Bongos are small drums and are one of the most well-known instruments used in Latin music. The main advantage of bongos is that unlike drum sets, they are portable and can be easily carried from one place to another. This is because of their light weight and diminutive size. They are a member of the percussion instruments family, and create exciting and danceable beats, whether played alone or with a musical band. Moreover, they are played in almost all kinds of music. Unlike most musical instruments, they are perdurable enough, and also require very low maintenance. Due to their unique sound, they are largely included in drum sets as percussion instruments. If you want to play bongos like a professional, you inevitably need to have the knowledge and understanding of rhythm.
Construction and Design of Bongos
Bongos comprise two small drums; the 'macho', which is smaller, and the 'hembra', which is a bit bigger. Both the drums are joined by a bridge. They are normally manufactured using oak or mahogany, with alloy lugs and rims. A majority of bongos are manufactured from wood, but there are a few companies which make fiberglass models. The heads are usually made from animal skins.
Purchasing Your First Set of Bongos
Bongos are easily available in local music instruments stores. You may get confused looking at the variety of bongos, but simply keep in mind that while buying your first set of bongos, do not choose the most expensive ones, as you would still be in the learning stage. Generally, expensive ones would be heavier than their inexpensive counterparts. It is recommended that beginners choose the most inexpensive ones.
Initial Step in Playing Drums
Learning to play the bongos is one of the first steps that you may take if you want to play the drums. The rhythm played on the bongos is very useful for the player in getting acquainted with the precise beat. If you directly try to learn to play the drums, in most cases, you would not get the appropriate hold on the drum beats. But if you learn to play bongos first, you can easily play the beginning beats on a drum set.
Tips on Playing the Bongos
You need to comfortably sit on the edge of a chair with no arms. Hold the bongos securely in-between your knees. It is very important to limber your fingers and thumb before playing. The order in which the bongos are supposed to be played depends on if the player is left handed or right handed. If he is right handed, it is better to place the 'macho' on the left hand side, and vice versa. If right handed, start playing the 'hembra' with the index finger of the right hand, and the smaller drum with the fingers on the left hand. Decide on a beat, and start playing in an even rhythm. When the rhythm bar is about to end, hit a roll on the smaller drum using both hands. You need to be creative in trying your hands on different rhythmic beat patterns and formats.
The way bongos are played predominately depends on how skilled the player is. After you are familiarized with various rhythmic patterns, put on a song and play along with the beats. I hope this article would've guided you in getting to know the fundamentals of the skill.