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6 Best Bongos for Beginners – Reviewed 2022

Bongos have been around for centuries and have been used in many types of music. They are most commonly associated with Latin music, but they have also been used in other genres like jazz and rock.

If you are in the market for a new pair of bongo drums, this guide shows you the best picks on the market for pros and beginners. 

I’m a huge fan of bongos and other traditional styles of drums, I’ve tried out many different types in my time, so you can be assured that all of the models listed on this page are of great quality for the price. 

What is a bongo drum?

Best Bongo Drums

The word “bongo” comes from the Bantu language’s word “Mbenga”. The drums were originally made out of hollowed-out tree trunks or gourds with animal skins stretched over them to provide the drum head. These days, bongos can be found made out of metal, plastic, or wood with synthetic skins to provide the drum head.

Bongos are a percussion instrument, which is played in pairs. They’re usually made from wood and animal skin, but in some cases, they can be made of metal or plastic. The bongo is the most popular instrument in Latin American music, especially in salsa and merengue.

Keep reading for our full lineup of the best bongo drums.

Or check out our related posts. 

Table of Contents

6 Best Bongo Drum for Beginners – Tried and Tested

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Meinl drums have been around for a long-time, and these bongo drums are not an exception. The Journey Series has been designed to sound as good as it is beautiful, made with hand-selected synthetic abs plastic. You can depend on Meinl to always provide high-quality and affordable drums, perfect for any player or style.

You’ve been looking for a pair of bongos that are lightweight, durable, and versatile to go with your drum kit. You want to experiment with different songs and styles, but you also want to be able to use these bongos for your jam sessions with friends. The Meinl Journey Series bongos are the perfect solution.

The Journey Series bongos from Meinl are the perfect way to make a statement on stage. These drums are made with synthetic shells with a black finish, which is perfect for those who want to make their drum stand out. The drums also have durable plastic hardware for travel and are great for outdoor use.

The Meinl Plastic Bongo drum set is the perfect instrument for drummers who want to add new life and variety to their sound. The hand-selected buffalo skin heads offer a full, dynamic sound with sharp highs and an outstanding feel. These sound better than other bongos that use synthetic heads. 

The Meinl Plastic percussion Bongo drum is one of the finest beginner instruments on the market. Classically constructed, these plastic bongos are available in a variety of colors and feature a deep, rugged sound. With even greater durability than most plastic bongos, these hip bongo drums offer a long-lasting, durable sound that is perfect for any occasion.

Key Specs

  • Drum Material – Synthetic 
  • Skin Material – Natural Buffalo Skin

Pros and Cons

  • Affordable
  • Easy to tune with tuning lugs
  • Pre-tuned heads
  • Dynamic tuning range
  • Strong synthetic material
  • Mediocre sound quality

Summary

Meinl Bongos are the perfect instruments for any percussionist or bongo player. Meinl Plastic Bongos are an affordable, durable option with a guaranteed uncompromising sound. A rounder rim design makes these band bongos more comfortable to play and easier to get a great sound. These also make a great kids’ bongo drum.  

This particular model is best suited for beginner and intermediate bongo players. They have a limited range of performance compared to the more premium models in the Meinl bongo range.

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Built for any setting — whether you’re expanding your percussion set up, adding a professional bongo drum set to your drum kit, playing casual jam sessions or stripped-down acoustic music, the Meinl Headliner Series bongos fit into virtually any style in any musical setting.

Beautifully crafted, these Meinl percussion bongos have been finely tuned & made with the musician in mind. Available in vintage sunburst finish with gloss, these drums are made from solid rubberwood staves and assembled for a consistent sound. The precise proportion of the drums allows for the set to complement each other with separate pitches. The skin is an optimized 6-ply mixture of natural and synthetic rubber to create a bright, full sound

Come feel the difference of Meinl’s Traditional Series bongos! These premium bongos are hand-selected and fitted with natural buffalo skin heads to give you a classic, deep sound that is dynamic, warm, and with sharp highs. The heads measure 6 ¾” and 8”, respectively.

You can’t play percussion instruments unless you have the right bongo! In this case, Meinl Rubberwood band Bongos. These beautifully designed instruments feature a black powder-coated rounded rim for a more convenient and comfortable playing experience. 

Key Specs

  • Drum Material – Rubberwood
  • Skin Material – Natural Rawhide Heads

Pros and Cons

  • Warm resonant tone
  • Attractive appearance
  • Sturdy wood shells
  • Mediocre quality 

Summary

You love music, drums, and percussion. You know how to play the bongos. But you’re looking for something different. Something you can’t find in any store. You want a bongo that sounds great and looks cool too. This is a bongo that doesn’t sound like other bongo drums made from plastic or metal but sounds alive like it has a soul.

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The Meinl Marathon Series are some of the best-selling bongos, offering a rich, booming sound with high volume levels. These drums are ideal for acoustic music and professional drummers alike. They come in a range of sizes to suit any player’s needs — from beginners to professionals. The drums are meticulously tuned and handcrafted with the highest quality materials available.

The bongo is a drum that has been a part of Afro-Cuban music. This set of Meinl Burl Bongos is made of high-quality rubberwood and is assembled with solid rubberwood staves, which create a consistent sound. With an eye for every detail, these drums are precision-crafted for their sound quality.

It might be hard to get a good sound from a bad instrument, but we’ve got just what you need. With the perfect combination of hand-selected buffalo skin heads, the response you get is full of dynamic warmth and depth along with sharp highs and an outstanding feel. No need for anything else — these heads measure 6 ¾” and 8”.

The Meinl Burl Bongo delivers a sweet, punchy sound perfect for Latin, African, and Caribbean music. These drums are an excellent choice for drummers looking for a tuneable bongo set at an incredibly affordable price.

Key Specs

  • Drum Material – Rubberwood shells
  • Skin Material – Natural Buffalo Skin

Pros and Cons

  • Useable dynamic sound
  • High-quality wood construction
  • Bright resonant tone
  • Great price for quality
  • Occasional issues with tuning system
  • Nickel-plated rim

Summary

Ideal for drummers, percussionists, and all other music makers! The new Meinl bongo series has something for everyone. It features a patented, innovative suspension design and a sound that is unrivaled yet easy to use for any level of the percussionist.

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The Matador Bongo is the real deal. Handmade in the Dominican Republic with traditional techniques, 20-inch siam oak wood shells, and hand-painted with a Puerto Rican Flag design, these bongos are perfect for playing traditional Latin music. These are great for music enthusiasts as well as beginners and sound much better than most bongos.

Explore the world of traditional Cuban bongo drums with Matador Heritage Bongos. Each drum produces a deep, resonant voice, yet is also responsive and versatile. This is the sound of Afro-Cuban music!

Matador’s Heritage Bongos are the most durable and trusted brand for generations of drummers. Get the best in bongo drums with a classic design from Matador’s Heritage series. You’ll feel the difference in the sound, feel, and durability of these professional-grade instruments – guaranteed.

Play bongos in style with LP’s Puerto Rican Heritage Matador Wood Bongos. These traditional bongos are the ideal choice for anyone looking for traditional styling and professional quality at an affordable price. We also love the look of the chrome hardware and raised shell design offered in these Latin percussion instruments.

Key Specs

  • Drum Material – Siam Oak
  • Skin Material – Rawhide

Pros and Cons

  • Cool Cuban Appearance
  • Dynamic warm and full tone
  • Authentic style
  • Four tunable lugs
  • Too expensive for many players

Summary

Bongos are the most important part of every Latin band and they need to be played with pride. These LP Puerto Rican Heritage Matador Bongos are the perfect choice for musicians, who want to play with traditional styling and professional-level quality, to have the most authentic sound.

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The LP Matador Wood Bongos are a percussion instrument set made from durable, environmentally-friendly Siam Oak shells. Boasting a rich, resonant tone, these instruments produce a pleasing sound and tone.

This Latin Percussion Bongo is a high-quality, affordable option for those who are looking for a premium drum set that is easy to carry and assemble. These drums are suitable from beginners to pros and come in a natural finish.

Low profile, lightweight, and simple. LP’s Matador Wood Bongos are the perfect starter set for the beginning percussionist. With a simple, yet solid design, these bongos produce a great, warm sound with excellent projection. Whether you’re looking for something to accompany your salsa-inflected band or just to add a little Latin spice to your jazz ensemble, this is the instrument for you.

Key Specs

  • Drum Material – Siam Oak
  • Skin Material – Rawhide

Pros and Cons

  • Hand made quality
  • Dynamic playing range
  • High strength metal and wood construction
  • Pro-grade tone
  • Strong tuning lugs and tuning ring
  • Rubber Feet

Summary

If you’re looking for traditional bongo drums, but don’t want to pay an arm and a leg, LP Matador is your best bet. Using hand-selected wood, this bongo drum provides a rich tone that stands up to higher volume levels. Because these drums are manufactured in the US, LP can offer expert knowledge at an affordable price

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As a percussionist, you know the importance of good vibes. You’re always on the move, and you need instruments that can keep up with your tempo.

That’s why Meinl created the Free Ride Bongos — portable, lightweight, and ready to go. This bongo drum was designed for life on the road: Built with thicker rims and resonance shaping areas for an exquisite sound, these bongos are perfect for any touring or recording musician

You never realized how cool bongos could be. Now you can get your hands on Meinl’s Free Ride Bongos and find out. The Free Ride Bongos are made from high-quality materials so that you can make the most of each drum session. That’s more bang for your buck, literally.

Traditional skins are made from cowhide and can give your drums a dull sound, but Meinl Free Ride Bongos have a unique True Skin cow skin head that provides the tune with warmth and depth. The Meinl Free Ride Bongos are made with a 7″ and 8½” bongo head, giving your tune an outstanding feel.

The Meinl Free Ride Suspension System is a patented design that attaches to any set of bongos. This system improves resonance and is compatible with any bongo stand. Simply unscrew the drums, slip the mounts over the edges of your drum, and secure it with the tensioning screws.

Meinl’s Free Ride bongos are the perfect choice for a drum set for those who are just getting started in drumming. These bongos come with a tuning wrench for quick, on-the-spot adjustments to the tuning lugs or head changes.

Key Specs

  • Drum Material –  Hickory shells Burl Finish
  • Skin Material – True Skin Cow Hide

Pros and Cons

  • Best sounding bongo drum on this list
  • Wide dynamic range
  • Highly expressive
  • Top quality feel
  • Expensive

Summary

This is one of the nicest pairs of bongos on the Meinl line up. These are worthy of any stage and will feel at home in the hands of the most seasoned professionals. Bongos can take you to a new dimension. These bongos sound as good as they feel, which is uncompromisingly high quality all around. 

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Buying Guide: What should I look for when buying a bongo drum?

When choosing the best bongo drum, there are a few things to look out for. Aspiring musicians will need different features compared to professional musicians. 

Drum Material

Bongo drums come made from a range of materials. Traditionally they used wooden shells, a more modern set of bongo drums may be made from synthetics and plastics. 

The material affects the durability and tone of the bongo. 

Skin Material 

The material used in the drum heads also has a large effect on the tone. Each type of material has a distinct sound. Rawhide heads have a more traditional, rich sound, but synthetic have brighter resonating tones and last longer before breaking. 

Drum Sizes

Bongos come in a range of sizes too. This is really a matter of personal preference. A larger drum is capable of producing lower tones with ease. Most small bongos are between six and seven inches. As there are two drums in a bongo pair, the larger drums tend to be between 10 and 12 inches. 

Quality

There is a noticeable tradeoff between quality and price. A More expensive bongo drum results in a better sound, and feel better to play. A cheaper bongo drum is good for those on a budget, but often has a less dynamic sound with a narrower range of expression. Professionals will need to use higher quality musical instruments, and won’t worry about splashing out on the best bongos they can find. 

FAQs

Are bongos good?

Bongos are a popular percussion instrument used in Latin American music. They are played with the hands and can be made out of wood, metal, or plastic. Bongos are typically round and have a skin head at each end that is tuned to the desired pitch.

Bongos are excellent for playing music. They are a fun instrument to learn and always bring an exciting layer to any kind of music. 

Is it hard to play bongo drums?

Playing bongo drums is not as hard as it might seem. It is a very easy instrument to play, and it can be done with one hand. You don’t need to have any musical experience or know how to read music in order to play the bongos. They are easy to learn the basics, but still have the potential for deep, virtuosic playing. 

The best way to start playing bongo drums is by starting with your hands on the drum skin, near the center of the drum head. The sound created by your fingers will be softer and less sharp than when using a stick.

Why are bongos so expensive?

Not all bongos are expensive, in fact, you can find entry-level bongos at very affordable prices. That being said, some bongos can cost more than an entire full-sized drum kit. Expensive bongos tend to be hand-made and use high-quality and rare materials. To get the best sound quality, a lot of care and attention needs to be given to the design snd construction process. 

Wrapping Up – These are the best bongo drums around

Thanks for reading. You should now have a good idea of the best bongo drums on the market. These are fantastic musical instruments to play and are a lot of fun for experienced drummers and beginners alike. You will be able to find some bongo sets with the perfect sound for your playing style. 

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