Conga Tuning - How to tune congas

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Postby Diceman » Fri May 06, 2005 10:07 am

Hi guys,

I have been playing for years, but still havent got a definitive method for tuning Congas. I usually use a pitch pipe to some interval, usually thirds or fourths or use the Oye Como Va principle. BUT..... I figure that each conga has its own 'sweet spot' tuning. How do you find it and what are you listening for?
I would appreciate any tips.
Sabor
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Postby conga KID » Sat May 07, 2005 1:56 am

welcome to the forums dice man..if you have a look in Technique, Rhythms and Exercises you should find a few discussion topics regarding tuning the congas all though i have found it impossible to perfectly tune a conga due to the skin being un even across the head im not sure about synthetic heads as i have never used them...
PERCUSSION...A WAY OF LIFE!!
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Postby sundancevit » Fri Jun 10, 2005 8:56 am

how to play BOSSANOVA rythm [ conga] !!!!!! tell me please
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Postby mco » Fri Jun 10, 2005 10:21 am

sundancevit:
Try this link. The text is in German, but there is musical notation at the bottom.

http://www.renesenn.de/perk-br4.htm


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Postby ABAKUA » Fri Jun 10, 2005 10:55 am

Diceman wrote:Hi guys,

I have been playing for years, but still havent got a definitive method for tuning Congas. I usually use a pitch pipe to some interval, usually thirds or fourths or use the Oye Como Va principle. BUT..... I figure that each conga has its own 'sweet spot' tuning. How do you find it and what are you listening for?
I would appreciate any tips.
Sabor

I tune in fourths using Do Re Mi Fa theory.

Equal half turns on all the lugs, one by one, all the way round till I achieve the pitch I want.
No overtones/ringing.
Also, if you can get the harmonics out of each drum, your tuning should be spot on, well at least for me that works, kind've hard to type it out, best shown in person, come to Sydney! We'll have a jam and a feed! I cook a mean BBQ. :D
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Postby mco » Fri Jun 10, 2005 12:38 pm

I was wondering why the conventional method for tuning snare drums, tom-toms, etc is to tighten the lugs using an "X" or cross pattern, while everything I've seen for tuning congas says to tighten the lugs in a circular pattern. Any ideas?
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Postby ABAKUA » Fri Jun 10, 2005 12:43 pm

I imagine its to do with the larger surface covered on tumbadoras and the thicker skins...

Where as bongo on the other hand is traditionally tuned in the 'X' method like snares and toms, due to it being a much smaller surface and far thinner skin.
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Postby Diceman » Fri Jun 10, 2005 5:31 pm

Hey Abakua,

Is what you are saying that you tune your first drum until you get no overtones and then the rest in fourths? Obviously if I am recording the drums should be tuned to the same key as the music, so there is no choice, but to get the best tone in a group of drummers there are no musical constraints.
Maybe I should take up your offer some day and come to Sydney. You can show me were to buy a Candido special hehehe.

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Postby ABAKUA » Fri Jun 10, 2005 6:04 pm

Ah, I didnt make that too clear did I... sorry.. I will try to break down what I do...

When I play in Timba/Salsa bands playing with 3 tumbadoras set up.. (I am right handed)

What I meant is that when your drums are correctly tuned, there shouldnt be overtones or ringing in the open tone, now this will always vary depending on the quality of your skins/drums. I am speaking in context of high end brand drums and good skins.. ie I use LP Classics or LP Palladiums depending what my gig is...

I tune my centre drum first (conga), I tune to a central sound not overly high like a rumba quinto though, more of a central sound where I get nice crisp slaps, nice open tone with no ringing or overtone, then work to my right first, tuning the next drum (also a conga) I tune it to the pitch of a tumba ("Re" lower than the central conga. but higher than the lowest pitched drum to my left...To the left I use the Super Tumba or Tumba and tune this lower than the drum to my far right. I use the lowest drum to my left pitched somewhere between an Iya type sound and a low tumba, centre drum highest, to my right the middle pitched drum.
So left to right it sounds: Do Mi Re
Base it off the main open tones in a guaguanco..

Now.. I also play with latin jazz and descarga bands amongst other styles, and when I work with these groups, then I play a 4 conga configuration in a similar set up to Anga. ie I use a quinto in the centre, tuned to a central type sound, not overly high. A conga to the right, tuned as a tumba. A conga directly infront of the quinto, tuned a balance in tone between the low drum on my right and the quinto. To the left I will have my super tumba or tumba tuned as the lowest of all drums. Very similar to Anga's and Jorge "El Niño Alfonso's (R.I.P) configuration/tuning.

Your Tumbas, traditionally should be tuned in a "do re mi" type scale generally for latin styles.
The type of tuning will vary from percussionist to percussionist, though normally try to keep the central sound of each drum and see if you can achieve nice clear harmonics out of each drum, you should be spot on. :)

Oh, and as for you coming to Sydney, let me know! Plenty of good percussionists to jam and hang out with!
BBQ is on me! :D




Edited By ABAKUA on 1118427186
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Postby Diceman » Sat Jun 11, 2005 4:34 pm

Abakua,

Thanks man, I will try those tunings out.

Diceman
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Postby rumbaman » Fri Aug 12, 2005 4:18 pm

How is everyone today . THis is the best site on the web. I use the do re mi fa scale also to tune mines . WELCOME Sundancevit from down under how are and welcome to this great family we have here of congeros . The Bossa Nova i was taught goes like this .

oht ssosht soo
oo oo
they are all 16th notes
hope this helps .
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Postby koolbreeze76 » Mon Aug 29, 2005 7:59 pm

my question is how do you tune three drums?i have a set of three congas which is made up of 11" quinto 11"3/4 conga and 12"1/2 tumba, which method of tuning should i use for tuning them? please get back to me:rock:
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Postby pidoca » Tue Aug 30, 2005 12:30 am

Gday.

I was taught tuning by Sunil Da Silva, He is the most recorded musician in australia. he is a professional percussionist. LIke abakua said, tune it tot he open tone of the guaganco. For 3 congas play the open tones right handed then left handed, then play them missing the middle drum. Hopefully this will make sense.

In a rock setting, I tend to tune a little higher, due to the guitar amps, drums etc... You dont want to neccessarily have the same tunig as the toms, as it willl clash.

Once Ihave done tuning I ask the drummer to play a little groove and I will join in. I can hear the tunning then, in a musical setting.

another thing to keep inm nd, is how many instruments are in the band. If the band is personal heavy I tune higher still to get the congas to cut through,

God Bless
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Postby JohnnyConga » Tue Aug 30, 2005 4:11 pm

Here are the standard tunings for 3 congas, -Key of G for the Tumba-key of C for the quinto and key of Bflat for the conga/segundo drum....that is also the way "Patato" tunes his 3 congas..... :D "JC" Johnny Conga....

Attachment: http://mycongaplace.com/forum/eng/uploa ... tato_3.jpg
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Postby Diceman » Tue Aug 30, 2005 5:59 pm

Hi JC,

We just went full circle, the tuning you suggest is the 'Oye Como Va' or 'Afro Blue' tuning, apparently these tunes got written by listening to the congas!
Enjoy the Summer
Sabor
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