbourine

Pic by ajpdrums.com

AJP Snarebourine

Pic by ajpdrums.com

Bongos

Classic, affordable and appropriately sized percussion is available in the bongos. These are your safest alternative to the Congos if you were only hoping to add one sound.

Not only are they easier to transport than congos, but they will be a quick set up around your kit, keeping tear down to a minimum and offering you a unique and compact latin / Caribbean sound when you need it.

If you still want Congos, you’re in luck because the bongos are traditionally paired with the congos in Afro Cuban music. Bongos are small open bottom drums that have what the spanish call a female (Hembra) and male (Macho) drums. The female drummer is the smaller, higher pitched drum and the male is the bigger, lower pitched drum. They are considered the most popular Cuban Hand drums.

We recommend you get a pair to practice your hand technique at the very least.

Shakers

All shapes, sizes and materials have housed the wide array of beads or various loose objects that rattle around to create the sound signature to that of a shaker. Rain Sticks (as pictured below) are one of the earliest incarnations of the shaker. These are often found in novelty shops and double as a therapeutic device.

Pic by wikimedia.org
Pic by wikimedia.org

As for Various sizes and shapes. Here are just a few of the possibilities pictured below. Take a visit to the local music store and try out a few shakers and you will quickly realize how drastically different each shaker sounds from the next.

Having quiet, loud, metallic, wood, smooth and abrasive shaker sounds will come in handy at different times. A great collection of shakers is one of the finer things in life… I mean, in the world of only drummers and percussionists. ;)

Gong

percussion-latin-djembe-drums-180-drum-180drums-online-drum-lessons-learn-how-to-play-instruments-cymbals-snare-cajon-mexico-how-hand-1-Gong
Pic by thegongshop.com

I know this makes some of you think of an 80’s hair metal band with the 100-piece drum set, but a gong is an awesome asset to your drum kit. If you want a huge thrashy sound, then look no further. A gong can be a great way to incorporate in your kit if you are looking for a unique loud, rolling sound.

This can be great for huge dynamic build-ups or if you’re trying to mimic thunder. Either way, look for any excuse to add one of these bad boys on to your #180seat… We’re mostly kidding, but we had to add it in here. #gongshow

What’s one of your favorite percussion items?

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