Top Bongos – Guide & Comparison
Looking for the best bongos out there? If you’re short on time, you can find all about the top bongos on the market from this paragraph. Our team has carefully examined some of the most popular bongos that are in demand right now and concluded that an excellent choice is the Tycoon Percussion Ritmo. These bongos have a great, natural look. They’re also very durable and you will be able to play them a long while. They’re also lightweight, which is an essential feature for beginners. In the unfortunate case that you can’t find our first recommendation for sale, try the Toca Synergy Series.
Our Top Choice
The rawhide heads give these bongos a great look, along with the naturally colored quality siam oak wood shell. They are sturdy and strong and that is mostly due to the center block placed between the two bongos. The tuning system is efficient and easy to use and that is a great feature for beginners.
In terms of durability, users have said that the heads are not that good and, if used for longer periods, they are prone to breaking.
An excellent choice for beginners, these bongos will provide a traditional feeling while still being accessible to everyone.
Due to the stand that they come with, these popular bongos are very stable and will provide a good learning platform for the kids that use them. The tuning is simple and the hardware makes the instrument have a consistent sound. The rawhide heads offer a warm tone and comfort while playing.
Being made for beginners or intermediate players, some complain that they are heavier than expected and thus hard to play.
An intermediate player will appreciate these bongos the most, due to the quality of the heads and the consistent tone they offer.
Unlike other bongos, the shells of these ones haven’t been drilled and they are made of plastic, thus they are capable of offering a warm tone and a full sound. The materials that they are made of ensure durability and give a modern feeling at the same time. Rounded edges will make life a lot more pleasant for the player.
The natural skin head sounds good at first but if it is intensely played for a long period it can get cracked rather fast and lose its tonality.
This set of bongos has a modern look to it but at the same time, it can provide a traditional sound and a comfortable time for the player.
9 Best Bongos (Reviews) in 2019
We have spent a lot of time analyzing the good and the bad aspects of the best bongos on the market, we’ve consulted experts’ opinions, we researched sales figures and we read the customers’ reviews. That is how we found the information needed to write the details about some models that we consider to be good bongos. Here they are.
- 1. Tycoon Percussion TB-8BM Ritmo Series 6″ & 7″ Mini Bongos
- 2. Toca Synergy Series Bongo Set Amber
- 3. Meinl HB50BK Bongo, Black, 6 1/2 inch and 7 1/2 inch
- 4. Meinl 6 3/4-inch and 8-inch Bongo
- 5. Remo KD-5400-01 Kids Bongo Set
- 6. Latin Percussion LP811002 Matador Wood Bongos
- 7. Latin Percussion Aspire Walnut Bongo
- 8. Latin Percussion LP810204 City Bongos
- 9. Lp M301 Matador Custom Bongos Vintage Starburst
- Yearly Guide & Report
1. Tycoon Percussion TB-8BM Ritmo Series 6″ & 7″ Mini Bongos
The Tycoon Percussion brand is known for producing high-quality bongos for beginners. In terms of looks, this pair is flawless, with skins that offer a great natural color and texture and the hardware being black and powder coated.
When discussing build quality, they are very well made, better than average bongos. The block placed in the center to hold both bongos is very firm and sturdy. The shells are made of Siam oak wood, feel durable, and have a great look. Every part of them is smooth, polished, and carefully finished.
They can be tuned fairly easy and provide consistency and they will last you probably years, even if used often. The sound is not a dull one, as is the case with plastic bongos. Because they are so easy to play and they last a good time, these bongos can be used by beginners and are well suited for more advanced players.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($64.99)
2. Toca Synergy Series Bongo Set Amber
Being made by creative artisans in Thailand and built of wood from the same region, this set of bongos provides an excellent platform for learning musicians. They are well made and should be a good choice for kids.
The bongo heads are 6 and 6 ½ inches and are thus not too large. The hardware of this model is made of plywood and has a black coating, giving it a sturdy appearance. Due to the quality materials used, the percussion is a very decent one. Because they come with a stand, they are easy to play and more stable and they represent a sturdy instrument.
If needed, you can adjust the head tuning as you want and you can rest assured that the bongos won’t lose their strength and stability once you tune them differently. They, unfortunately, don’t come with a bag of their own so if you want to keep them better protected, you will need to purchase a separate one.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($57.31)
3. Meinl HB50BK Bongo, Black, 6 1/2 inch and 7 1/2 inch
Although they feature a very stylish and modern look, these bongos are well known for their traditional sound. The plastic body is very sturdy, while the head is covered in natural skin. Built of an interesting choice of materials, these are some lightweight percussion instruments that offer a traditional sound and at the same time the certainty that they last a long time.
Experienced players will know that when hitting the edges, you can get some sore fingers, and that is why these edges are rounded, to offer extra comfort while playing. A tuning wrench is included in the package, so you’ll be capable of adjusting the bongos any time you want.
Because they can be played either from the lap or on a widely used bongo stand, these bongos are suitable for most situations, including recording sessions and acoustic sets. And if you perform a live show, maybe you should consider getting something to sit on, a chair or a drum throne, while you play the bongos.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($69.99)
4. Meinl 6 3/4-inch and 8-inch Bongo
These bongos, that are part of Meinl’s Marathon Series, are ideal for the beginners that want to achieve more than they would with regular bongos. They can represent an affordable alternative for the more experienced players because the quality of their sound is adequate enough even for professional play.
They have a patented suspension system that ensures stability. The fact that their shells haven’t been drilled results in a better sound, maximizing the resonance of the bongos and providing a warmer tone. The fact that they are made of rubberwood also helps with this aspect.
The bongos are easily tunable and with them, you will receive a tuning key as well. An accessory pouch is also included in the package, as well as tune-up oil. You can pair these bongos with other Meinl products too, including the Meinl Professional Bongo Stand that will allow seated musicians to enjoy playing them.
If you’re a professional and want to record yourself playing, you will probably need some good studio recording microphones too. Or, if you’re playing more than one percussion instrument, you can choose the option of getting some overhead drum mics.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($149.99)
5. Remo KD-5400-01 Kids Bongo Set
To introduce bongos to kids, the creators of this model have designed their bongos with a rainforest graphic that’s fun and colorful. It’s a good choice for kids of age 3 or more. This is a set of two pre-tuned bongos, one pitched high and the other low.
It’s a small sized set, one bongo being 5 inches, while the other 6, and it provides a playful opportunity for kids to learn the basics of rhythm. If you want your child to learn more, you can get a beginner drum set for him or her; and if you don’t want to spend too much on that, look for a beginner drum kit under 500.
The shells are made of Acousticon, a material used by Remo, constructed of multiple thin plies of fully recycled wood and laminated under pressure. Each such shell is given a special coating to ensure a great tone and awesome acoustics.
In terms of drumheads, these ones are made of Skyndeep, another trademark of Remo and it means that the drumheads consist of polyester that has been modified to provide a warm sound and more volume.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($38)
6. Latin Percussion LP811002 Matador Wood Bongos
This set of bongos is created by Latin Percussion, a brand known for delivering quality products when it comes to percussion instruments. Showcasing traditional rims on the outside, the shells of these bongos are made of Siam oak of the highest quality. The durability of the wood ensures that they will stay in shape and sound just as good for years to come.
The sizes of the heads are 7-1/4” and 8-5/5” and they produce a crisp, rich sound when struck. The bottom piece, where the bongos sit, is made of aluminum and it’s sturdy. Although robust, the Matador bongos are lightweight enough to ensure a comfortable experience for the person that plays them.
Design wise, this set represents a traditional style, and the same can be said about the sound it produces. Although it gives a classic feel, it also offers innovative and modern construction features that set it apart from the competition.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($179.48)
7. Latin Percussion Aspire Walnut Bongo
As other Latin Percussion instruments, these bongos also have their shells made of carefully selected Jamjuree wood. They also have natural rawhide heads, an aspect that should offer a more traditional sound to the instruments. To add to that traditional element, they feature a natural finish that is very appealing.
The heads sizes are 6-3/4 and 8 inches and they offer enough room for more experienced musicians to play. Despite the traditional look, the manufacturers decided to add chromed hardware parts. This adds a bit of a modern feel to the bongos and an image of sturdiness.
Due to the quality rawhide on the heads, the bongos produce a mellow tone and a sound that can be characterized as clear and powerful. The black powder-coated side plates and rims are curved so that the musician has a better time playing the bongo.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($112)
8. Latin Percussion LP810204 City Bongos
These bongos deliver a consistently good sound from Afro-Cuban music styles to Salsa and many more. They are not only limited to Latin styles and can be used for small gigs or acoustic sessions if wanted. Beginners and intermediate players will benefit the most from using these because of how easy it is to achieve the wanted sounds with them.
They are a good option because of the rich tone that they provide. The quality Siam oak wood used in manufacturing them offers a vast dynamic range in terms of sound and a sharp attack. In terms of appearance, they can come in a dark wood tone, a vintage sunburst, or a natural look.
The rawhide heads will let you sense the feeling of playing a traditional instrument and will offer the sound amplitude that you want to hear. Black powder-coated hardware pieces offer a great look and sturdiness to this set.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($82.71)
9. Lp M301 Matador Custom Bongos Vintage Starburst
When you analyze the materials that come into the composition of these bongos, you will see how much attention the manufacturers put in each product. The shells of these ones are made from kiln-dried Siam oak, and due to the process they go through, they make a sturdy base for the bongos.
The heads are 7-¼ inches and 8-⅝ inches respectively and they are made of hand-selected rawhide. Their aspect and the fact that the shells are painted in a vintage sunburst design, give the bongos a classic vibe.
But don’t be fooled by their classic look, the bongos are still durable, especially due to the steel bottoms. The shells have a ribbed design, so that increases the bongo’s strength too.
Using the tuning wrench included in the package, you will be able to finely adjust the bongos when needed. If you wish to expand your collection of percussion instruments, the manufacturers also offer a matching pair of congas.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($145.99)
Yearly Guide & Report
You should not only consider appearance when getting a bongo. Have a closer look at the hide on the head, and try to see how lasting it is. As bongo reviews suggest, check the shells, see if you like the material and check if it has the acoustic properties you want from it. To help you find the perfect bongos for your needs, we’ve written a short guide in which we detail what you should be looking for.
Wood, metal or something else?
Different materials offer a distinct sound, more or less durability, and ultimately different experiences. That is why it’s important to know that bongo shells can be manufactured from a number of different fabrics.
One of the most used materials when making bongos is wood. Oakwood is most commonly utilized because this was the material of choice in Cuba when bongos started being popular. Modern bongos can use other types of wood like ash or mahogany.
Compared to other types of bongos, the ones made of wood are capable of producing a deeper sound, but the models that use heavier types of wood are more prone to offering sharper tones.
Ceramic bongo shells are produced as an alternative and they offer a different sound and shape. They resemble a bowl and have certain advantages over their counterparts. One of these is that they react better to changes in the environment such as humidity and temperature. Surprisingly, they are easy to repair if damaged. The sound they produce is one that has a deep tone.
A new addition to the market is represented by metallic bongos. The sound that they produce is distinctive, somehow resembling that of a snare drum and that is why they are not really used in pieces of music where classic bongos would do best. If you want to get a metallic bongo, you can also pair it with a tambourine for extra effect.
Lastly, fiberglass bongos are the newest type, and also the kind of bongos that have become the most popular. This is because, unlike bongos with wooden shells, these ones don’t warp over time and are very resistant to corrosion and humid environments. They are considered to be cheap bongos and deliver a sound close to the wooden models.
Rawhide or synthetic heads?
The shells, however, are not the only essential parts of the bongo. Heads also play an important role. Rawhide heads have been the norm for many years. To ensure that you purchase a bongo with a good rawhide head, make sure to check if the skin is evenly colored. Uniformity means the head is consistently thick and doesn’t have weak spots.
The quality of the sound can be affected by uneven heads. Also, pay attention to the weather when using a rawhide bongo. In a warm environment the hide tightens and produces a higher pitch, so be careful when tuning the bongos.
If you don’t want to worry about the weather, you should try getting a bongo with a synthetic head. The synthetic models are mass produced from man-made fabrics and are not affected by changes in warmth or humidity. They are more convenient because they come already stretched and mounted onto a frame. However, they do not offer the traditional feel and sound that some prefer.
Your experience and preference
Of course, as is the case with many other objects, when purchasing bongos you will take into account your personal preferences and the experience you have with using the instrument. The best beginner bongos are smaller, and that is because they are easier to handle, and they don’t require a huge investment while still offering a good experience.
Experienced players, on the other hand, have a tougher choice to make and they do that based on how they want their bongos to sound. Traditional bongos can be required for playing Afro-Cuban music styles, while bongos with metal shells can be an alternative for those looking for a different, powerful sound.