I play Matadors, LP's mid-range brand, and I like them. All steel construction and built like a tank. One of the heads ripped so I reheaded them with Remo Fiberskyns for bongos. You can spend more or less but I think Matadors are the best price-quality balance.
I have a great set of Matt Smith bongos. Matt made these for me using tiger maple wood with inlayed mother of pearl. They are definitely and heirloom instrument. The important thing to know about bongos is that they are low tech; that is, they potentially can last for your lifetime and appreciate in value if you get a set made by a master drum maker. Therefore, I would recommend getting a top quality bongo from a drum maker rather than from a company that mass produces bongos.
I'm looking to buy some bongos and I'd like some guidance. I would be a complete beginner but I am happy to pay for an intermediate-quality set as this is a long-term commitment and I want them to sound good!
I've found a few sites, like the one below, which give some good info but I thought I might find a more concise and considered opinion on here.
I've read, for example, that you should make sure the metal parts are steel as they can be aluminium sometimes which is not great. I've also seen bongos advertised with chrome parts; I assume this is just as bad!
I'm living in the UK - if you could advise on the price range I should expect to pay that would be much appreciated. Is there a price below which I am not going to find a good set of bongos?