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Darbuka newbie - *Mod: Buy a Darbuka

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Hello all!  I just wanted to check in to say hello and see if this forum was still relatively active.  I am a new darbuka player (long time percussionist), hoping to find a community to learn from and share with.  Thanks!

Hi, you're welcome!
We are counting one active follower in drums part of this forum, but me, today... You might be the next one!

Hopefully the forum is still growing. I'd like to start at least some topic with serious arguments.

Some years ago I started with darbuka myself coming from congas.
So come on asking! - I'm ready to respond on any of your questions.

Hello and thanks for the welcome, dHuGo!!

So many questions for sure, but I would like to start with a general instrument question.  The instrument I just received is a Toca Freestyle doumbek (which I have yet to determine the difference between doumbek and darbuka terminology) with a stated 9” head, though actual exposed measurement is 8.5”.  It has a fiberglass body and seems quite durable for travel and outdoor play.  However, the shape of the drum body is more “bowl” shaped and not “martini glass” shaped.  I am finding the drum does not sit well in my lap and I suspect this might be from the body shape.

Now, this Toca drum is not an expensive instrument at all and can be had for around $80 USD - however it certainly is letting me develope my Doum, Tek, and ka rhythms.  The Slap is still a bit tricky for me but it is getting better.  Nonetheless, I would like to get another drum but funds are always an issue especially right after the holiday.

I am consider one of the martini glass options from Meinl.  I see both aluminum and copper offerings for not too much $$$.  I am seeing from $120 ~ $160 ish USD.  Are these good drums to continue with?  Is there something better I should consider?  What should I be looking for?  Though I am a long time percussionist, I am more so with sticks and brushes and less so with hands.


Hi, yes, those drums are good for training. You can get clear sharp tekka-sounds of it. The doum-sound comes good too, but it may be a bit weak for solo performance. - I had a long look on these Meinl-drums. They are really handy. The only reason I didn't decide to get one was the gap around the head, what gave me personally a discomfort. (That's about five years ago. - Simply I was used to hit the rim with my wrist as a conga-player - I have free wrists now and a more floating technique from my darbuka experience.)

So, if you want to buy some new one I won't stop you.

But, to give you a good advice, let's talk on your existing drum first. - How long are you playing your Toca and why did you start it at all?

Thanks for the information, dHuGo.

This is the current drum I have by Toca:

The description reads it has a 9” head by 18” tall.  The actual exposed head diameter is 8.5” though.  Is this still considered 9”?  Is this how darbuka head sizing goes?  If so, wouldn’t this drum fall in the Sombaty size category being 9” head and 18” height?  I wonder if I would be better starting with a Classic size drum.

I have only started playing the darbuka / doumbek about a week - the Toca was a gift.  I have played drums however for about 30 years, just not so much hand drums.  I was invited to play African drums for my daughters school choir concert a couple months back and I enjoyed it very much and started my interest in hand drums.  Though I do indeed love the sound and play of the Djembe, it is the sound of the Middle East I really love - hence my current journey beginning with the darbuka.  I will surely continue with the other hand drum families, but I believe my mainstay will be the darbuka :)

Now, I have been reading a lot of good things about the drum company Gawheret El Fan.  I see some of their drums can be had for just a little more than the Meinl drums.  Would they be a better choice over the Meinl, or are they about equal in tone, playability, and build quality?

Thanks for all your help!


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