How can I make my Conga Sound Better?

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How can I make my Conga Sound Better?

Postby L'Amour_Du_Rythme » Sat Jul 05, 2014 3:29 am

Hi guys , I just recently got a new drum (the one on the left in the picture) in Paraguay from the Kamba Kua people. to my understanding it is just like a conga. I would like to know how i could make it sound better. It is made out of staved Pine with a Deer Head. on the inside it has a special glue mixture that looks black and practically covers the most of the staves inside of the drum ( I was told that the black glue is how the conga sticks together. I am able to tune it and it has a nice tone sound , on the higher side somewhat like a djembe. I would like to get more a booming bass sound from it. would I have to change the head or just tighten the head down some more to get a better sound and more bass? also If I made a stand that is like the bell of a djembe for the drum to sit on it, would it increase the bass sound because on a metal stand it sounds more like a thud bass?
Thank you.
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Re: How can I make my Conga Sound Better?

Postby ABAKUA » Sat Jul 05, 2014 5:02 pm

Due to their construction, skin type and hardware, they will never sound like congas. By their appearance they look alot like a Uruguayan Piano & Repique from Candombe (Afro Uruguayan folkloric drumming)
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Re: How can I make my Conga Sound Better?

Postby L'Amour_Du_Rythme » Sat Jul 05, 2014 5:08 pm

Thank you so much for Replying, These drums Come from the people who are descendants of the slaves in uruguay and I guess it was silly of me to think that Candombe would be like a conga. I thought due to the barrel round body shape that the sound could be similar. Would you have any suggestions on how to make the drum sound better and louder?
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Re: How can I make my Conga Sound Better?

Postby burke » Sun Jul 06, 2014 1:04 pm

Well you could try getting rid of the deer skin and replacing it with cow. While its off it would hurt to smooth out that knarlly looking bearing edge. You'd wouldn't want anything too thick by the look of the hardware ... unless you you want to go whole hog replace all of it ... buy then you've likely spent as much as buying drum. But if you are into it just for the sake of experimenting [something that I like to do now and then] ... why not?
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Re: How can I make my Conga Sound Better?

Postby Derbeno » Mon Jul 07, 2014 4:25 am

Just to echo what Burke said.

It does not look like the hardware will be able to take anything thicker such as cow or steer.
Echale candela, p'afinar los cueros
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Re: How can I make my Conga Sound Better?

Postby ABAKUA » Mon Jul 07, 2014 1:12 pm

The hardware and shell design, along with lack of strength in the wood is not designed to sound like a conga, nor can it sound like a conga. It wont be able to take a thicker skin like a conga would take, nor would the shell withstand the tension from the hardware, the lugs wont be able to deliver the tension needed also from a thicker conga skin, be it cow, buffalo, steer, mule etc etc The drums would make ok Candombe like drums... and only just. My advice is, if you want conga like sounding drums, look towards investing in some congas. ;)

Below are some pics of my 'Chico' from the set of 3 Uruguayan Candombe drums, a student gave me this drum as a gift a few years ago. The chico is the smallest drum, the time keeper. While the Piano drum provides the base and low tones, the Repique as its name suggests, is the soloing drum, while it solo's around a base solo pattern.

It is made of Brazilian Pine and the skin is goat.

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Re: How can I make my Conga Sound Better?

Postby L'Amour_Du_Rythme » Tue Jul 08, 2014 2:13 am

Thank you all so much for your input I've been trying to get as much wisdom as I can get from you all about these types of drums. I mostly play Djembe, ashiko, Darbuka, and Cajon so things in regards to stave drums with a belly I am completely lost haha. I ended up trying out some of the other fatter drums and they sounded like candombe repiques and a Bajo. strangely enough and 2 of them felt just like old gon bop congas ; nice warm and fat tone - I wanted to get one but it was just too fat to put in my suite case. I ended up going back and exchanging my drum for the other skinnier drum in the picture. its pretty odd, but when i tuned it it felt like an ashiko more than anything else in regards of tone ; I'm guessing its due to the body shape and maybe that it is made out of ceder.


I have 2 congas and i have no idea where they come from and I was interested in playing some of these drums with my congas. ?
I'm just trying to learn as much as I can about all drums :)
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Re: How can I make my Conga Sound Better?

Postby burke » Tue Jul 08, 2014 12:53 pm

I am not one of the experts but they look like Mexican congas to me. Which some poo poo and others not so much. I have a beater Mexican quinto that someone put decent LP hardware on and I put a semi decent skin on ...I think it sounds pretty good.
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