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The Best Bongos for Quality Sound in 2022

  1. Toca 2100RR Drum Bongo
  2. Toca Synergy Series Bongo
  3. Pearl PMB-1 Mini Bongo
  4. GP Bongo Drums
  5. LP Aspire Fiberglass Bongo Drums
  6. LP Matador Wood Bongo Drums
  7. Latin Percussion LP City Wood Bongo
  8. Meinl Percussion 7" and 8.5" Fiberglass Bongo
  9. Pearl Bobby Allende Signature Bongo Drums
  10. Toca Synergy Series Bongo
  11. Buyer's Guide

Great skins or heads on cheap drums – okay, it may sound like a contradiction in terms, but consider this for a moment – if the issue were congas, it's, of course, a different story; but because bongos require a fraction of the wood or fiberglass that congas require, the overall sound quality depends more on the skin and the player than the drum's body or even its hardware system. So again, consider the idea of not spending hundreds on high tier bongo drums. Instead buy a pair of the cheapies featured on this list for $100, and if the diameters match, invest in some quality hide or synthetic Remos. You should grab a mirror to check out the look of pleasant surprise that'll appear on your face once you start playing! Even without high-quality heads, the bongo drums here are pretty darn decent for extremely low prices. Keep on reading to figure out the right pair for you!

Our Top Ten Bongos

Toca 2100RR Drum Bongo - Best Bongos Overall

These are $150 but well worth it. Toca makes the best affordable drums, and the Traditional Series is a perfect example. Even without the skin upgrade recommended in the introduction, these are a joy to play. They feel and sound like bongos of old, a terrific break from today's oversized trend in bongo drums. The best is the traditional rims, which are unfortunately rare to find as a factory-issued design. Toca's Traditional bongos are a great low-cost option for professional bongoseros. Beginners will get a set that they'll get great use out of for years and years. These are very well made.

best set bongo

Toca Synergy Series Bongo - Runner Up

Sheila and Toca have done it again! These are unbelievably solid, no-nonsense bongos that are perfect for beginners. They're not too heavy, come with traditional rims and again, sound impressive for a $100 instrument. Sheila E. Player's Series bongo drums have a 7-inch diameter macho and 8.5-inch hembra, which makes them appropriately sized for synthetic heads. They sound great with Remo Nuskyn heads. Construction on these is very sturdy, including four carriage bolts with each drum's side plate.

Pearl PMB-1 Mini Bongo - Honorable Mention

Pearl has really earned its reputation as a top maker of drums and percussion. These affordable Primero bongo drums indicate a company that has its stuff together, as well as being soundly in touch with consumers' needs. For the beginning bongosero, these drums are just about tailor-made. Primeros are nearly clones of the Toca Sheila E. Player's bongos, save for the curved instead of traditional rims. Like Sheila's Player's, these are right for Remo's heads. Synthetic Nuskyn heads make these bongos sound amazing, just about as good as expensive, hand-crafted drums. For under $100, these should be considered by anyone curious about bongos.

GP Bongo Drums - Best Budget Bongos

GP is one of those no-name brands that tend to surprise with bits of low-cost excellence. It's actually the Sam Ash house brand. These hickory bongos are amazingly solid in both design, manufacturing, and sound. The hardware is a little on the heavy side, but the rims are comfort-curved and less brutal on a beginner's hands than traditional rims may be. The biggest surprise from GP is the smooth, very playable skins that come with these drums. That's a plus because synthetic heads only come in 7- and 7.25-inch diameters for the macho. Like GP drum sets, these inexpensive bongos go a long way for such a small fee.

LP Aspire Fiberglass Bongo Drums - Best Budget Bongos

Here's the biggest-selling cheap bongo around – the fiberglass upgrade, that is. No other percussion maker in history has been so successful and long-standing, and it's nice they've upgraded the dreadful wood Aspire line with this awesome low-cost fiberglass option. A slight drawback here is that pros seeking a great workhorse or practice set won't be able to synthesize the macho skin because of the 6.75-inch diameter. The 8-inch hembra, though, will accommodate a Remo head. These are nicely lightweight for fiberglass and priced to move at less than $100. These are great as a stand-mounted drum kit accessory because of the added volume from playing them with sticks.

LP Matador Wood Bongo Drums - Best Bongos Overall

Meet the prototype for the modern bongo. Matadors are LP's unsung heroes, their design reflects the first generation of products that put this trailblazing percussion company on the map in the late-1960s. The wood is trusty Siam oak, the same as most of LP's standard-setting drums. The no-frills, no-nonsense design is what's best about these, it's what makes them lighter than anything else on this list. Matador bongos even come with superior stock rawhide skins compared to LP's more expensive models with water buffaloes. And with higher quality synthetic or custom-made mule or rawhide heads, Matadors truly project the sound of vintage salsa like no other. Viva el Matador!

Latin Percussion LP City Wood Bongo - Best Bongos Overall

If you need to be loud and that means just about any bongosero today who works with, or sometimes against powerful amplifiers, these LP fiberglass wonders are it. The tone is by no means too bright or ringy. They really scream when tuned high and tight but also demonstrate excellent tonal versatility toward the low end. The hembra especially impresses with its tonal versatility. This is a set of bongo drums salsa players will love because of the relatively dry tone they put out compared to lots of other fiberglass bongos. They're also extremely durable, again, this is a great choice for a player who gigs and tours often.

Meinl Percussion 7" and 8.5" Fiberglass Bongo - Best Bongos Overall

The only reason these don't rank higher is that taking them out of the house could mar their breathtaking, wavy-grain finish. Meinl continues to amaze with the Free Ride bongos. First of all, they're completely handmade from white ash wood, hence the inflated price. But the really interesting aspect of these is the patented Free Ride Suspension System there's no center block with a big screw through it holding the drums together! So, hence, no unexpected loosening in the middle of a gig. Meinl's reputation for superbly tough hardware comes through here as well.

Pearl Bobby Allende Signature Bongo Drums - Best Bongos Overall

Remo Fiberskyn 3 heads are stock on these beautiful Bobby Allende signature bongos by Pearl. Other than Remo's bongos, which do sound nice but are ridiculously heavy, no other company provides Remo heads on their drums direct from the factory. Bobby Allende's signature bongos are great live because of impressive projection power, and in the studio, their responsiveness and flexible tunability really come in handy. These bongos are light, loud and are some of the loveliest fiberglass drums to be found. Pearl calls the finish "Café Con Leche," which gives these fiberglass drums a warm, natural appearance.

Toca Synergy Series Bongo - Best Bongos Overall

These are a steal for only $150, kudos to Toca! It's an unfortunate rarity to find such quality for such a low price, especially for a signature item. Rafael Padilla is a pop player, but his drums are very traditional -- a great throwback design. These are amazingly sensitive and responsive, great for recording thanks to their dynamic responsiveness. This is mainly due to the reduced diameters compared to most contemporary bongo drums, which also makes them very ergonomic. Bongoseros who prefer to play with taste and dynamics rather than ferocity should give these a shot.

Buyer's Guide

Our Buying Guide for Picking a Bongo

All those who are into music will probably want a drum set. No doubt that drum sets are an excellent option for bands, but they are heavy and unwieldy to carry. If you also feel that these drums are unsuitable for portability, you can choose bongo drums instead. Bongos are not like regular drums but are equally fun to play. As these bongos come in small sizes, people prefer them due to ease of portability. You can enjoy a range of musical tones with bongos, but surely the tone will not be the same as the original drums.

Once you start looking for a set of bongo drums, you'll come across various features and models. Thus, finding the perfect one can be overwhelming, and this is where we jump to your rescue.

What Should I Look For in a Bongo Drum?

Size

The main purpose of buying a bongo drum is that it is easier to manage and carry than a drum set. Thus, when buying a bongo drum, pay close attention to the size and weight. Although bongos are always smaller in size than drums, some can weigh a lot more than your expectation. The average size of the best bongo should range somewhere between five and eight inches. Furthermore, if you are planning to buy a bongo for a kid, it is best to find the one that weighs less than two pounds. Adult-sized bongos can range from eight to thirteen pounds.

Material


After checking the size, you should inspect the material closely. The bongo shells are typically made from wood, but you may also come across varieties made from siam oak. Rarely, some manufacturers use resin or metal to make the drum shells too. The most crucial thing to see is making the bongo head from natural materials to ensure durability.

Features


Checking what features the bongo comes with ensures that you get what you paid for. The best bongos will come with a tuning wrench so you can adjust the tightness of the head according to the required beat. It is smart to look for bongos accompanied by additional accessories like a carrying case that makes it easy to transport the instrument. Furthermore, a carry case is also suitable for storage as it protects the drum shell from any damage. For those people who are looking forward to playing the bongo drums at a large gathering, they can also look for shoulder straps and waist straps.

Deciding Based on Your Skill Level


Experts recommend that you should always get a musical instrument according to your skillset. You can sometimes get a gear slightly above your skills, so you have considerable room for growth. However, it is not advisable to get a bongo set for experts while you have just begun your journey in music.

Like how you don't buy adult-sized clothes for a toddler, you should not purchase musical instruments that are way above your skills. It will just make it difficult for you to manage and handle the set.

If you are a beginner and have recently established a path on your journey in music, you will want to pursue a bongo drum as it is easy to play and smaller in size, making it easy to manage. Furthermore, it would help if you bought the bongo drum at a lower price. As you slowly enhance your skills, you can look for more expensive bongos, and the features that come with them will increase simultaneously.

On the other hand, if you are an expert, you can look for some of the most expensive bongos with the best quality. You can dig into advanced features as you already have command over the required skills. Professional bongos are made with the most resilient material that is guaranteed to last for decades.

What Should I Look For in a Beginner Bongo?

Condition of the drumhead


Drumheads are replaceable, but if your bongo costs merely seventy dollars, then it will be insignificant to replace the drum heads as they will cost more than the whole bongo. Thus, when buying a bongo for a beginner level, make sure that the drumhead is in perfect condition and does not have any defects in the skin. The weak skin of a drumhead is a major problem of bongos. It is also important to note that aberrations and grooves in animal skin are common, so they are not an issue, but weak skin can tear the drumhead in no time.

Quality of the drumhead


While you cannot expect the most excellent quality in a bongo drum with the lowest price, still you can expect it to be reliable for a certain period. Thick drumheads result in a dull and flat sound that is not usually appealing to the ears. Hence, it is best to look for drumheads with thinner skin. Secondly, you need to make sure that the consistency of the drumhead is even all over the place and does not have any bumps.

Quality of hardware


The tuning lungs are an essential part of the bongo; it is not wrong to say that they are the instrument's heart. If these tuning lungs bow down or bend over, then your bongos will ultimately become useless. Closely examine the rim and make sure that it is even, and then look at the bottom of the ring to figure out its strength.

Shell construction


If you are planning to buy wood bongos, then it is best to look inside the drum. Bongos are generally made with the help of regular slats that are glued together. You need to closely check that there is no unevenness or gap in the slats as it can put you in a lot of trouble.

Some Buyers Also Ask


Q. Is it possible to tune a bongo drum?
A. Yes, if you buy a bongo with a tuning wrench, you can comfortably tune it. It is important to see that the head of the bongo stretches before you play.

Q. What is the best way to store a bongo?
A. Storing a bongo is a crucial process because there are many delicate parts, such as the head. Secondly, you should store the bongo drum away from direct sunlight and apply the drum oil regularly.

Q. Is the bongo drum replacement for regular drums?
A. No, it is not a replacement but can be used as a substitute due to size convenience.

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