Types of Hand Drums

In the drum circle, your age doesn’t really matter, neither does your status of pro or amateur. They don’t have a system for ranking or something like the first chair. No one is considered better than the other, everyone is equally treated with the same respect letting both professionals and beginners come along together and enjoy their time. This is why drum circles are said to be few of the most popular community groups. If you’re interested in playing and learning or even just knowing about types of hand drums, then you’ve come just to the right place.

All that may make you want to pursue drumming and if hand drumming is what you’re looking forward to, then you need to know some things before you get into hand drums or hand percussions, as they’re also called. 

What Exactly are Hand Drums and How Do They work?

Hand drums, also referred to as hand percussions, are considered to be really popular amongst other traditional musical instruments. Hand drums are instruments that are played by shaking it, striking it, beating it with a stick or even your hands.

Percussion instruments or hand drums are essentially the same things, that is, sound is produced by striking them. The only real difference between them would be that each drum has a specific pitch zone.

The high and low pitch sounds that are produced by percussion instruments are referred to as pitch zones. Hitting the rim of the head produces high pitched sounds while hitting the center of the head produces low pitched sounds. 

Hand drums are mostly seen getting classified according to the regions it originated from. However, today we will try to differentiate between them by their types and the differences that they have apart from just their origin.

Types of Hand Drums

Frame Drums

Originating in Northern Africa and the Middle East, frame drums can be called one of the most popular kinds of hand drums without a doubt. After its birth, it has reached many places all around the world and got called by many names like deff, doff, muzzar and many more.

Frame drums are typically made with a single drum head which is wide, and it generally comes in a wooden frame. It is considered to be the most portable out of the other hand drums, and it is also pretty cheap due the simple design that it offers.

They are simple and easy to play and also help in developing rhythmic techniques, making them great for every age. The size of the drum goes from 8 to 16 inches. 


Types of Hand Drums
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Originating in Africa, the djembe comes in a shape that resembles a goblet. It also offers a wide range sound, from low and deep bass sounds to sharp and high slaps. It is considered to be the most diverse and flexible drum amongst all the others and so is loved by many drummers. 

It can be found in both wooden and fiberglass designs, which is generally recommended for beginners. Generally a djembe with 24-inch height and a 12-inch head is recommended for adults. Keep in mind that cheap djembe often produce less sound.


Types of Hand Drums
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Said to have originated in Cuba, bongos are a pair of drums that are less bulky compared to djembes. The smaller one is called Macho and the larger one is called Hembra. The wide variety of sounds that they produce makes them great to be used for almost any genre. 

They mainly have calfskin heads and come in both wooden and synthetic shells. The synthetic may be good for beginners but it still however sounds mediocre compared to wooden shells. A perfect set of bongos are the ones that sound great.


Types of Hand Drums
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Originated in India, the ‘Tabla’ comes in two parts, the Dayan and the Bayan. The Dayan is used to produce higher pitched sounds so it’s made of wood to help produce those high pitched sounds. It is the smaller drum on the right side of the set. The bayan is made of copper or brass and is the larger one on the left side. 

Tabla is a unique instrument that has quite the captivating play since it requires chic finger movements and amazing hand skills.


luisa fernanda bayona

Having a size range from 9 to 34 inches, they’re easily one of the bigger hand drums, hence they are less portable. The wide range of sizes may often be too overwhelming to choose from when first learning the instrument but 10 to 12 inches congas are generally recommended for beginners. 

When making a melody, the smaller drums are often called the singers while the bigger ones play the lower rhythms. There are both wooden and fiberglass congas. The wooden ones offer more mellow and soft sounds while the fiberglass ones have a louder sound to them. 


Originating in Peru, the Cajon looks like a percussion box that is made out of wood. It is also found in Cuba and Spain, where it is mostly used to play fusion music, pop and flamenco. 

It has a hole in the back designated for resonance and is normally played by striking the surface while sitting on the top of it. Modern Cajons are seen to have snares in them for added effect.


sam moqadam

They are called by many different names like Dumbak, Darbuka etc. It was developed in the Middle East. It has a goblet like shape and is able to provide a variety of different sounds. It comes in many different shapes and sizes and each offers a unique sound and feature. For example, Turkish doumbeks often have cymbals and jingles inside them.


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Due to their handmade designs, they are often really expensive. They’re a group of hand drums that are small in size but can produce different sounds and tones, which lets them be rich in sound quality. 

Final Words

There are many types of hand drums available, most are derived and a modernized version of older ones. If you want to pick one up, then choose one that is the most appealing to you and start drumming!

You Can Also Read: Best Drum Throne

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