Different Types of Hand Drums

Types of Hand Drums

Hand drums, also known as “drums played with hands,” are an integral part of music across the globe. From ancient tribal rhythms to modern-day beats, hand drums have found their place in the hearts of drummers and music enthusiasts alike. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the fascinating world of hand drums and different types of hand drums and help beginners find the best hand drum for their musical journey.

What is a Hand Drum?

A hand drum, as the name suggests, is a percussion instrument that is played by hitting or tapping with your hands. Unlike traditional drum kits that use sticks or mallets, hand drums rely on the natural rhythms and beats created by the drummer’s hands. These versatile instruments are essential in various musical genres, cultural traditions, and spiritual rituals around the world.

Different Types of Hand Drums

Hand drums come in a wide array of styles, shapes, and materials, each contributing to unique sounds and experiences. Let’s delve into the different types of drummers hand drums that love to play:


The Djembe is one of the most recognizable hand drums, hailing from West Africa. Its goblet-shaped body is made from a single piece of wood or a carved-out gourd, topped with a stretched goatskin head. Djembes produce rich, deep bass tones and crisp, high-pitched slaps, making them ideal for both solo performances and group drum circles. Their portability and versatility have made them a favorite among drummers of all skill levels.


Originating in Cuba, conga drums have a cylindrical shape and are made from wood, fiberglass, or even metal. These drums produce a warm, resonant sound, perfect for Afro-Cuban and Latin music. Congas are often played in sets of two or more, allowing drummers to create intricate rhythms and dynamic patterns.


Bongos are small, hand-held drums consisting of two drums connected, usually made of wood or fiberglass. One drum is larger and called the hembra (female), while the smaller drum is called the macho (male). Bongos are known for their vibrant, sharp tones and are frequently used in various Latin music styles, jazz, and even pop music.


The cajón, which means “box” in Spanish, is a box-shaped drum that originated in Peru. Drummers sit on the cajón and strike the front surface with their hands or mallets to create percussive sounds. Cajóns are a versatile choice for acoustic settings, and their portability makes them popular for busking and smaller performances.

Frame Drum

Frame drums are one of the most senior types of hand drums and have a flat, circular frame with a stretched skin surface. The player holds the frame and strikes or taps the drumhead with their fingers or palms. These drums have diverse cultural roots and are used in Middle Eastern, Celtic, and Native American music, among others.


The dhol is a double-headed drum from the Indian subcontinent. Its unique barrel shape and two different-sized heads create a rich and distinctive sound. Dhols are used in a variety of Indian and Pakistani music styles, including Bhangra and traditional folk music.


The bodhrán is a traditional Irish frame drum made of wood with a goatskin head. It’s played with a single tipper (a wooden beater) and is a vital part of Irish and Celtic music. The bodhrán’s deep, resonant sound adds a unique character to these musical traditions.

Taiko Drum

Originating in Japan, the taiko drum is known for its large size and booming sound. It’s often played in ensembles and has become popular worldwide for its powerful and rhythmic performances. Taiko drumming has a strong cultural significance and is used in various traditional and contemporary Japanese events.


The tambourine is a familiar hand drume with jingling metal discs, or zils, attached to its rim. Drummers create rhythm by shaking, striking, or tapping the tambourine’s head and jingles. It’s commonly used in various musical genres, from folk and rock to Middle Eastern and Latin music.


The udu is a clay pot drum originating from Nigeria. Its unique shape and materials give it a distinct sound reminiscent of water or the wind. Udus are often used in African and world music, and they offer a wide range of tones and textures when played.

Transitioning Between Different Types of Hand Drums

Now that we’ve explored the various types of hand drums, it’s essential to recognize that many drummers enjoy switching between these drums to expand their musical repertoire. Different hand drums offer unique sounds, and transitioning between them can add depth and variety to your drumming hands skills.

For example, starting with a djembe to learn the fundamentals of hand drumming and then moving to a cajón for a different groove can be an exciting journey for beginners. Additionally, drummers can mix and match hand drums to create innovative compositions and experiment with cross-cultural rhythms.

A “drum played with hands” is a percussion instrument where the drummer creates rhythms and beats using their bare hands instead of drumsticks or mallets. This approach allows for a more intimate and expressive connection between the musician and the hand drum instrument, producing unique and engaging sounds.

Best Hand Drums for Beginners

If you’re new to hand drumming and looking to embark on your percussion journey, selecting the right-hand drum is crucial. Here are some of the best hand drums for beginners:

  1. Djembe: Djembes are an excellent choice for beginners because they offer a wide range of tones and are relatively easy to learn. Their portability and versatility make them suitable for solo practice and group settings.
  2. Bongo: Bongos are compact, easy to transport, and great for beginners to explore basic hand drumming techniques. They are also widely used in various musical genres, so you’ll have ample opportunities to apply your skills.
  3. Cajón: The cajón’s simplicity and versatility make it a fantastic choice for beginners. Its rhythmic patterns are easy to grasp, and it’s an excellent instrument for acoustic performances.
  4. Frame Drum: Frame drums are great for beginners interested in world music and traditional styles. Their flat, circular design allows for easy hand placement, making them accessible for novice drummers.
  5. Udu: Udus provides a unique and intriguing sound that can captivate beginners. They are relatively easy to get started with, making them an exciting option for those looking to explore different textures in hand drumming.
  6. Taiko Drum: If you’re up for a more challenging but rewarding experience, learning the taiko drum can be an exhilarating journey. While it may not be the easiest choice for beginners, the sense of accomplishment in mastering this instrument is unparalleled.

Tips for Choosing Your First-Hand Drum

As you embark on your journey into the rhythmic world of hand drums, choosing the right instrument is crucial. Your first-hand drum should match your musical interests, style, and skill level. To help you make an informed decision, here are some valuable tips to consider when selecting your first-hand drum:

Determine Your Musical Interests

Before you start shopping for a hand drum, take some time to reflect on your musical interests. What kind of music do you enjoy playing or listening to? Different hand drums are best suited for specific music styles. For example, if you’re into Afro-Cuban rhythms, congas or bongos are excellent choices. If you prefer meditative and melodic sounds, a handpan might be more your style.

Consider Your Skill Level

Your level of drumming experience is a critical factor in choosing the right-hand drum. If you’re a beginner, it’s wise to start with a more accessible and forgiving instrument. Djembes, bongos, or frame drums are great options for those new to hand drumming. They are moderately easy to learn and offer a gentle learning curve.

Consider Size and Portability

The size of the hand drum you choose can greatly impact your playing experience. If you plan to travel with your drum or have limited space at home, opt for a smaller and more portable drum like Bongo or a frame drum. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a bold and commanding presence, consider larger drums like congas or taiko drums.

Budget Wisely

Hand drums come in a wide range of prices, so it’s important to establish a budget before making a purchase. Quality hand drums can be an investment, but there are also budget-friendly options available for beginners. Keep in mind that higher-priced drums often offer better craftsmanship, sound quality, and durability.

Pay Attention to Material and Construction

The materials used in the construction of the hand drum significantly impact its sound and durability. Traditional hand drums often feature animal skin drumheads, while modern options utilize synthetic materials. Wooden frames are common, but some drums, like the handpan, are made of metal. Consider what material and construction features matter most to you.

Test Before You Buy

Whenever possible, try out a hand drum before making a purchase. This allows you to feel the instrument’s weight, check the quality of the drumhead, and assess its overall condition. Playing the drum in person will help you evaluate the sound and see if it resonates with your musical sensibilities.

Seek Guidance from Experts

If you need more clarification about which hand drum to choose, feel free to seek advice from experienced drummers or music store professionals. They can provide valuable insights, recommend specific brands, and guide you toward the right instrument based on your preferences and goals.

Research and Read Reviews

In the age of the internet, there’s a wealth of information available at your fingertips. Take advantage of this by reading reviews, watching video demonstrations, and joining online forums or communities related to hand drumming. Hearing from others who have experience with the instruments you’re considering can be incredibly informative.

Trust Your Instincts

Ultimately, the best hand drum for you is the one that resonates with you on a personal level. Your connection with the instrument is vital, so trust your instincts and choose the drum that sparks your passion and inspires you to explore the world of hand drumming.

Remember that the world of hand drums is as diverse as the rhythms they produce. By considering your musical interests, skill level, and the factors mentioned above, you’ll be well on your way to selecting the perfect hand drum to kickstart your rhythmic journey. Whether you opt for the African beats of the Djembe or the melodic sounds of the handpan, your choice should reflect your passion for music and the joy of drumming with your own two hands.


What Types of Music use Hand Drums?

You may hear hand drums in almost every kind of acoustic music. Hand drums may be used with ease in a variety of genres due to their wide range of tones. For instance, the Cajon is used in jazz, flamenco, and Afro-Peruvian music. Another illustration would be the bongo, a hand drum used in Latin jazz and salsa.

What are The Different Types of Drums Sets?

There are several varieties of drum sets as well; the most common is the acoustic drum set. Nonetheless, there are several configuration and size variations for the drum set type. Most acoustic drum setups have this feature: it has a very unique cracking sound and is positioned directly in the middle of the drummer. This snare drum comes in a number of different varieties.

What are The Different Types of Percussion Instruments?

They are available in various sizes so you may use them for various melodic runs in the line. It comes with a large assortment of different percussion instruments and is stationary on the field. Glock, timpani, xylophone, marimba, drum set, bass drum, and vibes are a few of these. Additionally, a variety of additional instruments are included.


In the vibrant world of hand drums, we’ve explored an array of mesmerizing options, from the soulful beats of the Djembe to the rhythmic elegance of the Cajón. Hand drums come in all shapes and sizes, each offering a unique musical journey for drummers and enthusiasts. Our exploration of hand drum types has shed light on the diversity and richness that this genre of percussion instruments has to offer.

As we’ve uncovered the beauty of different hand drums types, it’s clear that the “drum hand” is not only a vessel of rhythm but also a portal to culture, tradition, and self-expression. Each hand drum names has its own story to tell, whether it’s the ancestral heritage of the Djembe or the spirited cadence of the Bongo. With every strike and tap, we connect with the age-old traditions and timeless sounds of these remarkable instruments.

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