A Beginner-Friendly Guide to Timbales: 8 Best Timbales for You!

Timbales, sometimes called pailas, utilize a single-headed design similar to a rack and floor tom. However, timbales are shallower and tuned higher than a typical tom drum. In addition, they utilize a metal casing which provides the drums with better durability.

8 Best Timbales Reviewed in this Guide

The first timbales came to Cuba during the 20th century as a substitute for the timpani. Typically, a percussionist will hit timbales’ shells and drumhead with the help of wooden sticks. Moreover, most percussionists would mount a cowbell on top of their Pailas stand.

There are various techniques that percussionists can utilize when playing timbales, such as the Martilio— a technique on bongo drums. Contrary to popular belief, the usage of Timbales isn’t confined to Cuban music alone. Songs like Smooth by Santana feature elements and sound from Timbales.

Therefore, if you’re looking for the best Timbales within the market, then look no further. In this guide, I collected 8 incredible Timbale sets perfect for all budgets and skill levels.

2 Budget-Friendly Timbales for Beginners

Lykos Latin Percussion 13″ & 14″ Timbales Drum Set

Lykos Latin Percussion 13' & 14' Timbales Drum Set with Stand and Cowbell Black

The Lykos Timbale Set delivers both durability and sound versatility within a budget. Firstly, Lykos constructed this timbale set using a double-braced stand, providing users with better stability. This leg stand design also delivers users a more durable performance against beatings.

Secondly, the Timbale set features a premium steel cowbell and holder, making the set ideal for Latin music. The kit also comes with 13” and 14” timbales, providing users with a decent playing surface and tone.

Therefore if you’re looking for a complete timbale set without spending a fortune, this kit is perfect for you.

Key Features:

  • 13” and 14” timbale sizes
  • Premium steel cowbell
  • Cowbell holder
  • Double-braced stand
  • Black colorway

Pros:

The Lykos Latin percussion timbale set features all the essentials within a low price tag. In addition, this set comes with somewhat seamless construction that improves its overall playability.

Cons:

I would only recommend this for casual playing and practice for beginners. This timbale set won’t cut anything more than that, such as recording and live performances.

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Meinl Percussion MIT810CH 8-Inch and 10-Inch Mountable Steel Mini Timbales

Meinl Percussion MIT810CH 8-Inch and 10-Inch Mountable Steel Mini Timbales, Chrome Finish

Perfect for drummers on the road, the Meinl MIT810CH Timbales delivers an incredible tone and performance within a compact construction. Meinl designed the MIT810CH with a smaller construction, resulting in a higher sound signature that easily cuts through dense mixes.

Furthermore, the set comes with a strong mounting clamp that attaches to both percussion and drumkit setups. Meinl also includes an L-shaped drum key to help users maximize the pitch of this timbale set.

Lastly, the Meinl Percussion MIT810CH Timbale set features a steel chrome finish that will surely fit in any set colorway. Versatility, durability, and stability within a budget— that’s what the Meinl MIT810CH delivers.

Key Features:

  • 8” and 10” timbale sizes
  • Steel shells
  • Chrome finish
  • Heavy-duty mounting clamp

Pros:

This kit comes with a stable heavy-duty clamp. In addition, it comes pre-tuned, allowing users to play with them right off the box. Also, Meinl’s implementation of the kit’s chrome finish is sleek and clean.

Cons:

The Meinl MIT810CH requires heavy-duty stands since they are prone to tipping due to their heavy construction.

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3 Affordable Timbales for Intermediate Players

Latin Percussion LPA256 Aspire Series 13″ & 14″ Timbales

Latin Percussion LPA256 Aspire Series 13' & 14' Timbale Set with Cowbell

If you’re looking for a timbale set that’s easy to integrate within a drumkit, this is the one for you! The LP Aspire Set replicates an authentic timbale sound that resembles the tuning of standard drum kits. In addition, the set’s construction encourages the best projection possible for all types of playing.

Moreover, the LPA256 set comes with a heavy-duty and adjustable timbale stand that’s easy to position around a drumkit. Latin Percussion also included the Aspire cowbell, a drums key, and timbale sticks for a more convenient setup.

Furthermore, Latin Percussion designed these timbales with the standard 13” macho and 14” hembra sizing. This allows the kit to replicate a classic timbale sound without compromising its projection. The kit also comes with plastic heads that help increase the pitch of these timbales.

Key Features:

  • 6 ½” deep shells
  • 13” and 14” timbale sizes
  • LP Aspire Cowbell
  • Triple-flanged hoops
  • Double-braced stand

Pros:

The set comes provides users with incredible projection perfect for most musical settings. LP also constructed the LPA256 with stick-saver hoops that preserve drumstick quality. Finally, this kit is a perfect auxiliary drum for standard drumkits. Consequently, allowing users to easily expand their drum sound.

Cons:

All the product’s inclusion is incredible considering its price. However, the set’s stand lacks in terms of stability.

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Meinl Percussion HT1314CH Headliner Series Steel Timbales

Meinl Percussion HT1314CH Headliner Series Steel Timbales With Chrome Finish and Stand

The Meinl Percussion Headliner Timbales delivers a classic timbale sound perfect for most musical styles. In addition, Meinl pairs the HT1314CH with a double-braced stand, providing users with decent stability when playing.

The product’s stand also comes with a cowbell holder and adjustable functions. Its height and tilt adjustment functionalities provide the Meinl Headliner with improved flexibility and customization for a better playing experience.

Finally, the Meinl Headliner Timbales come with a free wrench and drums key. Thus, allowing users to easily adjust their kit’s playability and pitch.

Key Features:

  • 13” and 14” timbale sizes
  • Adjustable tilting stand
  • Double-braced heavy-duty stand legs
  • Cowbell holder
  • Tuning key

Pros:

The Meinl Headliner provides users with incredible positioning and customizing flexibility. Moreover, this kit also delivers an outstanding tone within an affordable price point.

Cons:

This kit doesn’t come with an additional cowbell unlike the LP Aspire Timbales— which is within the same price.

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Latin Percussion John Dolmayan Mini Timbales

Latin Percussion John Dolmayan Mini Timbales with Cowbell and Mount Pack

Fans of System of a Down will recognize the incredible talent of its drummer John Dolmayan. The Grammy-winning band has achieved tremendous success thanks to its members’ skills and their impeccable choice of instruments. That’s why if you’re looking to make the next rock hit, equip your drumkit with this tested and proven gear.

First, the John Dolmayan Signature Timbales feature a 6” and 8” diameter and a 3 ¼” deep shell. LP pairs these nickel-plated shells with a drumhead tuned to an authentic Cuban-style tuning.

Second, this set comes with the LP236C— a mounting bracket that easily attaches to 3/8” diameter rods. That’s why the LP John Dolmayan Timbales easily attaches itself to most drumkits. Lastly, the set’s specification delivers a high-pitched sound that comes with moderate overtones.

Key Features:

  • 6” and 8” timbale sizes
  • 3 ¼” deep nickel-plated shells
  • 5.75” nickel-plated LP Cha Cha Cowbell
  • LP236C black powder-coated mounting bracket
  • Dark chrome finish

Pros:

LP constructed the John Dolmayan Timbale Set to easily mount on a drum rack. The kit also utilizes the specifications of grammy-winning drummer John Dolmayan. Thus, making it a non-compromise timbale set suitable for professional settings.

Cons:

The set’s timbales are great; however, the included cowbell lacks in terms of sound and tone.

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3 Timbales for Professional Percussionists and Drummers

Latin Percussion LP Matador 14″ & 15″ Timbales

Latin Percussion LP Matador 14' & 15' Timbales - Chrome

The LP Matador packs the ideal tone and punch for live performances. LP constructed the Matador using 14” and 15” diameter chrome shells. Its 6 ½” deep shell helps the LP Matador deliver a powerful projection that cuts through mixes like butter!

Moreover, the LP Matador utilizes a heavy-duty stand that easily withstands beating and abuse while on the road. The set’s stand effortlessly supports the timbale’s hulking weight, delivering a stable performance under any setting.

LP also incorporated its adjustable tilting timbale functionality on its stand. As a result, the LP Matador delivers incredible hardware flexibility when positioned around a drumkit.

Key Features:

  • 14 and 15” timbale sizes
  • 6 ½” deep chrome shells
  • LP Adjustable Tilting Stand
  • Double-braced stand legs
  • Tuning wrench

Pros:

The LP Matador boasts materials that help improve its projection without compromising tone, making it ideal for live performances. Its utilization of bigger chrome materials and 6 ½” deep shells makes it extremely robust against hard hits.

Cons:

The Matador’s humongous construction makes it significantly cumbersome to lug around than smaller timbales.

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Meinl Percussion MT1415CH Marathon Series Timbales

Meinl Percussion MT1415CH Marathon Series Chrome Finish Steel Timbales, 14-Inch and 15-Inch with Stand

Finding timbales or pailas with professional-grade specifications offered at a low price is a hard find. However, finding one is not impossible thanks to the Meinl MT1415CH Marathon Series Timbales!

Meinl designed the kit’s heavy-duty style with double-braced legs, height-adjustment capabilities, and tilting features. Consequently, enabling users to easily customize the set’s overall playing experience. This also allows for easier set placement around a drumkit or percussion set.

Working musicians doesn’t have to settle for less! Affordability doesn’t always have to equate with sub-par specifications and materials. Therefore, if you’re looking for a timbale set that will cut in any setting, this is the product for you.

Key Features:

  • 14” and 15” timbale sizes
  • Worked-in flanges
  • Chrome materials
  • Adjustable cowbell holder
  • Tilting double-braced tripod

Pros:

The Marathon Series Timbales boasts professional-level specifications and materials without costing a lot. This kit also delivers incredible positioning flexibility for users who operates a big drumkit or percussion set.

Cons:

Similar to the Meinl Headliner Series, this timbale set doesn’t come with a cowbell.

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Latin Percussion LP257-BZ Timbales Solid Bronze

Latin Percussion LP257-BZ Timbal Solid Bronze

The Latin Percussion LP257-BZ is based on Tito Puente’s Timbale set— who is proclaimed as the King of Latin Music. That’s why if you’re looking for the best timbales, this is it!

LP constructed the LP257-BZ Timbales from solid bronze shells. Consequently, delivering warmer tones in comparison with chrome shells. In addition, the LP257-BZ comes with 14” and 15” shells that are 6 ½” deep, providing users with better resonance and tone.

Furthermore, the set comes with an anti-rattle sleeve which preserves the timbales’ tone and guards it against external vibrations. LP also included an adjustable timbale stand with heavy-duty specifications such as a die-cast gear tilter.

Key Features:

  • 14” and 15” timbale sizes
  • 6  ½” deep solid bronze shells
  • Height-adjustable stands
  • Anti-rattle sleeve
  • Die-cast tiller

Pros:

These timbales come with professional-level specifications meant for live and recording sessions. In addition, the LP257-BZ offers a warmer tone than chrome timbales, providing users with better tonal depth and character.

Cons:

This timbale set is the most expensive offering on this list. You can buy an entry-level or intermediate-level drumkit for its price.

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Things to Consider when Buying Timbale Sets— A Buyer’s Guide

Percussion Ensemble - Timbales

The overall tone and performance of timbales are greatly dependent on various factors, such as material, size, and other features. Buyers should understand how these variables affect the performance of a timbale set. Therefore, I crafted this buyer’s guide to explain the features you should consider to meet your musical needs.

Materials

Timbales utilize a metal shell that affects their tone. If you’re looking for a sharp sound that can easily cut through mixes, you’re better off with steel and chrome timbales. Conversely, for a warmer sound, you should go with bronze and brass timbales.

When it comes to drumheads, users can pass using synthetic drumheads; however, low-quality plastic drumheads tend to create excessive ringing. Nevertheless, you can use the drum dampeners to reduce this effect to a minimum. For an authentic sound, buyers should go with calfskin or rawhide heads, but they will cost more than synthetic heads.

Size

Another crucial factor to consider when buying timbales would be their size. The standard size for timbales is 13” and 14”. These sizes are referred to as macho and hembra drums respectively.

However, if you’re looking for a better projection, you could get a bigger timbale set than 13” and 14”. The only downside when you start to get bigger timbales would be its direct proportion to weight. Therefore, if you’re a touring musician, I would suggest getting a smaller timbale set and using a drum mic kit during performances.

Other Features

When buying timbales, buyers should look for extra features that will elevate their playing experience while saving them money. For instance, buyers should look for a timbale set that features heavy-duty stands with double-braced legs. Having better flexibility, such as a height adjustment or tilting property is a plus.

Furthermore, buying timbales that come with a cowbell for drum set allows you to save money in the long run. Finding inclusive features such as a heavy-duty mounting bracket, anti-rattle sleeves, and drum keys are also satisfactory.

Frequently Asked Questions about Timbale Sets

What are Timbales used for?

Typically, timbales were developed in Cuba during the late 19th century to act as a substitute for the timpani. Orquestas Tipicas— a type of instrumental ensemble in Cuba— were the first ones to fully-utilize timbales.

As time progressed, percussionists began to utilize timbales in salsa, pop, and even rock music. Although they were originally designed for Cuban music, there are tons of possibilities that come with a timbale set.

What are timbales in Puerto Rico?

A Puerto Rican Timbale set features the same tunable single-headed drum design of timbales. In addition, they also use steel shells in their construction. The difference between a regular and Puerto Rican timbale set is that the latter utilizes two cowbells instead of one. In addition, Puerto Rican timbales also sometimes utilize a wood block percussion within its set.

Is Timbales a percussion instrument?

The timbales fall under the Hornbostel-Sachs Classification of membranophone percussion. In this light, a timbale set is considered to be a percussion instrument.

What music uses timbales?

Timbales are mostly used in Cuban music and other Latin and Afro-American music. However, this specific instrument has seen its utilization within pop culture and other genres. For instance, System of a Down’s timbale utilization helps bring the feel of Latin music within a rock context.

How do you play timbales?

Percussionists usually play a timbale set using a drumstick without a tip. One of the most basic timbale techniques would be the Baqueteo which utilizes a mixture of open and muted strokes.

You could also play timbales with a cowbell by using bell patterns. This specific technique works perfectly in mambo and other music that requires a 3-2 or 2-3 clave sequence.

Here’s a video guide that can help you visualize more techniques in timbale playing:

Enjoy your New Timbale Set!

Silhouette of a Man Playing Drums - Timbales

In conclusion, timbales are incredible instruments that can help bring Latin and Afro-American musical elements within a kit. Moreover, they are also an affordable and ideal option for drummers who want to expand their tom drum sound.

Hopefully, this guide has been instrumental in finding the best timbales according to your needs. Which timbale set within this guide did you find appealing and interesting? I would love to read your thoughts about these timbales in the comment section.

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