Types and Common Features of Hand Drums

Hand drums are versatile and widely used percussion instruments in many cultures worldwide. Their unique sounds and rhythms make them popular with musicians of all levels. This blog will explore different types of hand drums, their common features, and where they are for sale.

About Hand Drums

Hand drums encompass various instruments typically played by striking with the hands. These drums are known for their portability, ease of use, and ability to produce multiple sounds. The most popular hand drums include the djembe, conga, bongo, darbuka, tombak, and the increasingly popular handpan.

Common Features of Hand Drums

  1. Portability: Hand drums are usually lightweight and easy to transport, making them ideal for traveling musicians and impromptu jam sessions.
  2. Versatility: These drums can be used in various musical genres, from traditional folk music to modern fusion.
  3. Ease of Use: Unlike some other percussion instruments, hand drums do not require extensive training to produce pleasant sounds, making them accessible to beginners.
  4. Expressiveness: The tactile nature of hand drums allows players to convey a wide range of emotions and dynamics through their playing technique.

    Different Types of Hand Drums

    Hand drums come in many shapes and sizes, each with its own unique sound and playing style. Here are some of the most popular types:


    Originating from West Africa, the djembe is a goblet-shaped drum known for its wide range of tones. It is traditionally carved from a single piece of wood and topped with a goatskin drumhead.


    The conga drum, originally from Cuba, is a tall, narrow drum played with the fingers and palms. Congas are often used in Latin music and are typically played in sets of two or more.


    Bongos are a pair of small, open-bottomed drums attached to each other. They are popular in Cuban music and are played with the fingers and palms.


    A relatively new addition to the world of hand drums, the handpan is a steel drum with a unique, ethereal sound. It is played with the hands, and each handpan is tuned to a specific scale.

    Different Types of Handpans

    There are several types of handpans available, each with its own distinct features and tuning:

    1. Integral Handpan: Known for its deep, resonant tones and complex overtones.
    2. Pygmy Handpan: Characterized by its brighter, more percussive sound.
    3. Celtic Handpan: Tuned to traditional Celtic scales, offering a mystical and enchanting sound.

    Turkish Hand Drums

    Turkish hand drums are integral to Turkish music and dance. Here are some of the most popular Turkish hand drums:


    Darbuka is a goblet-shaped drum commonly used in Turkish and Middle Eastern music. Made of metal or ceramic, it produces sharp and bright sounds, and is particularly popular in belly dance music.


    Bendir is a large frame drum with a single skin head, often featuring small metal rings or cymbals on the inside. It is played with the hands and is widely used in Sufi music and Turkish folk music.


    Davul is a large double-headed drum played with a mallet and a thin stick. It is often used in Turkish folk music and during celebrations like weddings.

    Iranian Hand Drums

    Iranian hand drums play a vital role in Persian music. Here are some well-known Iranian hand drums:

    Tombak (Zarb)

    Tombak is a goblet-shaped drum, usually made of wood with a single head. It is played with the fingers and palms, producing a wide range of tones. It is central to Persian classical and folk music.


    Daf is a large frame drum with a ring of metal rings or jingles inside. It is used in Persian Sufi music and traditional ceremonies, producing a resonant and rhythmic sound.


    Dayereh is a circular frame drum with metal rings attached to the inside. It is played with the fingers and hands and is commonly used in Iranian folk music and dance.

    Hand Drums For Sale

    If you are looking to purchase a hand drum, there are many options available online and in music stores. When buying a hand drum, consider factors such as the type of drum, the material it is made from, and the sound quality. Here are some tips to help you find the perfect hand drum:

    1. Research: Take the time to learn about different types of hand drums and their unique features.
    2. Try Before You Buy: If possible, visit a music store to try out different hand drums and see which one feels and sounds best to you.
    3. Read Reviews: Look for reviews from other musicians to get an idea of the quality and performance of the hand drums you are interested in.
    4. Consider Your Budget: Hand drums can range in price from affordable to high-end. Determine your budget and look for options within that range.

    With these tips in mind, you are well on your way to finding the perfect hand drum to add to your collection.

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