Kids of all ages love a good bang on the drum; they’re energetic, loud, versatile and make a super fun activity for excitable kids who want to master the beat. Parents who love the idea of encouraging their child’s musical interest in the drums but don’t want all the noise and expense which comes with a full drum kit should certainly check out the compact and quirky bongo drums.
What Should You Know About Bongo Drums
Bongo’s, a drum of Afro-Cuban descent, is most associated with the Cuban music genre: salsa as well as jazz; they consist of two small drums, one larger than the other; the larger in Spanish is called the “fembra” whilst the smaller being the “macho”. When playing, unless you have a stand, the drums are traditionally situated just behind the knees when you are in sitting position with the fembra on the right-hand side if you are right-handed.
They’re generally small and compact enough to fit on your lap, so you don’t have to worry about them being a massive space hog in the playroom or living room and they’re also quite lightweight and very affordable. In fact, the best bongo drums for kids available today are both affordable and made with high-quality materials which make the bongo’s a great value for money gift for children.
Bongo drums can often be confused with other hand drums which are similar in design, people often group djembe’s, conga’s, doubeks and other similar percussion instruments into the bongo category when in reality, the bongo is strictly the small pair of drums you’ll see in the picture below.
Bongo drums are lightweight, affordable, compact and acoustic but you may be wondering what other reasons they are a great choice of instrument for kids.
Well to start with they have a very flavourful sound; high pitched in comparison to other drums and excluding figuring out how to position them initially, they’re very approachable and easy to get started on.
Once the kid has the instrument in front of them it doesn’t take them long to be immersed in playing around, experimenting and trying to perform a consistent beat, after that they can move on to learning techniques and skills which separates the beginner from the “bongosero” in no time!
It’s a great way to get the kids involved in music, especially if you are a parent with some musical ability like myself, the kids tap a beat on the bongo and I’ll play along with my ukulele, it makes for such a rewarding family activity! Introducing kids to music like this will help their studies in the future and open a doorway into learning advanced percussion, other instruments, and music theory.
You’ll find there are a variety of bongo drum choices available on the market, each boasting different qualities and specifications which may have you somewhat confused and so to ease your mind, take a look at the qualities we consider when reviewing the products.
- Players Age: When referring to “kids” the age ranges between 4 and 12 years old, it’s a range with a lot of variation between capabilities and preferences. An older kid would probably prefer a proper beginners bongo whereas toy varieties and other drum kits may better be suited to toddlers and younger kids.
- Players Skill: Skill isn’t directly dependant on age and so different children of the same age may have different skill levels and experience. It’s a much better choice for most children regardless of capabilities to stick to beginners bongo’s which are lighter and cheaper, perfect for experimenting and learning.
- Bongo Size and Sound: You’ll find some bongo size options is something more advanced players might want to consider. The size of the bongo’s influence the sound, but so can your own tuning of the bongo’s.
- Durability: Whether it’s a simple toy for younger children or fully-fledged bongo drums, the design and overall quality should be considered. You’ll want the toy or instrument to last for years without showing too much wear, especially if you and your child are serious about learning.
- Heads: The head is the area of the drum which is struck to make a sound and is usually made out of animal skin. Understandably there are those with an aversion to this and thankfully for you, models with synthetic skinheads are available.
- Other Variations: Some are smooth and designed without the side lugs whilst others have fancy designs on them. Other differences between models are always worth looking out for as they can still have an effect on the quality of the instrument.
Another thing you may want to consider is tuning the bongo, which requires you to have a wrench handy to tighten the lugs. The best kids bongo’s you’ll find will conveniently include one for you but you may want to be prepared to find a wrench of the correct size.
Check out the handy video included below as this World Drum Club instructor gives a tutorial on tuning the bongo drums and gives a simple first lesson to get your kid started.
Our Top Picks
RockJam Bongo Drum Set
Rockjam is a fairly recognizable brand in the music world and has a fantastic pair of bongo’s to start the reviews off. This fantastic value for money deal includes a tuning wrench and a case for your bongo’s to keep them protected and carry them between locations!
This bongo drum bundle comes at quite a low cost and so its an ideal purchase for those who want to start out with some accessories as well as the drums just in case the child is not particularly interested. The heads are a standard size; 7″ and 8″ respectively with authentic skins.
This instrument looks nice with its glossy wood finish and it’s also lightweight which is to be expected from bongo’s. A child might find it a bit difficult at first to handle the instrument properly, but as mentioned above you could just put it on a surface, the floor or as most professionals would suggest: buy a stand for them.
Kalos by Cecilio Bongo Drum
This next pair of bongos not only look really nice but are an effective way of avoiding that discomfort with resting the bongo’s behind the knees, you would, unfortunately, be sacrificing being able to tune it though. Some may find this a blessing as they don’t have to worry about having to tune the bongo’s and that is true.
The Cecilio Bongo Drum is at a great price such a high quality make with rawhide skins and a sleek looking, durable natural wood body. This drum is slightly smaller than the previous review with a 6″ macho and 7″ fembra and is as a result slightly higher in pitch sound but a fantastic sound nonetheless.
Junior Beginners Wooden Bongos Drums
Another set of bongo’s which handily include a tuning wrench, it’s also a very low priced instrument which kids would love. There are several choices of color including blue, green, red and black and natural so you can really add a bit of personality to the purchase, possibly with your kids favorite color.
The 7″ and 8″ heads are real buckskin and the bottom bracing is heavy-duty steel, ensuring this instrument can resist being buckled from accidental drops. Whilst this instrument is affordable and seems great value for money, it doesn’t produce the best sound and I found it lacked resonance in comparison to other products.
GP Percussion B2 Pro-Series Tunable Bongos
If you’re looking for some bongo’s which are made with quality in mind than look no further than this set as even though it says they’re made for pro players, they are an inexpensive yet high-quality bongo set which will last for years and produced a marvelous sound.
It has a 6″ and 7″ head both made from authentic animal skin and a beautiful hickory wood body sporting five grooves which add to the cool appeal. There is a light brown and dark brown variant on offer so pick which one you find most attractive.
A tuning wrench is included with this drum as well as a small bag to keep the tuning wrench in that also attaches to the drum, which is fantastic because believe me, they are really easy to lose.
Remo Kids Percussion Bongo Drum
You may have a younger child who is maybe not as serious about drumming but is looking for a toy that still produces a great sound and ultimately simulates a drum for the child. The Remo Kids Percussion Bongo Drum is a perfect drum for kids exploring the world of music for the first time because of it’s inviting design and simplistic kid-friendly charm.
The drum body is made out of what Remo calls “Acousticon shells” which is a fiber-like material made from 100% recycled wood. The heads are synthetic so good news for vegan parents but as these drums are more of a toy, the sound they produce is nothing similar to the real instrument.
Tosnail Kids Bongo Drum
Another bongo set for younger children which is very much similar to the Remo bongo drums in that it has an adorable and inviting design is made from soft materials and has synthetic heads which are 6″ and 7″.
The main difference here is that this set also comes with a strap, two mallets, and a travel case! This is fantastic value for such a pleasant toy drum set for toddlers and kids and it’s not just because of those included extras but this drum does have a better sound than you would expect.
It’s the animal design that really brings this drum to life and is what draws kids attention to this toy, they can then put on their favorite Perez Prado record and jam along.