Author Topic: Should I buy this darbuka?  (Read 2704 times)


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Should I buy this darbuka?
« on: October 29, 2015, 04:03:26 PM »
I found a used darbuka and have been wanting to pick up a hand drum for a while. It's 12" wide and 18" tall according to the ad, and the current owner says he thinks it is made out of aluminum. It has a sticker on it that says "World Beat Percussion" out of Pakistan, and he wants $100 for it, which I can afford. How can I know whether this a good drum at a good price? What am I looking for?

I'm finding aluminum darbukas online for between $100 and $200 which leads me to believe there is a wide variance in the quality of aluminum darbukas. What should I be looking for when I try it out? I'll be looking at it on Monday evening.

I have a pretty good ear for tone when I know what I'm listening for, and virtually no experience playing a hand drum. Any advice you can give would be appreciated.

Thank you!


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Re: Should I buy this darbuka?
« Reply #1 on: October 29, 2015, 04:19:11 PM »
I used to play darbuka a lot. I would look for the following things:

Heavy, cast aluminum rather than a thin aluminum shell. For the price they're asking, this should be a heavy drum, with a shell as thick as pottery but made of cast aluminum. If it's a light, thin shell, the price is too high but the drum might still be perfectly fine. If it's cast aluminum, the price sounds pretty good, but it's been awhile since I bought a drum.

Cheaper drums are often flat, like the "Turkish darbuka" shown in the smaller images. Of course, plenty of people play the flat-head drums, and I did it for awhile, but I've seen plenty of bandaged fingers as well.

If the head is glued on, you're going to spend way more time than you might enjoy heating the thing with a blow dryer or setting it on a heating pad to tighten it up, and you won't have fine control over the evenness of the tightening.

Before you test the drum, you might look at one of the YouTube videos on playing Arabic style to see the hand movements required to make sure you're pulling out the best tones that the drum can provide. Then, when you test it, there should be a clear difference in tone between the center of the drum and the edge. If the drum is cast aluminum and the body is covered in possibly hideous fake leather, this is actually good, in my opinion. It gives you some traction and helps keep the drum in place.

That's about all I can think of right now. Have fun!


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Re: Should I buy this darbuka?
« Reply #2 on: November 01, 2015, 04:30:13 AM »
Look these two videos to get some lively impression of a good Pakistani drum:

Those shape - with huge skin and a compact body - should give you good sounds, but you will need some more training to master it.
If skin and screws are in a good state and there are no deformations in the body the price might be ok.
Look for round deep doum-sounds and clear open snapping sounds at the edge.
Good luck!
« Last Edit: November 01, 2015, 04:45:00 AM by dHuGo »