Hand drums…..many of us enjoy playing them, and many of us use them with our clients. We are commonly exposed to particular brands of hand drums; conferences, catalogs, and sponsored trainings often provide us with a chance to check out the latest products from companies such as Remo, and Toca, and Latin Percussion. And of course, what a fantastic opportunity to try them out!
The list of hand-drum brands I own is quite extensive. It includes all of the above names, and many more. It also includes instruments made solely by artisans. I use different drums for different purposes, and I am glad to have such variety to work with. In this spirit, I felt it may be helpful to discuss some of the hand drum companies that we may not hear of as often. Some of these companies create high-end, boutique instruments as a part of their business. Some companies focus on quality sounding instruments at a competitive price. In this list, we will see a little bit of both, five companies that aren’t as visible….. Additions are more than welcome in the comments section, and I believe this thread will continue in future blog posts, taking into account different instruments and different instrumental needs.
1. Wula Drums : Michael Markus, renowned djembe player and teacher, is a co-owner of Wula. The drums are made of the finest selected woods of Guinea, and hand-carved by some of the foremost carvers in Guinea as well. When one considers the cost of an artisan guitar, these finely crafted pieces tend to look less expensive in comparison. They also carry the rest of the Guinean drum ensemble instrumentation, and other high-quality items. For those looking to spend a little less money, the Melina wood djembes maintain a very nice sound for the price.
2. Drumskull Drums: In terms of quality traditional instruments, both Wula and Drumskull are the most highly respected companies. Drumskull offers a selection of djembes from Guinea, Mali, the Ivory Coast, and Senegal; each drum is created in its own region, with the physical and sound characteristics common to that region, as demonstrated to the highest level of quality. Drumskull also carries other styles of hand drums, such as ngoma, ashiko, bugarabu, and hand-carved congas, not to mention the rest of their expansive quality inventory.
3. Dancing Drum: In terms of combining recreational drumming accessibility with the qualities of traditional construction (wood, skin heads), Dancing Drum has put together solid instrumentation at a reasonable price. I had the opportunity to try out their dunun set and djembe the first year they showcased them at PASIC. I was impressed with the sound they produced. West Music carries their instruments.
4. Kangaba Drums: Instruments from Mali. Some Kangaba drums are sold through Guitar Center and other stores.
5. Timba Percussion: A boutique conga company that has long flown under the radar.