6 Best Conga Drums 2022

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Best Conga Drums

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Conga drums provide incredible rhythmic and deep tones to add to musical settings. If you’re a percussionist, you’ll be no stranger to playing these tall Cuban drums.

If you’re new to conga playing, you may be wondering what to look for when buying them or how to tell which ones are good or not.

Here’s a list of a few of the best congas on the market to choose from.

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Latin Percussion Aspire Wood Conga Set – Best Overall

Latin Percussion Aspire Wood Conga Set

The Latin Percussion Aspire Wood Conga Set (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is an incredible set of congas that can be used both casually and professionally. The walnut finish is the first notable thing about these, and it sets the tone of them being warm, deep-sounding congas.

They have 2-ply jamjuree shells, which isn’t a commonly used wood for congas. LP has used this kind of wood for these to be environmentally friendly, which is cool! The wood is also kiln-dried, which means that the shell doesn’t expand and contract as much as other wooden congas do.

The kiln-dried wood keeps the congas in tune for an incredibly long amount of time.

These congas sound incredible, having a warm fundamental tone with a deep impact. Latin Percussion’s EZ Curve rims make them feel amazing to play as well. They’re designed with these to protect your hands from strain, allowing you to play for hours on end.

The hardware is coated with black powder, giving it all a dark appearance. The lugs are thick, making the congas feel a lot more pristine.

This conga set comes with a heavy-duty mounting stand. I’m surprised at how high it can be raised while still remaining sturdy. The only thing I don’t like about it is that the base is black while the upper half is a natural metal color. I’d prefer it to have a single color all throughout. The cosmetics are just a nit-pick, though.

Overall, these are amazing congas that I highly suggest anyone get.

Sizes: 10” x 28” and 11” x 28”

Drumhead Materials: Rawhide

Shell Material: Siam Oak

Pearl Elite Series Oak Tumba – Premium Option

Pearl Elite Series Oak Tumba

The Pearl Elite Series Oak Tumba (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is a single conga drum option from Pearl. It’s a tumba drum, meaning it’s 12.5”.

The Pearl Elite Series congas have that name for a very good reason, as these are some of the best-sounding conga drums on the market. The Thai oak shell gives this conga an incredibly warm and resonant tone that is full of richness and depth.

Pearl designs these congas with a process called spline-reinforced construction. They basically add extra joints to the shell that makes it thicker and a lot more durable. It’s for this reason that I’d say that this is the most durable conga on this list.

For the rim, this conga has Pearl’s Contour Crown rim. It’s a rounded rim that is very comfortable to play on. It’s also easy on the hands. You also get Pearl’s Self-Aligning Washer system which makes the conga easy to tune.

Congas aren’t the easiest instruments in the world to tune, so it’s always great when a company makes the process easier for you through some sort of construction technique.

The hardware on the conga is polished steel. It looks fantastic paired with the natural wood color of the shell. The conga doesn’t come with a stand to mount it, so you’ll need to get that separately if you’d like to raise the height.

These Pearl Elite Series congas come with a high price tag, but they’re well worth it. Just be ready for that cost to add up if you decide to buy a few of them.

Size: 12.5” x 30”

Drumhead Material: Rawhide

Shell Material: Thai Oak

Cosmic Percussion Conga Set – Best Budget Option

Cosmic Percussion Conga Set

The Cosmic Percussion Conga Set (Sweetwater) is an excellent set of congas for beginner players who aren’t looking to spend a lot. While this conga set costs a bit more than very cheap congas, I’d recommend staying clear of those as they don’t have any great tones.

These Cosmic Percussion congas are the most affordable congas I know of that still have decent tones. Also, you won’t find better value for your money from any other set compared to this one, considering that it comes with a pair of bongos as well.

These congas have Siam Oak shells, and they have deep and impactful tones. The downside of their sound is that the drums aren’t as dynamically responsive as higher-end congas. They’re also a lot harder to tune.

I love that they’re lightweight and a bit smaller than most other congas. It makes them easier to transport. It also makes them easier for students to play.

These congas would be my top recommendation for a school band that needs to add percussion to their lineup.

The black hardware mixed with the black and red finish looks incredible. While wooden conga finishes are typically most people’s preference, the tasteful design here is enough to convince me that these look awesome.

The included mounting stand isn’t the heaviest duty stand around, but it holds these light congas up securely. I’d just suggest not using them for heavier congas.

Sizes: 9” x 26” and 10” x 26”

Drumhead Materials: Rawhide

Shell Material: Siam Oak

Latin Percussion City Series Congas

Latin Percussion City Series Congas

The Latin Percussion City Series Congas (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is another excellent pair of congas from Latin Percussion. The City Series includes all of LP’s Siam Oak congas and bongos, so these congas allow you to get all the wanted features from LP while having the classic shells that you may be used to.

I love the finish on these congas. You get a hint of a natural wood finish, but it’s elevated a step further by having what is known as a vintage burst. The dark wooden color in the center fades to black at the top and bottom.

The black EZ curve rims pair very nicely with the finish, and they have the same benefit I mentioned earlier of being incredibly comfortable to play on. The black finish of the included hardware stand also pairs perfectly with the finish on the congas.

In terms of sound, these congas are deep and bellowing. I think they sound much better than what you’d expect from congas at this price point.  They just don’t resonate as much as high-end congas do.

Overall, I’d say that these are an excellent mid-range set of congas. They’d work fine in professional settings. You’d just need to tune them brilliantly. They’re a perfect choice for new conga players looking for a good set to learn on.

Sizes: 10” x 28” and 11” x 28”

Drumhead Materials: Rawhide

Shell Material: Siam Oak

Meinl Percussion Headliner Series Conga Pair

Meinl Percussion Headliner Series Conga Pair

The Meinl Percussion Headliner Series Conga Pair (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) look slightly different from what we’ve looked at so far, but that’s because each conga has its own basket stand. These congas have the same sounds and structures, with a few aspects that may lead you to choose them over any others.

These congas have Siam oak shells, and they’re full of projection. I’ve found that they project more than most of the congas that we’ve mentioned so far, which is their first benefit.

The other benefit is that they come with basket stands. Basket stands take up more space than tripod stands, but they allow you to position these Meinl congas at a variety of angles. They’re essential if you want to position the congas facing away from you to play them.

The tuning rods are 8mm, which means they’re incredibly thick and durable. Thicker tuning rods are always better, and it tells you that you’re going to have an easy time tuning these congas. They’ll also stay in tune for quite long.

Meinl knocked it out of the park with these congas. They’re a professional set at a reasonable cost, and the basket stands are an excellent bonus. If you want a set of high-quality, natural wood congas, these will be an epic choice to go with.

Sizes: 11” x 28” and 12” x 28”

Drumhead Materials: Rawhide

Shell Material: Siam Oak

Meinl Percussion Mini Conga

Meinl Percussion Mini Conga

The Meinl Percussion Mini Conga (compare prices on Sweetwater and Amazon) is the wildcard option for this list. It’s a very small conga that sounds and looks quite different from standard ones.

While it may seem toy-like, I found it to be far from that. It has an 11-inch depth, which allows it to produce a fairly strong tone that sings out relatively well.

The diameter is only 4.5”, making it hard to play with your palms. So, you’ll mainly need to play this conga with your fingers. The size makes it feel like you’re playing a bongo drum, but the sound that comes out is a lot deeper.

The conga is made with all the same techniques as Meinl’s full-sized congas, so it’s still a high-quality instrument that is durable.

This isn’t something I’d suggest getting if you’re looking for congas to perform professionally with, but it’s an excellent instrument to have in your percussion collection. You can use it for songs that need the deep and resonant tones of congas but require something slightly higher in pitch.

It’s incredibly affordable, so you can get a few of these Meinl Mini congas to have a larger setup to use.

I love that you get three finish options, which include Wine Red, Vintage Wine Barrel, and Natural. They all look great, and they cater to varying preferences.

The size of this conga also makes it an excellent starting conga for a small child. Since congas are so big, they aren’t instruments that kids can learn until they’re big enough to stand above them. This mini conga is an excellent solution to that.

Size: 4.5” x 11”

Drumhead Materials: Rawhide

Shell Material: Siam Oak

What To Look For In Conga Drums

Price

While conga drums have a relatively broad price range between entry-level and professional ones, you’ll be glad to know that the range isn’t as high as many other instruments. Since congas are single drums, the cost of making them isn’t as high as making something like a drum kit.

However, you should be aware of the price differences of congas and why they cost a certain amount. The more you spend on them, the better quality you’ll get out of what you purchased.

Cheap conga drums don’t sound amazing. They have the expected low tones, but they sound very flat and muted. Some cheap conga drums don’t even give you more than a single tone, no matter where you play them with your hands.

Higher-priced conga drums have better sound quality, and they’re a lot more responsive to all kinds of dynamic playing. You’ll hear fullness of tone when playing lightly with your fingers, and that tone will stretch out even more when playing loudly with the palms of your hands.

Apart from having better sound quality, higher-priced congas all last a lot longer. They have better construction quality, and the heads used on them are very durable. The durability and better build quality ensure that the congas stay in tune for a lot longer.

Shell Material and Construction

All congas are either made from wood or fiberglass. All wooden congas have warm and round tones, while fiberglass congas are a lot louder with more attack when you strike them.

Fiberglass congas aren’t very common, so most of the congas you’ll find have wooden shells. While all wooden congas have warm tones, different woods have subtleties to them.

These subtleties are often difficult to distinguish, but they’re noticeable if you become accustomed to certain sounds. Certain woods are also more durable than others, making the congas last a lot longer.

The most common types of woods you’ll find congas being made from are Siam Oak, American Ash, and Beech.

You should also check the construction of congas when buying them. You have the heads, the rims, and the tuning lugs.

All congas will either have rawhide or synthetic heads. The differences between rawhide and synthetic heads are similar to wooden and fiberglass shells. Rawhide heads are warm and more common, while synthetic heads have more attack.

Higher-quality congas have thicker tuning lugs that keep them in tune for longer. So, make sure to check that out when looking to buy a pair.

When it comes to rims, you should look for congas that have rounded ones. Flat rims are more traditional, but they’re not easy on your hands.

Size

The word conga actually refers to a drum that is 11.75”. Conga drums of different sizes have separate names. However, conga drums have become the name associated with all sizes, and you’ll find conga drums of all sizes.

For interest’s sake, here are the other names of the drums with their respective sizes:

  • Requinto – 9.75”
  • Quinto – 11”
  • Tumba – 12.5”
  • Super Tumba – 14”

Many conga drums won’t be advertised using those names, so you should simply look at the sizes when deciding which congas you want.

The larger a conga drum is, the deeper it will sound. It will also be heavier and harder to carry around.

Number of Conga Drums

When buying congas, you’ll see that most of them come in pairs. Having a pair of them is the most common setup for percussionists to use. However, you shouldn’t feel limited to that.

It’s possible to use a single conga to play a multitude of different rhythmic backings. It’s also possible to have a setup that includes five conga drums.

Just note that the conga pairs are typically the purchases that have the most value for money. Single congas can get very expensive, especially when you buy many of them for your setup.

I’d suggest getting a pair at first and then buying single congas to add to your setup if you need them.

Hardware Stands

Some congas come included with stands to mount them. These stands elevate the congas in the air, allowing them to resonate a bit more.

There’s a bit of a debate over whether you need to put congas on stands, as all of them can sit securely on the floor without wobbling around due to their shell thickness.

I think the biggest benefit of putting congas on stands is that you can position their height in a way that is comfortable to play when you’re standing.

If the congas are on the floor, you have no control over how high they’re positioned, so you’ll need to find a chair that is the perfect height for them.

The two types of stands you get for congas are dual tripod stands and single basket stands. Tripod stands need two congas attached to them, whereas basket stands can hold single congas.

The benefit of a tripod stand is that it can hold two congas at the same time. The benefit of a basket stand is that you can adjust the angle of the single conga that is resting in it. You can’t adjust the conga angles with tripod stands.

Best Conga Drum Brands

Want to make sure that you’re getting a reliable conga from a trusted brand? Check these out.

Latin Percussion

Latin Percussion is one of the most popular percussion brands in the music industry. The company has made thousands of percussion instruments over the years that have been used by musicians all over the world.

If you want a trusted set of congas that are reliable and long-lasting, you can never go wrong with a set of LPs.

Meinl Percussion

Meinl Percussion is a high-end percussion brand that makes pristine quality percussion instruments. They have a few lines of congas that cater to every budget, so you have plenty of choices when looking for Meinl congas.

Pearl

Pearl is primarily a drum kit brand, but they produce some amazing percussion instruments that have proven to last decades.

The Pearl company is always pushing the boundaries of innovation, and you’ll find a bit of that with their conga drums.

Top Conga Drums, Final Thoughts

After deciding how many conga drums you want, your next decision will be to purchase congas based on their shell structure, size, and sound.

Pick a few conga drums that you like and do focused listening tests to see which ones you like the most.

If you’re going to use the congas to play gigs, make sure to get solid carry bags to keep them safe while transporting them.

P.S. Remember though, none of what you've learned will matter if you don't know how to get your music out there and earn from it. Want to learn how to do that? Then get our free ‘5 Steps To Profitable Youtube Music Career' ebook emailed directly to you!

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