[How to choose new percussion by Waywood Music]

Selecting & Buying New Percussion


[DG Zambo Cuban Cajon]The rules for selecting and buying new percussion are a little different to new drums or cymbals.

The scope of percussion is huge, much bigger than can be dealt with here, ranging from tuned classical at one extreme to 'eclectic' at the other.

Think about the sounds you already have at your disposal: will the new equipment fit in to these?  Are you looking for contrasts or sounds to complement your current set-up?

On this page, percussion has been divided into the following categories:


If you apply the following principles you won't go very far wrong:



  1. Research the models that are available and what the reviewers say about them.
  2. Drums come in a vast array of sizes and colours. Think:
    1. Will it be easy to find extra drums of the same colour, if I want to add drums later?
    2. What kind of music will I be playing?
  3. Always take someone with you who knows what they're looking for.
  4. Check the roundness of all drum shells and look for signs of damage e.g., scratches or splits. Examine the bearing edges (where the drum head rests on the shell) IF YOU CAN.
  5. Drums requiring high skin tensions should have shells and tensioning hardware which can stand up to those tensions.

  6. Listen to the drum. Is it what you're after? Listen for buzzes and rattles which may indicate problems (although they may simply be due to a loose nut, screw or tension rod).
  7. Remember that your drums will largely be played with your hands, and therefore too much volume is unlikely to be a problem. However, the sound of a drum is largely determined by the quality of its head (especially if it a natural skin head). Always go for the best quality head that you can afford. It may cost you more at first but will pay dividends in the longer term.



[Pete Engelhart custom cup chimes]To cover all of the 'toys' available would be impossible!

Once again, the major manufacturers produce very high quality goods. It is when you go for something a little bit different, perhaps from a small supplier who has less stringent quality control, that you have to be more careful.

The following list may help you through the 'maze'.

  1. With METAL INSTRUMENTS such as agogo bells and cowbells, ALWAYS check the welds or seams for signs of cracking or incompleteness. Check for rattles and buzzes. Make sure that the metal is thick enough to withstand the hitting that it will receive. There is no point buying small, thin cowbells for loud music; they often last less than one gig! Ensure that any clamps or brackets attached to these are securely welded on and that the 'thumb screw' used to secure the bell to a holder works smoothly and is not cross-threaded.
  2. With WOODEN INSTRUMENTS such as wood blocks, tambourines or vibra-slaps™ always ensure that they are not cracked or split.
  3. With SHAKERS always ensure that they are not cracked or split, AND that any cap or 'attachment' which is there to keep the filling INSIDE the shaker, is secure and does its job.
  4. With TAMBOURINES and PANDIEROS always make sure that the jingles are held in place by secure pins. Also make sure that the pins do not have sharp protrusions sticking out of either side. REMEMBER these will at some stage be hitting your hands and fingers as you play.
  5. For HAND DRUMS with NATURAL skin HEADS, check for splits or holes. Make sure that they are of a good quality (cheap, poor quality heads may split the first time you play a slap stroke!).


Waywood Music supplies a wide range of African and Brazilian percussion, cajons and the Dream range of Chinese gongs & cymbals at greatly reduced prices. See our cajons & djembes and our Chinese Gongs & Cymbals sales pages,  or contact Us for further details.


The list is almost endless. You may also like to contact Us with specific Questions.

Alternatively, you may like to contact the Percussion Manufacturers directly, or the Music Press to access reviews and 'road tests' of the equipment you're looking for.


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