After months of deliberation and decision making, you’ve finally come to the conclusion that you need a set of bongo drums. Whether you’re an aspiring Cuban percussionist or a multi-instrumentalist looking to expand your skill-set, the rhythms of the bongo are a unique and captivating sound.
Whatever your motivations, we are here to help you find the bongo drum best suited to your playing needs, skill level and budget.
However, with many different bongo drums to choose from, picking the right one can become a little overwhelming, especially for beginners. So, to remove some of that stress, we’ve done some of the hard work.
Below you’ll find a selection of 10 of the best bongo drums on the market. We’ve also included a handy buyer’s guide to further remove any confusion when selecting the best product for you.
OUR TOP PICK
The Toca Synergy is a low budget bongo model with a limited potential. At a super low price, this bongo is very much suited to those at a beginner level. However, with proper technique and playing, you could potentially get some larger life out of it.
The product can come in a few different colors, has heads made of rawhide, and a body of plywood. In terms of sizing, the smaller drumhead is 6” and the larger one 6 ¾“.
Despite its simplicity, the drum has received plenty of reviews from satisfied and happy customers.
- Price - extremely well-priced product, affordable for those working to a tight budget.
- Appearance - this bongo model has a sleek and colorful design.
- Quality - better suited for children and beginners than adults as tuning may not hold due to the cheaper hardware.
Whether you’re expanding your percussion set up, playing casual jam sessions or adding bongos to your drum kit, the Headliner series bongos fit into virtually any style in any musical setting.
The product has rubberwood decorated in a sunburst fashion and comes with buffalo drumheads sized 6.75” and 8”. Precise proportions also allow the drums to compliment one another with different pitches.
- Rounded rims - sit lower than traditional bongo rims and feature a rounded edge for added comfort and control.
- Style - the two individual drums are attached with a solid wood block connection, a style used by top recording and touring artists.
- Reputation - the Headliner series can be found on many Best Bongo lists.
- Affordable - this product is a fantastic mid-budget high-quality option for buyers.
- Resonance - rubberwood has a distinct resonance so may not be suited to you.
The Remo Rhythm Club bongos are the lowest budget model on the list. In fact, if it wasn’t for the thousands of positive reviews, they probably wouldn’t have made it!
It is significantly smaller than other bongo drums at 5” and 6” for each head. The drum is mostly sold as a kids bongo drum, however there is no denying that Remo are a well-known, respected manufacturer in the industry.
- Portability - the product is small and lightweight so therefore ideal for taking camping or on other outdoor events.
- Price - one of the lowest priced, but real bongo drums on the market.
- Design - colorful and inclusive design gives the product character.
- Limited - only suitable for kids and beginners.
- Quality - small heads result in less resonance produced.
Pearl has a rich tradition in producing the best quality drums and percussion, and this bongo is no exception. The drums are sized 7” and 9” and made of Thai oak and natural buffalo hides.
This Pearl Elite model is stunning on the eye and has a beautiful warm sound, with the larger than normal hembra drum adding extra bass to the tone. We highly recommend this bongo set to anyone that has the budget!
- Quality - this product is ideal for experienced players and professionals.
- Features - with an included wrench, the Pearl Elite Series bongos are easy and quick to tune.
- Expensive - for many players the price will be way beyond their budget.
Another low budget option is the GP Percussion B2. These bongos have shells made of hickory and heads made of natural rawhide.
In terms of sizing, the smallest head is 6” and the larger one 7”. As a low budget bongo model, they are a tiny bit larger than others in a similar price range.
However, this model is another one which lacks true sound quality. A decent budget option, but not one you’ll be writing home about.
- Popular seller - the product is often sold out so clearly a lot of people choose to buy it.
- Portability - for camping trips and other outdoor events, these bongos are a good option.
- Quality - the product’s basic materials won’t produce the best sound. This is reflected by the bongos having a few more bad ratings than other budget models.
The LP Galaxy is a high-end model that has hardware in both gold and chrome. Not a bad start, right? The macho head size is 7.25” and the hembra head size 8.625”.
Unsurprisingly, like most high-end models, they have a lot of work put into them. The bongos are crafted with kiln-dried wood and natural rawhide drumheads, so if you are looking for a particularly fancy and high-quality set of bongos, these will be a perfect choice.
- Sound quality - excellent quality resonance and overall sound.
- Flashy - if you’re in the market for a flashy model to represent your personality, these bongos are ideal for that.
- Reputation - the LP Galaxy is sponsored by famous percussionist Giovanni Hidalgo.
- Value - for the high price, perhaps a slightly larger head size would be expected.
This model is a great starter instrument for beginners while also providing good quality sound.
The EBO-21 is sized 6¾” and 8”, with hand-selected buffalo skin head. The natural drum head produced a warm tone and melodious sound.
This bongo set is also made from high-quality hardwood, providing higher resonance, richer sound and impressive durability.
- Suitability - ideal for beginners and inexperienced players but can also be used by intermediate players.
- Round rim - even for the heaviest hitter there should be no obvious discomfort.
- Limited - difficult to produce any sophisticated or advanced sound on this set of bongos.
The LP Aspire is a solid all-rounder available at a reasonable price. The model’s smaller macho head is sized 6.75” while the larger hembra head is 8”. It is made with real rawhide and siam oak sides.
It is well presented with a slick finish, therefore ideal for players who care a little about aesthetics.
- Material - siam oak is used in a number of Latin percussion instruments, so therefore reliable.
- Sound quality - with well sized heads, resonance will be high.
- Features - with a wrench included, these bongos are quick and easy to tune.
- Style - while the style is unique and interesting, it may not be suitable or to everyone’s liking.
- Value - drumheads could be larger for the price the bongos are selling for.
These bongos are a set of classic drums that are extremely sturdy and durable. Sized at 6.5” and 7.5”, these hand-crafted wooden shell bongos deliver a clear acoustical percussion sound.
The drum head is a pure natural ‘true skin’ animal hide, and the model features tuneable heads with chrome-plated hardware and a tuning key wrench.
- Safe - this bongo set has no sharp edges so particularly good for children. Round rim also allows you to play the model in any position you like.
- Durable - solid materials increase the sturdiness and longevity of the product.
- Quality - several customer reviews have reported the bongos being low in quality upon arrival.
In the intermediate price range, these bongos are right up there with the very best. They are made of siam oak and have traditional drumheads sized at 7.25” and 8.625”.
Like some of the lower priced models on this list, the LP Matador comes with a tuning wrench and adjustable heads. In this case, with chrome hardware.
- Size - larger drumhead size than other bongo models at a similar price.
- Material - the siam oak shells provide your bongos with added protection as well as good resonance.
- Style - the style of the LP Matador is unique, and at this price, you need to be sure you like the style.
Best Bongo Drums Buying Guide
When it comes to finding the best and most suitable bongos, there are a few things you need to consider to ensure you get the best model for your individual needs.
Below we’ll take a look through some of the most important areas to focus on when picking your ideal drum set.
Giving a little extra thought to these will help steer you towards the perfect option and save you both time and effort in the long run.
The shell of bongos can be made out of two materials: wood or fibreglass. If you’re looking for the original instrument, this will be made from wood.
It provides a warm and deep sound, enhanced further when paired with a rawhide head. Any hardwood like oak will do, although most good and high-end models are made from siam oak. It’s worth nothing that we recommend staying away from softwoods as they’re unable to project as much sound.
Fibreglass material offers bright and resonant sound, perfect for live performances and when played with amplified instruments. They are lighter than wood bongos and also tougher due to not being weather sensitive.
There are three main options of hardware for bongos: no-rim, single-rim and regular (dual-rim). No-rim bongos are extremely basic, impossible to tune and completely impractical so only really an option for kids.
Single-rim bongos aren’t much better providing very limited durability and playability. Dual-rim bongos are by far the best, joined together by tuning lugs which guarantee a fully tunable instrument.
Bongos heads are made out of two materials: rawhide (made from animal hides) or synthetic material (made out of various plastic derivatives).
Rawhide heads offer an overall warmer and wider tone but are less stable with their tuning; sudden weather changes or extreme humidity will affect tuning.
On the other hand, synthetic heads are more durable, require less maintenance and allow the opportunity to create a unique high end hit sound on the rim. Most professional musicians will use synthetic drumheads.
Typical bongo drumhead sizes are 6” and 7” or 7” and 8” in order to obtain the classic sound made by the bongos.
The higher-end, more expensive bongos tend to have larger drumheads which provide greater flexibility with your playing. Size doesn’t mean everything though as there are some handy models on the market that aren’t the biggest.
Best Bongo Drums - FAQ's
What should bongos be tuned to?
To maximise the potential of your bongos this is incredibly important. When tuning your bongo, you should tune the hembra (larger drum) and macho (smaller drum) an octave apart.
The macho should be tuned at B through D, or about 2 octaves above middle C, while the hembra should be tuned at A octave, or again, 2 octaves above middle C.
What is the difference between conga and bongo drums?
Many of you will know that congas and bongos are both played with the fingers and palms. Despite this, the resulting sounds differ.
Congas produce a deep bass sound, unless they are slapped, creating a flat, crisp beat, while bongas create a high-pitched percussive sound.
How long does it take to learn bongos?
This really depends on your prior experience and musical ability. Without prior percussion experience, learning to play bongos to traditional Afro-Cuban music may take a few months of daily practice.
However, with some experience, this could be narrowed down to a couple of weeks.