10 Bongo Drums for All Skill Levels: Latin Funk without Breaking the Bank

Bongo drums are the staple of Afro-Cuban and Latin music when it comes to percussion. These small pairs of hand drums come in different sizes, producing various sounds and tones. Moreover, percussionists usually utilize bongo drums within a Latin music percussion set and sometimes a Cajon drum set.

10 Incredible Bongo Drums Reviewed in this Guide

Bongo drums first came into the limelight during the rise of son Cubano ensembles during the late 19th century. Most son Cubano percussionists use their hands when playing Bongos. However, you could experiment with using other drumsticks and brushes to achieve a specific sound on bongos.

Today, Bongos has experienced widespread media representation with the integration of Latin musical elements to pop songs. For instance, Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak’s hit single “Skate” has audible Conga and bongo drum elements within its mix.

If you’re looking for the best Bongo drums in the market, you’re in the right place. In this guide, I collected 10 of the best Bongos from different price points that cater to all percussionists from all skill levels.

5 Best Bongo Drums from Amazon under $100

EastRock Bongo Drums 4” and 5” Set

EastRock Bongo Drum 4” and 5” Set for Adults Kids Beginners Professionals Tunable Wood and Metal Drum Percussion Instruments With Tuning Wrench

EastRock crafted these 4” and 5” bongos using a specific combination of wood and metal materials. Consequently, making the EastRock Bongos highly durable and weatherproof.

Furthermore, despite its affordable price, this bongo set still comes with an animal skin drumhead. This drumhead construction provides users with better-sounding bongo tones.

In addition, EastRock provides users with a seamless rim construction, eliminating any sharp edge. Paired with a natural skin drumhead, the EastRock Bongo Drums provide users with a comfortable and safe playing experience.

Key Features:

  • 4” and 5” bongos
  • Durable wood and metal construction
  • Animal skin drumhead
  • Seamless design
  • Free adjusting wrench

Pros:

The EastRock Bongo Drum Set utilizes genuine wood and animal skin drumhead construction, providing users with a decent playing feel. Not to mention, this bongo drum set is the lowest-priced product on this list.

Cons:

Don’t get me wrong, this product plays decently considering its price point. However, I won’t recommend this bongo drum set for recording purposes.

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Eastar Bongo Drums 6” and 7” Wood Percussion Instrument

Eastar Bongo Drums 6” and 7” Wood Percussion Instrument Bongos for Kids Adults Beginners Natural Finish, EBO-1

This Eastar Bongo Drum Set features a simplistic construction that utilizes an innovative rim that accommodates various tunings. That’s why if you’re looking for budget-friendly but versatile bongos, this is the set for you!

Eastar constructed this bongo drum set using a superior solid wood material. Thus, delivering a bright and crisp tone that easily punches through mixes. Furthermore, the Eastar Bongo drum set features a smooth and polished exterior and interior, which makes them safe for children.

This bongo drum set also features a siamese structure, allowing users to easily fix the bongos on a stand. In addition, the Eastar bongos also come with a cross-tuning method. Consequently, stretching the product’s drumhead safely and evenly across, preserving drumhead quality over time.

Key Features:

  • Siamese structure
  • 6” and 7” bongos
  • Genuine animal skin drumhead
  • Free tuning wrench
  • Lightweight carrying bag

Pros:

Eastar’s siamese structure implementation enhances this bongo drum set’s portability and transportability. This set also features authentic materials which help improve the overall playing feel of the bongo drum set.

Cons:

The product’s Siamese structure helps eliminate setting up, which makes it easier to lug around. However, this also makes the product cumbersome to carry.

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Remo BG-5300-70 Festival Bongo Drums

Remo BG-5300-70 Festival Bongo Drum - Black, 6'-7'

Let’s face it, tuning a drumhead is somewhat hectic, especially for beginners.  Luckily, the Remo BG-5300-70 Festival Bongo Drums solves this problem. With this bongo drum set, you’ll never have to tune your bongos again!

Firstly, Remo utilized pre-tuned fiberskyn heads similar to what’s seen on the Remo TA-5210-70 Tambourine Drum. The Remo Fiberskyn heads offer impressive tuning stability and resistance to changes in both humidity and temperature. That’s why the Remo Festival Bongos are one of the best choices for gigging and touring percussionists.

Secondly, the Remo Festival Bongos features a 5” Acousticon shell which helps cut the product’s weight without compromising durability. That’s why if you’re looking for a consistent bongo set on the road, this is the perfect product for you!

Key Features:

  • 6” and 7” bongos
  • Pre-tuned Synthetic Fiberskyn Drumheads
  • 5” Remo Acousticon Shell
  • Black, red, and white colorway options

Pros:

This product utilizes Fiberskyn drumheads that won’t detune even against a drastic change in temperature and humidity. Furthermore, the product’s acousticon shells make it extremely lightweight and durable.

Cons:

The Remo BG-5300-70 Festival Bongos come pre-tuned from the get-go, limiting its pitch flexibility.

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Meinl Percussion Bongo Drums with Durable Synthetic All-Weather Shells

Meinl Percussion Bongos with Durable Synthetic All-Weather Shells — NOT Made in China — Natural Buffalo Skin Heads, 2-Year Warranty (HB50BK)

Percussionists looking for budget-friendly and versatile bongo drums should not look further. The Meinl Percussion Journey Bongo Drum Set features the perfect build for all musical environments. Whether you’re a bedroom musician or a live performer, the Meinl Journey Bongo Drums has you covered!

Meinl designed the Journey bongos using synthetic shells, providing users with a consistent shell despite temperature and humidity changes.  Thus, making this kit ideal for percussionists on the road. In addition, the Meinl Journey Bongos feature black powder-coated rounded steel rims, providing users with a comfortable playing experience.

Moreover, the main tone-driving feature of this product’s tone is its hand-selected buffalo skin heads. This specific head material delivers a warm tone and depth in every hit. Users can also tune the Meinl Journey Bongos using the included tuning wrench to adjust the bongo’s 8mm lugs.

Key Features:

  • Synthetic Shells
  • Hand-selected buffalo skin drumheads
  • 6 ½” and 7 ½” bongo drums
  • Black powder-coated rounded steel rims
  • Traditional solid block connection

Pros:

The Meinl Journey Bongo Drums are extremely versatile, allowing users to tune the drumheads to any pitch they want. In addition, these bongos boast road-worthy material that can withstand abuse while touring.

Cons:

These Bongos can take a beating and produce a decent sound. Still, I don’t think these bongos’ sounds will cut it for professional-level recordings and performances.

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Eastar Bongo Drums 7” and 8” for Professional Special Antique Finish

Eastar Bongo Drums 7'' and 8'' for Professional Special Antique Finish, EBO-21

The Eastar EBO-21 Bongo Drums feature the same hand-selected buffalo skin drumhead as seen on the Meinl Journey Bongos. However, the Eastar Bongos utilize 6 ¾” and 8” drumheads, providing users with a deep and well-defined warm tone.

Furthermore, Eastar utilizes a solid hardwood body material on this bongo set. This specification provides these bongos with better resonance and a richer sound in comparison with synthetic shells. The EBO-21 also comes with a rounded steel rim, delivering a comfortable playing feel even to the hardest hitters.

Lastly, the Eastar EBO-21 Bongos feature an antique finish that’s coherent with the warm and classic sound of this set. Therefore, making this product one of the best bongo drums for beginners and intermediate percussionists.

Key Features:

  • 6 ¾” and 8” bongos
  • Hand-selected buffalo skin head
  • High-quality hardwood shells
  • Rounded stainless steel rim
  • Lightweight carrying case

Pros:

The EBO-21 utilizes genuine hardwood and buffalo skin materials, providing users with the best resonance and aesthetics for under $100. In addition, the product’s antique finish gives it more flair than other bongos within the same price point.

Cons:

This Eastar Bongo Drum Set delivers remarkable warmth and resonance; however, these bongos sound flat and underwhelming.

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Top 5 Bongo Drums for Intermediate and Professional Percussionists

Latin Percussion LP601NY-VSB LP City Wood Bongos

Latin Percussion LP601NY-VSB LP City Wood Bongos - Vintage Sunburst

The LP City Series Bongos feature Siam Oak shells, allowing the bongos to deliver a sonically pleasing and resonant tone. In addition, the bongo set’s Siam Oak construction provides it with better durability against dings and scratches.

Moreover, LP also utilized 6” and 7” rawhide heads on the bongos’ overall construction. Consequently, providing the LP City Wood Bongos with a better playing feel, tonal quality, and look.

The LP City Wood Bongos are also compatible with height-adjustable stands. Thus, allowing users to easily incorporate these bongos on a drumkit, similar to a cowbell for drumset.

Key Features:

  • Siam Oak drum shell
  • Rawhide drumheads
  • 6” and 7” bongos
  • Black powder-coated rim
  • Rubber bottoms

Pros:

The LP City Wood Bongos boasts a seamless design and construction that’s easy on the eyes and hands. These bongos also feature some premium-level materials such as rawhide drumheads without the hefty price tag.

Cons:

This product’s overall construction is smaller than your typical bongo. If you have large hands, it’s better to find another product.

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Meinl Percussion Bongos with Rubberwood Stave Shells

Meinl Percussion Bongos with Rubberwood Stave Shells — NOT Made in China — Natural Buffalo Skin Heads, 2-Year Warranty, Sun Burst (HB100VSB)

The Meinl Headliner Bongos features a combination of features that makes it viable under various musical settings. Whether you are a drummer who wants to expand their drumkit’s sound or a percussionist playing with a Latin band, this product is perfect for you!

The main difference between the Meinl Journey and Headliner Bongos is its construction. The headliner bongo features rubberwood stave shells, delivering better warmth and resonance than synthetic shells.

Furthermore, the Meinl Headliner Bongo comes with 6 ¾” and 8” buffalo skin drumheads. As a result, this bongo drum set produces a warm response with ample depth. Finally, the product’s utilization of rounded rims minimizes hand contact to avoid injuries when playing.

Key Features:

  • Rubberwood Stave Shells
  • Hand-selected buffalo skin drumheads
  • Black powder-coated steel
  • Traditional block connection
  • 6 ¾” and 8” bongos

Pros:

Meinl’s utilization of rubberwood Stave shells on the Headliner Bongos allows them to have a consistent sound. In addition, these bongos are compatible with most musical settings thanks to their drumhead, shell, and rim specifications.

Cons:

The Meinl Headliner shares a lot of features with the Journey Bongo line— which costs a lot less.

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LP ASPIRE Series Wood Bongo Drums Natural LPA601-AW

LP ASPIRE Series Wood Bongos Natural LPA601-AW

The LP Aspire Bongo Drums utilizes Siam Oak Shells, allowing it to resonate and have more durability. In addition, the LP Aspire also comes with black powder-coated hardware, providing the bongos with better stability and aesthetics.

Moreover, the LP Aspire features 6 ¾” and 8” natural rawhide heads that make this set produce a warm and well-defined tone. The set also utilizes the LP Aspire EZ Curve Rims, eliminating injuries that may occur to users by lowering the rim’s position.

LP’s utilization of 9/32” diameter tuning lugs allows users to conveniently tune the drumhead according to their preference. These bongo drums’ Cuban-style steel bottoms improve their stability when played on a flat surface.

Key Features:

  • Siam Oak Shells
  • Cuban steel bottoms
  • Natural rawhide drumhead
  • 6 ¾” and 8” bongo drums
  • 9/32” tuning lugs

Pros:

The LP Aspire features excellent materials, resulting in better playability than other bongo drums within its price list. Furthermore, the product’s tuning stability is remarkable thanks to its 9/32” tuning lugs.

Cons:

These bongo drums don’t come pre-tuned from the factory. Therefore, you will have to tune them upon arrival.

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Meinl Percussion FWB190AF Free Ride Series Wood Bongos

Meinl Percussion FWB190AF Free Ride Series Wood Bongos, Amber Flame Finish

The Meinl Percussion Free Ride Series feature the same Rubberwood stave shells as seen in the Meinl Headliner bongo drums. This allows the bongos to have uniform qualities for an accurate and consistent sound.

Meinl also incorporated hand-selected buffalo skin heads which allows this set to produce that classic bongo drums. Both the 6 ¾” and 8” heads of the Free Ride Series bongo drums deliver warmth and depth. Consequently, enabling the kit to cut through various mixes.

Furthermore, Meinl utilized their Free Ride Suspension System on these bongo drums. The addition of the Free Ride System eliminates the need for drilling holes in the bongo’s shell. As a result, this allows the shell to breathe and have better resonance.

Key Features:

  • 6 ¾” and 8” bongo drums
  • Hand-selected buffalo drumheads
  • Rubberwood stave shell
  • Meinl Free Ride Suspension System
  • 2.5mm Meinl SSR rounded rims

Pros:

This bongo drum set provides users with the most resonance possible for a bongo drum. In addition, the Free Ride Bongo Drums utilize professional-level specifications suitable for live performances and recording sessions. Its tone also sounds excellently with a drum mic kit.

Cons:

The one gripe I have with this bongo drum set is its heavier weight than typical bongo drums.

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Latin Percussion M201-AWC LP Matador Wood Bongo Drums

Latin Percussion M201-AWC LP Matador Wood Bongos - Natural/Chrome

If you’re a professional musician looking for a traditional-sounding bongo, these are the bongo drums for you. Firstly, the LP Matador Bongos boasts a professional-level construction that dominates in all playing environments. Featuring Siam Oak Shells, the LP Matador is a tough contender to beat in terms of tone.

Secondly, the product’s utilization of 7 ¼” and 8 5/8” sizes allows them to dish out a fuller and warmer tone than smaller bongos. Moreover, these bongo drums’ resonance is next to none thanks to their larger shell construction.

Lastly, the LP Matador Bongos features incredible hardware. This product offers an excellent tuning experience and stability thanks to its 5/16” diameter tuning lugs. On the other hand, its steel backing plate and cast aluminum bottoms provide users with better playing stability.

Key Features:

  • Siam Oak Shells
  • 7 ¼” and 8 5/8” bongo drums
  • Traditional rim construction
  • 5/16” tuning lugs
  • Natural Rawhide Drumheads
  • Steel backing plate
  • Cast aluminum bottom

Pros:

The LP Matador Wood Bongo Drums feature professional-grade specification that justifies their price point. In addition, the Matador Wood Bongo Drum is a highly versatile instrument that is suitable for any musical setting.

Cons:

The product’s hardware material choice and size make it painfully cumbersome to carry or play on your lap. Moreover, LP placed its traditional rim fairly high, which could lead to hand injuries when hit strongly.

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What to Look for When Buying Bongo Drums?— A Buyer’s Guide

Conga and Bongo Drums

Finding the bongo drums that will fit your needs could be as difficult as finding a needle in a haystack. However, finding the right product shouldn’t be hard given that you know what you’re looking for in a bongo drum. Therefore, I crafted this buyer’s guide to help you find the best bongo drums according to your budget and preference.

Shell Material

The shell of a bongo drum set dictates the amount of resonance it will provide. In addition, the overall tone of a bongo drum also depends on its shell material.

For starters, a bongo drum set with a wooden shell will have a warmer and deeper sound. Wooden materials also improve the sound quality of bongo drums, not to mention that they are also aesthetically pleasing to look at. However, one weakness of wooden materials is it’s prone to damage under humidity and weather changes.

On the other hand, synthetic materials provide bongo with unbeatable projection. In addition, this construction is also immune to weather and humidity changes, making them the perfect material for touring musicians. Synthetic materials are also extremely lightweight in comparison with wooden materials.

For budget-friendly wooden bongos, any hardwood would do. However, if you’re looking for the best tone possible, I would recommend Siam Oak and Rubberwood Stave Shells. When it comes to synthetic bongos, no material is off the table. Still, if you want the best sound possible, then go with fiberglass.

Drumheads

Similar to shell material, bongo drumheads also utilize two types of drumhead material— rawhide and synthetic.

Rawhide drumheads utilize animal skins, usually from cows, as their main material source. Although rawhide heads deliver a warm and well-defined tone, they have inferior tuning stability to synthetic heads. Moreover, most rawhide drumheads lose their tuning under drastic weather and humidity changes.

On the other end of the spectrum lies synthetic heads. These heads are more durable than rawhide materials. In addition, they also provide better tuning stability than the former. One problem that they have is that their tone isn’t close to the more authentic and traditional sound of rawhides.

If you’re a recording musician, you’ll be better off using rawhide bongo drumheads. Conversely, touring percussionists should utilize synthetic drumheads to ensure tuning stability and durability while on the road.

Tuning Stability and Flexibility

Some bongo drums come from the factory pre-tuned. Although this construction provides users with great tuning stability, it lessens the bongo’s versatility among various musical styles. That’s why buyers should always look for bongos that feature tuning lugs. Consequently, allowing you to maximize its performance across different settings.

Frequently Asked Questions about Bongo Drums

How much does a bongo drum cost?

If you’re looking for a budget-friendly bongo drum, you’ll easily find a decent one for less than $100. However, if you’re looking for intermediate to professional level bongo drums, then you’ll have to spare around $100-$200 for premium-level specifications. This figure can shoot up to more than $500 for customized bongos.

Are bongo drums easy to play?

Bongo drums are pretty straightforward. If you already have a bongo drum, you’ll only have to use your hands when playing. The learning curve most beginners have to learn when playing the bongo drum is their rhythm and technique. These two factors should work hand-in-hand to produce various sounds that make the rhythm section alive. With this in hand, beginners with consistent practice can easily learn the basics of bongos in less than a month

What is the difference between bongo and conga drums?

Both bongo and conga drums have a lot of things in common, especially in the timbre of their sound. That’s why it’s easy to confuse the two, especially for beginners.

However, bongo and conga drums are two distinct and separate instruments. Conga drums feature a bigger shell than bongo drums. Consequently, conga drums deliver a deeper tone than the latter. In a nutshell, both Latin percussion instruments differ the same way like a rack and floor tom.

What size bongos should I get?

If you don’t know the size of bongos to get, you should stick with the standard sizes. The standard size for bongos is 6”x7” and 7”x8”. This measurement is taken from the diameter of the bongo’s head.

What should I look for when buying a bongo drum?

When buying a bongo drum, buyers must ensure the overall consistency and sound of a product. That’s why I recommend buyers to look at a bongo drum’s shell, drumhead, tuning stability, and flexibility.

Enjoy your New Bongo Drums!

Man playing Bongo Drums

Bongo drums are incredible instruments that are instrumental to Latin music and Afro-American music. However, their use isn’t confined to these musical styles. Moreover, bongo drums are easy to learn and also a ton of fun. That’s why if you haven’t got a bongo yet, this is your sign to get one!

Hopefully, this guide has been helpful to your quest on finding the best bongo drums in the market. Which bongo drum did you like the most from this list?  I would love to discuss it with you in the comment section below!

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