8 Best Conga Drums [Reviews, Extensive Research]

Posted in Percussion | Last Updated on May 1, 2020

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You must have heard of Cuban-American singer Gloria Estefan and her song called Conga. Yeah, a great, cheerful track that makes you dance. Unfortunately, we will not talk about this beautiful singer, but our topic will be equally interesting. It's about one of the most awesome percussion drums.

There is a really large number of percussion instruments on the market and no one can safely say what number it is. From that huge family of the percussion instruments, congas are one of the most frequently recorded percussion instruments.

It's so popular because of its specific sound that fits into almost every genre of music and any style of rhythm. We do not blame you for wanting to own one.

We know it's not easy to choose. We know you would probably want to try and buy every model we suggested. If you can afford it, go for it. And if not, we suggest you think carefully, do your research, check others experience for which one is best for you.

Enough theory and chit-chat

Our Top 8 Conga Picks on Today’s Market

1. Meinl Percussion LC1134NT-M Artist Series Luis Conte Signature

Meinl is becoming more and more well-known for its production of quality percussion instruments. This model is more suitable for those who like the tone and style of traditional and old Cuban percussions. The design is really simple and the average outlook makes it a favored one. It is made with extensive care to detail, this conga drum is well built and provides a magnificent sound quality. It produces amazing tones and gives an exceptional playing experience. All kind of musicians, beginners or pros will absolutely enjoy their performance with this classic model.

It is 30 inches tall and it has a weight of 22.1 pounds. The structure combines high quality, sustainable double plywood and regular tuning rims in the Cuban form. It comes with a natural matte finish and the simple design is what makes it more attractive to the eyes.

It contains handpicked skin buffalo heads, whose thickness and sound characteristics make it an incredible selection. Also, it has a black powder coated hardware and strong, great quality tuning lugs of 8 mm. The regular TTR rims of 4 mm are also included and they are placed closer to the shell. Because of that position, the sound of conga is increased.

Editor's choice best pick badge

2. Latin Percussion Galaxy Giovanni 9-3/4"

The Latin Percussion company is known for its unique and high-quality products. One of them is this model that we can classify in the best buy field. Every professional player would choose this beauty because of its glorious sound which can take your playing step up. This fabulous edition from Lp is one of the best sellers and is well-known for its elegant shell design and reliable structure.

The quality of this conga is superior and it delivers a remarkable sound quality. This heavy drum gives a very solid and powerful tone. The attack and warmth it delivers are elegant and you won’t find such extraordinary tone with any other conga drum. This magnificent model is handcrafted from top American Ash wood. It is carefully designed and combines the heart side plates that are well ensured with backing plate and three bolts.

If you buy it you could play some wonderful sweet and warm tones, crackling highs and powerful bass tones with superb sound protection. The deep, shining finish adds richness to its look and makes it even more wanted. It is safe to say that any percussionist will envy you. Not only because of the stunning looks and tone, but also because of the incredible quality of wood from which it was made.

3. Meinl Percussion HC512WRB Headliner Series

[11-Inch and 12-Inch]

Meinl company has been making percussion instruments for a long time, and they are also famous just like LP for quality and durability. While this German company is best known for making cymbals, their conga percussions are especially good. This model is classified as for beginner’s, but it has a lot of power. These drums are 11 and 12 inches each and with a height of 28” generates full sounds. That model have some of the finest quality heads. They have superior range, with clear tones and plenty of volumes. Even these percussions are aimed towards to beginner musicians there is enough power to satisfy serious percussion player too.

Available in wine burst red and other colors, these are one the most beautiful model available nowadays. All the hardware parts have a black powder coating which provides extra durability. For every player, the adaptable height stand is an important characteristic as it allows you to customize it for your playing style.

From a musical viewpoint, the sound is warm, clear and good enough even for professional use. The Meinl HC512WRB are compact but offer superior sound and performance. It is a really nice set not just for beginners but for anyone who wants a decent pair of this percussion instrument.

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4. Lp Lpm198 Mini Tunable

An excellent little conga, well made, looks & sounds nice. However, it is built pretty close to the high standards of LP drums, plus it has the real feel like the standard size. It is so tiny you could play it while sitting in your chair. It is perfect for practicing finger beats; you could increase the speed of your fingers dramatically.

An additional plus is because of its relatively low volume, you will not bother others. The head is not that large to do a hand heal/finger beat. The head diameter is about 3 1/2".  So it can't really be played like a big conga, especially in terms of getting a bass note with the palm of your hand. The construction of the shell and the quality of the head is really good for the price.

Hoop and tensioners all indicate that this is not a toy, it is meant to be played.

It has a very nice ringing tone. This little girl can be classified as "apartment" choice since it will not bother your neighbors and it will not bother your roommates. Although at first glance it looks like a toy, actually you can produce some nice tones and rhythms with this little one.

5. Lp Aspire Wood Conga 12 Inch

[Best For Beginners]

Another great product of the famous Latin percussion company. The 12 Inch Aspire have five lugs. The rims are high quality, very sturdy and will not bend. Others recommend changing the heads with mule's or cow's, or even synthetic. It is an option but it is fine just as is.

The head on the 12" is really good for modern tunings. The LP Aspire wood conga sets are ready to be bought with a chrome plated height adaptable LP Aspire double stand. Built from 28" height furnace dried environmentally beneficial Siam Oak, these sets contain the black powder coated LP Aspire side plates, 9/32" tuning lugs and EZ Curve Rims with improved strength.

A curved surface that provides great playing comfort and natural rawhide tucked heads makes it perfect choice for any percussionist.

If you are new to the percussion world, this might be the right choice for you. They are beautiful, with great sound. Easy to tune and irrelevant if you have 8 or 88 years of age, you will enjoy playing these wonderful conga drums.

6. Cannon UPXS8300NAT

This is the perfect companion to showcase your talents and skills as well as improve your secret potential in percussion instruments. The Cannon Conga percussion has a comparable composition as LP Jr. Conga because the drums are miniature and the stand is tall enough to uplift the drums as well as support a comfortable performance.

Its overall size is 24 x 12 x 18.5 inches which mean 11" height and 12" diameter. With that size, its weight is just about 28 pounds.

The cover of the is polished in natural wooden paint which makes it look attractive and rich. In addition, it built with Saim Oak Wood shells, durable double braced, and tunable heads. It is also not a bad idea to know that this model of is crafted and is shipped directly from Taiwan. One huge advantage is that the price is definitely affordable.

7. REMO Jimmie Morales, 11.75"

If you do not care about the price and want something exotic, grab the chance to play Jimmie Morales signature series of conga drums which are made by Remo.

It is visibly both, smooth and sharp, as to its design and emphasizes finishing. The head was equipped with fiber skin technology which ensures its persistence and versatility.

In addition, its rim hoop was rounded and involved with chrome plate. These are the most artistic congas among all of the percussions mentioned in this article. It is also the most expensive so far due to its quality features and because it is a signature model.

You will never waste a single dollar for this beauty, consider it investment because every dollar you're going to pay for it, will totally worth it! Name me any percussionist who would not want to own it. Anyone who knows just a little bit about the quality Remo products, will not miss the opportunity to buy some of their products and especially this one.

8. Lp Wb2040 World Beat Caribe Conga

We can say for sure that this little girl is really well made. Yes, you’ll know that when you see it in person and compare it with more serious professional congas, you may say that this is a toy. We will not agree. The Wb2040 is far from a toy since it is very good and gives more than a decent sound.

It is crafted from kiln dried Siam Oak wood shell because of which it has such a great sound. Even after frequent use for months, this Wb2040 will retain its original appearance. It comes with a reliable carry belt or strap how musicians intend to call it. With it you, can walk through the park while playing, it’s that portable.

The Black EZ Curve Rim provide more comfortable playing than traditional style rims. On such price tag, this model becomes a very tempting option.

A little backstory

Conga percussion and its rhythms originate in Africa and Cuba, and therefore it is an Afro-Cuban instrument. Historical knowledge tells us that the conga is a descendant and product of one or more African percussions that have been brought to Cuba. We were informed from more sources that this happened in 1930 and that it actually took over his famous form of the barrel at the time.

It is an old but important instrument in the world of music and rhythms. Many people have always shown interest in owning and learning how to play this instrument. The sounds produced by this instrument are wonderful and every song that possesses the sound of this instrument is, in its own specific way, enriched and colored.

Many musicians enjoy playing congas. Although almost every drummer thinks he knows how to play this amazing instrument, it's actually not true. If you want to play you will need special skill and time learning proper technique.

Top brands

As the demand for this instrument is growing, many companies have begun to make these beauties. There are several popular brands that are supplying top quality instruments in various different price ranges. The kings of percussion instruments are Meinl, LP, Remo, Pearl.

All these companies exist for more than 50 years, making high-quality products, made with the best shells, heads, and high overall material quality. Believe us, when we say that you will not make mistake if you choose any model of these top brands.

These are simply all world class manufacturers who respect and do everything to preserve and exceeded their reputation and satisfy their clients.

One additional “bonus” is that if you go with one of their products, at each corner (music instrument stores) you can find replacement parts for your percussions.

The popularity of this instrument has grown so much that in each market you can find a conga that suits your needs.

Meinl is a private German (Gutenstetten) company that is well-known for the production of cymbals, which was founded in 1951.

LP or Latin Percussion is the worldwide most famous company which producing percussion instruments. It is founded by Martin Cohen in 1964 New York, America. Well known for high standard and top quality products.

Remo is also a worldwide famous American company founded in 1957 known for the production of the highest quality drumheads. They also make very high quality, exotic percussions.

What to look for in a conga?

You should decide what is your budget. In other words, how much you want to spend on your new percussion. Low-end and high-end model significantly vary in price, so it’s really important to know what your budget is before you start buying. Consider why you want a conga drum for, how long you are going to keep it and how frequently you think you will play it.

Choose the size that you "like".  Different size, different sound, different price. The congas usually appear in three different sizes. These sizes are measured by the diameter of its drumhead. It's not unusual for percussionists to have a set of them all but if you are beginner we suggest you start with one size.

Your size options are:

The Quinto. It is the smallest size and that's why it has a high pitch sound.

The Segundo. It is the medium size  and it’s definitely the best choice for newcomers in the percussion world because of its versatility. You should choose the Segundo if it is you first conga and if you are only buying one.

The Tumba is the largest and that's why it has a low pitch sound.

We also suggest you should buy a fiberglass one if you’re on a budget. The ones made of fiberglass are usually much cheaper than their wooden sisters. Also, they are more durable. So you should go with a fiberglass if you are not a professional.

If you want a high-quality sound, then you should buy one made of wooden.

There plenty of choices because congas are traditionally made of wood. Professional players favor wooden ones because they provide a nice, sweet, rich sound. If you are an experienced player and plan on hold your instrument, then you should invest in a wooden design. Wooden models appear in almost all of the types of wood, but ash and oak are the most popular among pros.

Next thing you should consider is choosing between a natural or synthetic drumhead.

The drumhead (the “skin”) is the surface that is stretched around the drums's body which you hit with your hands when playing it. You should choose a drumhead based on your budget and the sound you want to get.

Natural drumheads, made from animal skin, are traditional. These are more expensive and harder to put on the conga's body. Many players saying that it produces a much better sound than synthetic models.

Synthetic skins are affordable and more "long-lasting" than the natural ones. They are easy to put on and do well in humid, where natural skins tend to deform and get worse.