Anybody use a conga?

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I'm thinking of bringing one out. I have a set of LP Aspire congas that I never use anymore. I purchased them for a recording session. I haven't used them since 2007. I really have no desire to play congas with my bare hands, but darn if they don't make an interesting tom sound. I set just the smaller one up, no stand even, and played it with my left stick. I really, really liked it. My apologies to true conga players, for hitting it with a stick.

I could get used to using one. It provides a refreshing but familiar contrast to tom runs. It shakes things up for sure. I could fit it inside my existing footprint, which is crucial.

Curious if anyone sets one up with their kit.

Anyone?
 

GeoB

Gold Member
I set up bongos. I got that from Weckle. He also uses a Djembe. Natural skins are going to nag you tuning wise. But synthetics are available from Remo. I use them on conga and bongo and my drums remain in tune throughout every weather extreme and radical jumps in humidity.
 

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
Yes, congas and bongos add a great deal of character to a drum set.

Digital drums provide great conga and bongo sounds. A friend of mine
uses a digital pad programmed with conga and bongo sounds. It works great!


.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
I've played congas on a handful of recordings, but never had the need or desire to add them to the kit.

Bermuda
 

Morrisman

Platinum Member
There's a Latin specialist around town who sometimes plays a samba with right hand on the kit (with a stick) and left hand on a pair if congas (no stick). Sounds amazing, like a whole group of players. Really energetic, loud, fast samba grooves.
 

Nate'sKit

Senior Member
Blasphemers.

As someone who's studied and played AfroCuban percussion for about 20 years, here's my take. Bearing in mind that I started out with a show and two day workshop with these folks.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OhsU9UcdeNQ

That ain't no drum circle folks. There is a long tradition that informs that music, (and it's derivatives such as Son, Salsa, Songo, and Timba) not to mention that thing called clave.

So I'm out at a show and see some tumbadoras or bongos and I get kind of expectant and hopefully excited and am usually let down. Either they have no clue period or they sound like a kit drummer. Every once in a great while someone knows the strokes but usually they are just flailing their hands in the general direction of the skins. You really have to learn how to use your hands to push and pull those sounds out of the drums. In the folkloric traditions, you play one drum and it would be pretty boring if you didn't know how to coax many colors and shades out of it wouldn't it.

I was sitting in with this Funk band once - having a good old time too. The kit player and I really worked together nice. The groove was with us that night. - and Mr. cool guy comes up in between sets and tells me how awesome he is on congas. I let him sit behind my three tumbadoras and then leaned my arms on two of them. He lasted about 15 seconds.

And please y'all. Do not play Santana without learning how. Santana's music follows the rules. Clave: learn it be it. That's not just for the percussionists either. There is a local Santana tribute band that wouldn't know clave if it bit them on the ass. They go into a drum jam and it sounds like a bunch of drum circle hippies.

So do what you want and have fun. Hit your poor drums with sticks and use plastic heads. :) Just be aware that there's this whole other world out there.
 

Nate'sKit

Senior Member
I set up bongos. I got that from Weckle. He also uses a Djembe. Natural skins are going to nag you tuning wise. But synthetics are available from Remo. I use them on conga and bongo and my drums remain in tune throughout every weather extreme and radical jumps in humidity.
I am not anti plastic skins, just wont use them myself. I hate the way they feel. On my hands.

It's just that you all make it sound like such a burden to use natural heads when it's not. If the temperature and humidity are stable the heads are stable. If temp and humidity change you tweak them. You can eventually learn to compensate ahead of time. "It's going to get humid in here from all of the people breathing and sweating when the place fills up. So I'm going to tune these a little high and they will be right where I need them.

OMG, I have to tune my drums down when I'm done and tune them again when I want to play again. Maybe Gibson will come up with some kind of digital tuning thingy so my life wont be so hard.
 

Numberless

Platinum Member
I don't think Larry is talking about playing traditional Cuban music tho, just to use the drum as another sound source, which is cool with me. I've seen various drummers over here integrate timbales and congas with their kits to great effect. Obviously down here in Puerto Rico latin music is a big, big deal so the clave police shows up from time to time to make sure it's 2-3 or 3-2 but I honestly don't think it's that important outside of traditional latin music. I agree with Nate that it's nice if people were at least aware that the tumbadoras (conga's original name) come from a very rich tradition.
 

Nate'sKit

Senior Member
I don't think Larry is talking about playing traditional Cuban music tho, just to use the drum as another sound source, which is cool with me. I've seen various drummers over here integrate timbales and congas with their kits to great effect. Obviously down here in Puerto Rico latin music is a big, big deal so the clave police shows up from time to time to make sure it's 2-3 or 3-2 but I honestly don't think it's that important outside of traditional latin music. I agree with Nate that it's nice if people were at least aware that the tumbadoras (conga's original name) come from a very rich tradition.

I usually find it more exciting and interesting when someone knows AfroCuban music and throws some of that into another genre where appropriate, even if it's just a fill. That's what I try to do.

There's really no such thing as 3-2 or 2-3 clave. Clave started with the big bang and you just jump on it at the 3 side or the 2 side and enjoy the ride as fits your needs at the moment. :)

But seriously folks, I don't subscribe to the whole 2-3, 3-2 thing. Clave is clave and you start (Son and Rumba clave) on the 3 side or the 2 side. Semantics, I know, but I think it's better to think about it as a whole instead of two pieces. But then again, I often count clave or the 6/8 bells/claves in two instead of 4 depending on whatever.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
My apologies.

I didn't come up in a Latin environment. I know next to nothing about Afro Cuban music. I really like the tone of congas, it's just that simple. I think I could incorporate it successfully in my playing, granted in a totally non traditional fashion.

If I offend the real conga players, it's not my intention. I don't feel it's blasphemous to use an instrument outside of it's historical usage. Granted, nothing I do on it could be construed as me trying to fake Latin stuff, I'm not good enough to even fake it. I just like how it adds a breath of fresh air to tom work, using the conga as a tom.

I think I'm walking through Hell in a gasoline suit with this thread.
 

GeoB

Gold Member
I am not anti plastic skins, just wont use them myself. I hate the way they feel. On my hands.

It's just that you all make it sound like such a burden to use natural heads when it's not. If the temperature and humidity are stable the heads are stable. If temp and humidity change you tweak them. You can eventually learn to compensate ahead of time. "It's going to get humid in here from all of the people breathing and sweating when the place fills up. So I'm going to tune these a little high and they will be right where I need them.

OMG, I have to tune my drums down when I'm done and tune them again when I want to play again. Maybe Gibson will come up with some kind of digital tuning thingy so my life wont be so hard.
I never said it was a burden. A preference perhaps but not a burden. For one, I can tune a macho much higher (into the wood block range) with a Nuskyn, even higher than with a Fiberskyn.

X-ray film used to be my preferred macho head material but... U.S. X-ray film was different than films from other countries (for some odd reason), or perhaps it was my source of the film that was at fault. And as we all know digital technology has relegated x-ray film to the ash heap of history.

My introduction to synthetics happened about 30 years ago, Cubano Bonguerro's showed me that little inside secret (at the time). Later on Sanchez inspired my choices in Tumbador set up.
 

Nate'sKit

Senior Member
My apologies.

I didn't come up in a Latin environment. I know next to nothing about Afro Cuban music. I really like the tone of congas, it's just that simple. I think I could incorporate it successfully in my playing, granted in a totally non traditional fashion.

If I offend the real conga players, it's not my intention. I don't feel it's blasphemous to use an instrument outside of it's historical usage. Granted, nothing I do on it could be construed as me trying to fake Latin stuff, I'm not good enough to even fake it. I just like how it adds a breath of fresh air to tom work, using the conga as a tom.

I think I'm walking through Hell in a gasoline suit with this thread.
No way. Go on with your bad self and have fun. I just like to hip people that there is a whole beautiful world out there that they may not be aware of which is theirs to dig into or not. You ain't offending me at all.
 

Nate'sKit

Senior Member
I never said it was a burden. A preference perhaps but not a burden. For one, I can tune a macho much higher (into the wood block range) with a Nuskyn, even higher than with a Fiberskyn.

X-ray film used to be my preferred macho head material but... U.S. X-ray film was different than films from other countries (for some odd reason), or perhaps it was my source of the film that was at fault. And as we all know digital technology has relegated x-ray film to the ash heap of history.

My introduction to synthetics happened about 30 years ago, Cubano Bonguerro's showed me that little inside secret (at the time). Later on Sanchez inspired my choices in Tumbador set up.
Natural skins are going to nag you tuning wise.
Bongocero.

Hey man, I'm not arguing with your personal choice for skins. Play away and have fun. The newer synthetics have supposedly come a long way from what I hear. I just don't want people to think that natural skins are such a chore.

Now why you want your drum to sound like a wood block. I've got those LP plastic thingies for that :)
 

WallyY

Platinum Member
I've had Raynaud's for many years and now I have the beginnings of arthritis.
Even if I wanted to play conga, I wouldn't allow myself to do it.
 

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
I love playing congas and bongos. But it hurts my hands after a short time.
I believe I am trying to play them too loudly and so I hit them too hard. It's the rock and roll drummer in me.


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GeoB

Gold Member
Now why you want your drum to sound like a wood block. I've got those LP plastic thingies for that :)
Plastic!!! Just kidding. I like that pop and the way it projects. Besides, playing wood/plastic blocks with your hands just doesn't make it happen.

As far as the nag... take today for instance, El Nino is working, it is 70 degrees F with 93% humidity and there was a thunderstorm passing through about an hour ago. Last year at this time my pool was frozen. Dragging drums out of A/C cars to a gig setting up in a humid venue, tuning, tuning, re-tuning is fine if you are sitting in the percussion chair, but working a kit (IMHO) should be a bit more static than that and I think that is what the OP has in mind. Not to mention drum head conservation... i.e. slacking the tuning when not playing. Stuff like that. I get it. I've done it, and it comes with the territory so to speak, and I don't mind the maintenance. But, you have to admit hand percussion has notable specifics that aren't present in kit and visa versa.


I have drum set in the garage, and a 4 congas (tuned to Cmag9) I went out there this morning and the Congo's are in tune. In fact I haven't tuned them in 2 or 3 years (quite possibly 5 or more) and they haven't shifted in pitch at all. Now as for my goatskin heads on Djembe, tar, zarb, and dombek they require not only tuning but also dampening and heating (I use a fire pit for that) and they also require a much more stable environment. Additionally stock LP Aspire heads aren't that nice thick cowhide that comes on the trad congas in the LP line; they are thinner, just as LP Aspire bongo heads get the job done but the tone is lacking. Again it's a preference, and yes it is different.

Finding those quality skins for LP Aspires might be almost impossible, the drum sizing is different. For bongo you have to go to the Remo "S" series and they only make them in 1 differing size from the standard sized heads. Perhaps Remo also carries an "S" sized set for Aspire line of conga as well. If you're talking Schalloch, or other Thai produced drums they are all together sized differently than that! Aside from the trad/standard sizes... there is no standard. Perhaps Remo started producing Aspire sized heads at the insistence of Kaman music company (who owns LP). Dunno.
 
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GeoB

Gold Member
I love playing congas and bongos. But it hurts my hands after a short time.
I believe I am trying to play them too loudly and so I hit them too hard. It's the rock and roll drummer in me.
.
I hear ya... had to cut back a bit myself and mic most of my stuff. A good friend doesn't even play any longer because over time he had to devote his energies to his trade, in which his hands come in contact with adhesives, and other solvents that dry out the skin and when he plays his skin develops cracks which... since he has to work he had to make that sacrifice.
 

Nate'sKit

Senior Member
I love playing congas and bongos. But it hurts my hands after a short time.
I believe I am trying to play them too loudly and so I hit them too hard. It's the rock and roll drummer in me.


.
After a short time. Then you are definitely doing something wrong. Keep that up and you could do permanent damage. If you aren't used to playing and you jump in and play for half hour or more then you will probably experience tenderness. TENDERNESS not pain.
 

Skrivarna

Senior Member
There's a Latin specialist around town who sometimes plays a samba with right hand on the kit (with a stick) and left hand on a pair if congas (no stick). Sounds amazing, like a whole group of players. Really energetic, loud, fast samba grooves.
I have a few gigs where I play a combined percussion/drum kit, which sometimes calls for playing conga with one hand and keeping a hihat and snare beat with with the other. Nothing elaborate (like that Latin guy), but it works well in that context and was not that hard to learn.

I use the LP Giovanni Compact Conga (tuned conga head, no shell) to fit it all in the car. Sounds perfectly OK in the PA.
 
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