View Full Version : Congas

July 17th, 2010, 01:57 AM
I picked up a pro set of three Congas; 12, 11.75, and 11 inch sunbursts with basket stands.

These are real fun to play.

I'm planning to work these into a loop layer on my JamMan instead of using my regular drum set because they are easier to mic, maybe set up a cymbal stand and hand splash in some cymbal sounds.

Congas are really cool and all you need is one to start with and then build on your set for a good simple drum line.

They are also very fun and definitely build your timing when you get into your grooves.

I also noticed that playing bass helps get me into the guitar groove. After the bass practice the guitar seems small and easy to weild and ripping in some fast licks is cake. Working the big bass rythym for a while and then picking up the guitar is like going from a ship to a speedboat. Playing bass is really a speed builder for guitar for me.

Drums are a way to develop your internal clock to the point where it is intrinsic, invisible, unconscious, and really easy to see when you are getting out of time and enables you to make corrections on the fly real easy.

Music is so inter related and dynamic. Being able to play multiple instruments enables you to facilitate your growth in the other instruments because natural abilities and musicalities manifest themselves in one instrument and you try to implement them into your other instruments. At least that is the way it is working for me. Newly discovered musicalities on one instrument leads to new, fresh ideas on the other instruments. It is kind of like listening to some of you guys clips here on the net. They give me new ideas. Especially when they are not too hard and I can improvise my own grooves.

Drums really give you a chance to get your muscles involved in your music and conga drums are easy to play, big, loud, and put out a very full and pleasing sound, unlike the quick rappity tap of bongos; bongos are great too but require more skill, ironically, than bongos. It's like backing up a small trailer compared to backing up a big trailer. The big one is easier, just like the big conga drum, the bigger the better. A 12 inch conga would be enough for many muscians to enjoy and be able to do a LOT of things with.

Anyone play congas here?

July 17th, 2010, 09:12 AM
Yep, Ive got a set of LP's, conga and a quinto. (11" and 10")

took classes for a while. therapeutic. Sadly they've been serving more music stands lately. I'll have to change that.

NC Zeppelin
January 18th, 2011, 04:08 PM
hey ive been playing congos for fun for about 2 months and have been getting a good feel for afro-cuban beats and a little jamacain on the side, can anyone give me some links or samples of other styles that i can work on and get a feel for or i can hear to expand

January 18th, 2011, 06:13 PM
NC, watch the old Santana YouTubes and listen to the old original Santana CD's. Those dudes are/were awesome. If they were Cuban I'm not sure. But it was heavy rock.

NC Zeppelin
January 19th, 2011, 09:12 PM
NC, watch the old Santana YouTubes and listen to the old original Santana CD's. Those dudes are/were awesome. If they were Cuban I'm not sure. But it was heavy rock.

much thanks man :dude it means alot

January 19th, 2011, 10:58 PM
Not long ago PBS broadcast a lot of film footage taken at Woodstock. The drummer for Santana, Mike something?, was really young but out of this world sensational !!! It's worth searching out on YouTube just to see him solo

January 19th, 2011, 11:33 PM
To learn how to play the Congas real good, play them a lot. Develop your rhythyms based on some of the stuff you hear in Santana, etc. Start out slow and get into a groove.

Slap the "rims" of the wood on the edge of the Congas. Use your fingertips and sometime later you can develop the use of your thumbs to rap the rims. When you slap the rims have it so the second joint in your three main fingers hit above the outer part of the rim with your finger tips slapping against the Buffalo hide. So you get a lot of rim shots, essentially. Do rhythyms and roll one hand off to the other Conga for highlights and to develop the groove. Then alternate with both hands playing rhythyms back and forth with both hands between the two Congas. I have three Congas.

Do not rap the Congas too hard or you will hurt the joints in your fingers and have no ability to play for a long period of time. Rap the rims so that the tone rings out nicely with a full not muffled sound. They should ring, sort of, a low pitched ring compared to a bell of course.

Tune each Conga so that it rings very pleasantly when you rap the rim with your finger tips. Then tune the smaller Conga so that it is at a higher note but that the note rings out fully and compliments the note of the larger Conga. The Conga's should not sound "flat" or be tuned too tight or you will break the tuners.

If you don't have a tuning wrench, get one. The Conga's will go out of tune with temperature and humidity and you will want to tweak them to get just your right sound.

Remember, practice your hand work and try to get the Conga to "ring" out. The Conga should never sound flabby or pronouncedly dull, but rather, "ring" out when tapped correctly across the rim with your finger tips pointed in toward the center and hitting the Buffalo hide just inside the rim and the base of your fingers hitting over the rim but on top of the skin. Don't hit the metal rim with your finger joints - hit the hide where it goes over the top of the wooden drum, pulled down by the metal rim. Never hit the metal rim with your fingers, but you may rest your palms on the metal rims in a way that doesn't hurt when you slap the heads at the outer perimeter of the head and over the wooden body of the drum on the skin as it goes over the top of the wooden drum shell.

Hopefully this is not too fundamental for you. I don't mean to insult you. But if you don't know your technique, you can practice it.

Don't hit the head over the wooden shell with your second finger joints too hard or eventually the skin will actually crack - you don't want this. Some Conga drummers have a lot of tape on their fingers because the skin on their fingers is cracked from the continuous shock of hitting that head over the wooden rim. But this is how you draw the tone out of the drum - resonate the wood, and get the head to "ring".

Play your rhythyms a lot and they will become more intense and complicated and musical and you will develop your beat and timing so that you will be able to change rhythyms without missing a beat, and combine beats and rhythyms very musically.

Hope this helps you.

Don't forget to tune up those heads.

What I would do is detune both heads until there is just no force pulling down on the head, equally all the way around the drum. Tighten them so they are all just barely starting to pull down on the head. This will balance the tuning claws so there is even pull on the metal rim all the way around the wooden head of the drum. Then you do like a full turn on each tuner, criss crossing across the drum like tightening the lug nuts on a car. Turn these until you have a note starting to form when you rap the head. It will sound flabbly. Slowly tune it up a little at a time until you get a real nice note that rings when tapped without sounding flabby. Do the same to the other Conga and you should have a natural separation of notes between the two drums, creating two notes, one higher in pitch. Tweak the separation of the notes until you get the separation you want and both drums produce a beautiful ringing tone.

If you start with the drums detuned you will be able to bring them up the the first real nice full ringing note, instead of messing around with Congas that are out of tune trying to tune them in a pleasant sounding way. You won't know if the tension on each tuning claw is equally tensioned on the metal rim if you don't detune them and start from scratch. Just tighten them up so there is no slack, evenly all the way around, and tune them up to the notes you want, keeping the same number of turns and partial turns on all of the tuners on each drum equal as you go. This way you won't stretch the head to the side or have the metal rim sitting at an offset angle to the top rim of the wooden shells.

I hope this info helps you if you didn't know about it.

Good luck and play, play, play and you will eventually produce sounds coming out of your soul, rythyms from your soul.

Traditional Conga drum players, most professionals, are almost religious about playing the Conga's. Conga drumming goes way back in time to a time when playing the drums would call forth Mother Earth. The concept here being "skin on skin" - the skin of your hand rapping on the skin of the Buffalo, a sacred animal. The tones and rhythyms would be repititious and bring forth the spirit of Mother Earth. This would be a very serious responsibility to play the drums and participate in this "skin on skin" spiritual ritual. Listen to your rythyms as you develop them. You may be able to connect to the vibe and really get a lot of enjoyment and release and even inspiration out of your playing. It is about blending your spirit thru your skin rapping on the sacred Buffalo's skin - the sound produced by this skin on skin blending was supposed to be a sacred spiritual thing bringing you into syncronization with Mother Earth. You'd be surprised at how many professional Conga drummers believe this view and consider their relationship between them and their Congas a spiritual one.

Ha ha - isn't this tradition interesting?!

This is why most professional Conga drummers will not use synthetic Conga drum heads. They insist upon "skin on skin", Buffalo hide skins made into Conga drum heads. Did you know about this tradition? You should if you are going to be a Conga drummer.

January 19th, 2011, 11:42 PM
You are right. That drummer was incredible. Mike was his name I also believe and I don't know what happened to him. He was a very fast and intricate rock drummer. They had two or three Conga drummers as well.

I would say that you can find the YouTube of that Woodstock performance, the performance where Santana broke into the big time. If not for that break where would Santana be today? No one knows, of course.