Conga buying advice needed

charliedrummer

Senior Member
I've been playing drums for 50+ years as a hobby and would like to get more into hand percussion. I'd really like to get a set of congas to practice on. I've read a lot of information online and watched several YT videos, so I know the basics in terms of size and material. Now I need to narrow down my choices. I don't want to go ultra high end but at the same time I've found that going with the cheapest price is often a poor decision. Can anyone recommend a good set of congas (brand, model) that are of good quality, will provide a nice sound, but won't break the bank? It seems that LP and Meinl are the main players in hand percussion.
 

Freewill3

Member
Hey charliedrummer! I picked up congas a couple years ago, been playing playing drums for 40 years. I decided on the LP Performer series, this is an exclusive line to Guitar Center. They're made of Siam Oak, similar to the Matador series and available in many different colors. It is true that inexpensive congas don't quite deliver but like you, I didn't want to spend $500+ per conga. I went the extra step and upgraded the heads with Manito steer skins but there is nothing wrong with the stock performer heads. (Think Remo UT or Gretsch stock heads on a snare vs. regular Ambassadors). They sound really good and the finish ( I chose the blue fade) is high quality. Like the drumset, if you're patient with tuning and get the heads broken in, they really sing! Between all the available online options, open box, and Guitar Center coupons, you can find some great discounts! I haven't played any Meinl congas but the sound files on YouTube sound really good for the price range you're looking for.
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
I got into the LP Classic series when I went Latin. From a practical standpoint, Remo already made their NuSkin heads in those sizes and those were available at stores that stocked them. The heads made a huge difference for me as they are easier to play (my hands cannot handle authentic skin - too hard for me). If I went with any other brand or model, the heads then had to be special ordered.
 

Bozozoid

Gold Member
Not much help but yeeears ago I was in Flood music and saw these congas...now I've messed with congs befor and would love to be a conga player...SO I'm doing my Santana thing and immediately thought why do these sound so good..they were fiberglass. Check'm out!.
 

charliedrummer

Senior Member
Thanks for your feedback. I see that some conga sets come with a stand to mount both congas, similar to a dual tom stand on a drum kit, while others have a separate, basket style stand for each conga. Is one better/worse than the other?
 

MustangMick

Senior Member
Thanks for your feedback. I see that some conga sets come with a stand to mount both congas, similar to a dual tom stand on a drum kit, while others have a separate, basket style stand for each conga. Is one better/worse than the other?
Seperate basket is a better option, much sturdier than a double stand, if playing standing up.

Sitting down stands aren't always necessary.
You can use a drumstick underneath to angle the drums away from you slightly,
lets the air out of the bottom for bass tone/projection.

Mick
 

ravenson

Member
Mid level congas from LP or Meinl plus Nu Skin heads . Easy on the wallet , easy on the hands . Maximum tone with minimal pain . Try to get the ones with rounded ' comfort curve ' rims too . Straight profile steel rims and thick buffalo hides can really bruise your palms and split your fingertips when you're starting out . Ergonomically sensible distance between your hands and drum surfaces will minimize shoulder injury .

I'm passing these tips on from experience learned the hard way . I've been off and on with congas most of my playing life . At one point I was going to go 100% percussion . If you're aiming for performance with an amplified band, a small investment in adequate mics would be a good idea too. Decide if you're going to be standing or sitting . Try both and see which style suits you better .
 
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vxla

Silver Member
Matadors are a great option for you and they are solid on the LP stand. Baskets are better, yes, but they're also more difficult to lug around usually. LP Performers are decent. I'd personally rather get a used set of Matadors or Classics if I was looking for a set of production drums.

If you want used drums with natural skins, make sure the counter hoop of the drum is no more than 1-inch down from the bearing edge....if so, expect to replace the skins in a year or two (depending on tuning). Be careful with the hype of "the thicker the skin the less ring" that people seem to get caught up in as that shell ring carries slaps out in FOH more in pop situations.

Correct playing position will solve any issues with rims. Comfort Curve isn't better over traditional steel rims by any means if you know how to hit the drum correctly.
 
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