Percussion instrument recommendations.
June 22, 2007 9:02 AM   Subscribe

I'm interested in buying some cool, portable, percussion instruments over the next few months. I'd be willing to spend up to $200 per piece, and I'd like them to be beginner friendly. What should I start with? Are there any instruments I should avoid because they break too easy, etc?

also, where is the best place to buy this sortof stuff? I'm especially interested and inspired by Afro-Caribbean & African use of percussion. Is there any place where you can buy these where some of the money actually goes to developing countries from these areas?
posted by yeahyeahyeahwhoo to Media & Arts (17 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Steelpans are right up your alley.
posted by paulsc at 9:07 AM on June 22, 2007

Well, something like a snare drum is pretty portable, can be easily had for less than $200, and will give you all kinds of good drumming skills if you learn how to play it.

But if you're interested in "percussion" rather than just drums, a place like Guitar Center will have all kinds of things made by a company called Latin Percussion, which is a great brand.
posted by DMan at 9:12 AM on June 22, 2007

Try here
posted by edgeways at 9:52 AM on June 22, 2007

page through this list
posted by edgeways at 9:54 AM on June 22, 2007

posted by hortense at 9:57 AM on June 22, 2007

this looks a little hippy dippy, but might lead to to other places.
This will give you a good list of percussion names to search for.
Last one
posted by edgeways at 10:01 AM on June 22, 2007

you can get ALOT of simple, great percussion instruments for less than $200 each. a short list: tamborine, reco-reco (scraper), agogo, cowbell, dumbek, djembe, congo, bongo, berimbau, whistle
posted by gnutron at 10:03 AM on June 22, 2007

look up the company remo. they make drums from all sorts of different cultures/styles of music, and while they aren't necessarily top of the line, they're generally very good quality (definitely good value for the price) and durable (at least compared to some of what you might get if you don't know anything about shopping for drums). i have several different styles of remo drums and i love them all. their kids line deserves special mention i think, because they are even cheaper and, well, they are real drums. so if you're not sure what you want, it's an extremely affordable way to try out several different options if you're not afraid of animal print decoration.
posted by lgyre at 11:01 AM on June 22, 2007

I'd highly recommend a set of Latin Percussion bongos.
posted by phrontist at 11:10 AM on June 22, 2007

As a doumbek player, I naturally reccommend the doumbek. It's small, durable, and pleasant sounding. Since the head of the doumbek is typically very tight and thin, you will typically play it with your fingertips, which is a whole lot of fun.
posted by Afroblanco at 11:55 AM on June 22, 2007

I asked a similar question, and AskMe's own belladonna responded thusly: "My husband & I make drums. You could get a nice ashiko for around $200."

Personally, I'm partial to doumbeks. They have a very broad tonal range so they're appropriate to a broader range of music (in my opinion) than a lot of other percussion instruments. They're also usually made to take some serious abuse. The cheaper ones are made out of thin pressed aluminum, but the ones in the price range you're looking at can be found in cast aluminum (damned near indestructible), wood, or ceramic.
posted by lekvar at 12:41 PM on June 22, 2007

cabasa, triangle, maracas, cuica, guiro, claves
posted by wsg at 12:54 PM on June 22, 2007

Lark in the Morning has plenty of weird stuff.
posted by buriednexttoyou at 1:18 PM on June 22, 2007

eShopAfrica is a fair trade organization, and they have an assortment of both drums and other percussion instruments.
posted by FuzzyVerde at 1:38 PM on June 22, 2007

Call me a geek, but have you considered digital / electric drums? Or if you prefer traditional, reading up about it and hand-crafting your own?
posted by -harlequin- at 10:05 PM on June 22, 2007

Mbira, definitely (a.k.a. thumb piano, kalimba, thumb drum). Sturdy, small, really beautiful sound, no learning curve.

Fair-trade African version, made in Zimbabwe.

Best Americanized version, handmade in the Ozarks from cedar. Its smaller sibling is even cheaper (also a great sound but not as loud).
posted by allterrainbrain at 2:27 AM on June 23, 2007

Also be sure to check out the extensive selection of drums and other hand percussion at

Try viewing each category listed from lowest to highest price.

In general, nulime has excellent prices and, more importantly, a $6 flat rate on musical instrument shipping. That's $6 TOTAL to ship as many instruments as you care to buy.
posted by allterrainbrain at 2:54 AM on June 25, 2007

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