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Help with chosing congas

romanium14

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Hi, I'm a complete beginner percussionist and I want to buy a set of congas. I've seen three that are on my budget. The lp aspire natural color, lp city series mango carved and the meinl headliner natural color. What do you guys think? By the looks I would buy the series ones but I saw somewhere that its hard to find new heads for it. Much appreciate any help I can get
 

bpaluzzi

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I'm a big fan of fiberglass congas for beginners. IME, they make it significantly easier to get volume without killing your hands. I've recommended the Pearl Primero fiberglass set in the past -- they sound great, are easy to play, and come with a good stand:

 

romanium14

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Thanks for the quick answer. Those congas look great, the thing is that they're no available in sweden. I could order them from the US but will have to pay lots of taxes.
 

Marting

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Don’t get any 10 inch congas. They are toys. Better to get a second hand pair of matadors.
 

dharma bum

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Can you get to a music store and try any out? Obviously that would help. Also, look for better quality used congas nearby if that's a possibility. But if that's not possible, I think they all would do what you need them to do, so there's no wrong choice. Both Meinl and LP are good brands. The LP Aspires are about US $130 more than the City series - so slightly cheaper materials, I assume. Will that make a difference in your enjoyment, or make a difference in what you as a beginner or others hear? I don't know, but probably not much if at all.

Do the Meinls have a double stand or two single stands? What do you prefer?

Finally, looks matter - if they look and feel good to you you're more likely to be motivated to play.

Let us know what you decide.
 

Jazz Turkey

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Meinl Luis Conte sigs are worth a look. They hit that sweet price point of budget cost but quality sound.
 

Marting

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Strong disagree, especially for beginners. Nothing wrong with a well-made 10” drum.
What’s the point of a beginner buying a drum they are soon going to need to replace? Much better to get a decent full sized drum second hand. The majority of pro players play a 11 3/4” main drum or, rarely an 11”. Never a ten inch.
 

bpaluzzi

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What’s the point of a beginner buying a drum they are soon going to need to replace? Much better to get a decent full sized drum second hand. The majority of pro players play a 11 3/4” main drum or, rarely an 11”. Never a ten inch.
What are you talking about? EVERY quinto is 11”, and requintos are 9.75”.

Not that what “pros” use has any bearing on what a beginner should get. A 10” and 11” set is absolutely FINE for someone to get started on, and for the usage that the majority of congas get used for - something for the drummer to play during “acoustic” songs, something to mess around with at home, or something for a school band room.
 
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Marting

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What are you talking about? EVERY quinto is 11”, and requintos are 9.75”.

Not that what “pros” use has any bearing on what a beginner should get. A 10” and 11” set is absolutely FINE for someone to get started on, and for the usage that the majority of congas get used for - something for the drummer to play during “acoustic” songs, something to mess around with at home, or something for a school band room.
That’s fine. You have your point of view, but the original poster should know that most serious conga players would not agree.

Why not take a look at this thread on a specialised conga drum forum “I think most forum members would agree with you not getting a cheap beginner drum to start. If cost is an issue, you're better off getting a used Matador or LP Classic than spending a similar amount of money on an Aspire set or other beginner drum. […] the 11.75" (or there about) "Conga" is by far the best starter size”

This is consensus amongst conga players.


There is more good advice here saying the same thing: http://artdrum.com/FAQ_CHOOSING_CONGA_SIZES.htm
 
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Marting

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. What that page actually says:
Firstly the original poster presumably wants more help and advice than “it doesn’t matter”.

Secondly the page I linked to is talking about choosing between standard sized drums, which start at 11” for the Quinto. This information is widely available eg on Wikipedia “The quinto is typically around 11 inches across”


You’re entitled to hold your opinion, but I’m trying to give the OP some links to check into themselves rather than relying on one person’s opinion.
 
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DrumPhil

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If you are a beginning conga player and are only playing with your hands (not sticks), it will probably be a long time before you ever need to replace heads on your congas.

If you do plan to take them out for gigs or other use out of the house, purchase cases or bags to protect them.

Decide if you plan to play them standing or sitting. If standing, then you need a decent stand (or pair of basket stands). If sitting, then you should consider getting conga feet or some other type of lift to get them up off the floor a little. Congas lose almost all of their bass tones when sitting flat on the floor.

If they don't come with a tuning wrench (spanner), purchase a wrench in the specific size of the tuning nuts on the drums. Using an adjustable wrench for tuning can be quite annoying.
 

bpaluzzi

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Firstly the original poster presumably wants more help and advice than “it doesn’t matter”.

Nobody's saying "it doesn't matter"

Secondly the page I linked to is talking about choosing between standard sized drums, which start at 11” for the Quinto. This information is widely available eg on Wikipedia “The quinto is typically around 11 inches across”
The page specifically calls out the 9 3/4" requinto.

You’re entitled to hold your opinion, but I’m trying to give the OP some links to check into themselves rather than relying on one person’s opinion.

Yes, you're definitely entitled to your opinion.
 

Marting

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The page specifically calls out the 9 3/4" requinto
Yes it specifically calls out the requinto as not being one of the main sizes!

“There are three main sizes - the quinto (small/high), conga (medium/middle), & tumbadora (large/low). There are two additional sizes that LP makes. One is called the requinto (9 3/4") ...“

The requinto is too small for proper hand positioning (except for children).

On a different note (and to change the subject) I would recommend “a percussion life” YouTube channel for good beginner instructional material.
 

romanium14

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Thanks for all the replies, like I said those are my options. I found I can get the Natal Fuego series as well for 100usd cheaper than the aspire. Anybody know anything about that brand? I live in sweden, very few people play conga drums here so there aren't almost any used congas to buy. The closest I can get an used drum is from germany but just the shipping is like 100-120usd. Like I said I'm a complete beginner and I would only be playing the congas at home for my own entertainment or maybe later with some friend with acoustic guitar.
 

romanium14

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Can you get to a music store and try any out? Obviously that would help. Also, look for better quality used congas nearby if that's a possibility. But if that's not possible, I think they all would do what you need them to do, so there's no wrong choice. Both Meinl and LP are good brands. The LP Aspires are about US $130 more than the City series - so slightly cheaper materials, I assume. Will that make a difference in your enjoyment, or make a difference in what you as a beginner or others hear? I don't know, but probably not much if at all.

Do the Meinls have a double stand or two single stands? What do you prefer?

Finally, looks matter - if they look and feel good to you you're more likely to be motivated to play.

Let us know what you decide.
Do you know anything about the natal fuego congas? Or the natal brand in general? Is the natal fuego on par with the lp aspire?
 

Mapex Always

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Don’t get any 10 inch congas. They are toys. Better to get a second hand pair of matadors.

In all fairness, @bpaluzzi suggested a set of drums which includes , what you’re calling “the proper size” for the OP - an 11” drum , just so happens to also include a 10” drum.

I am in agreement that if the OP is going to get a drum to learn on , it should be an 11” Conga ,, To be more accurate , the best out there , would be an 11.75” drum to learn on.

I’ve been playing Congas for over 30 years ,, and for over 20 of those years I have played them , in what I would call , a “professional” atmosphere. And , the 9.75” drum is an absolute! To say anything different would be , for lack of a better term , “ignorant”. That drum is an accent landscape ,, has “mountains of space” for even the biggest hand players.

Many of the best players in the world play that size drum (Requinto) along with Ricardo’s and Junior’s ,, and not just highly profiled LP pros. We’re talking about drums that are 9.75” , 9”, 8” all the way down to 7.75” … and these drums are anything besides toys :)

Even myself playing for 30 years on these instruments never thought the need, or just being “ignorant” myself, for a Super Tumba 14” drum ,,, always thought to myself , whatever I could play on that drum I could easily just re-create on a 12.5” Tumba …. Man was I wrong!! Over the past 10 months I got my self a Super Tumba , and it is quite possibly the best drum I own - hand percussion, stick percussion, or traditional kit.

This set up here is 14” all the way down to 7.25” , And 1,000,000% professional grade across the board.


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3927940B-1D1F-43E2-B697-98D751A5357D.jpeg
 

Marting

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Thanks for all the replies, like I said those are my options. I found I can get the Natal Fuego series as well for 100usd cheaper than the aspire. Anybody know anything about that brand? I live in sweden, very few people play conga drums here so there aren't almost any used congas to buy. The closest I can get an used drum is from germany but just the shipping is like 100-120usd. Like I said I'm a complete beginner and I would only be playing the congas at home for my own entertainment or maybe later with some friend with acoustic guitar.
If I was in your position I would get a single 11 3/4” or 11” conga, second-hand if necessary. Avoid the very cheapest brands if you can because the metal hardware tends to break or bend. You can add more drums later if you want. You can do a lot with one drum eg This
 

Mapex Always

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In all fairness, @bpaluzzi suggested a set of drums which includes , what you’re calling “the proper size” for the OP - an 11” drum , just so happens to also include a 10” drum.

I am in agreement that if the OP is going to get a drum to learn on , it should be an 11” Conga ,, To be more accurate , the best out there , would be an 11.75” drum to learn on.

I’ve been playing Congas for over 30 years ,, and for over 20 of those years I have played them , in what I would call , a “professional” atmosphere. And , the 9.75” drum is an absolute! To say anything different would be , for lack of a better term , “ignorant”. That drum is an accent landscape ,, has “mountains of space” for even the biggest hand players.

Many of the best players in the world play that size drum (Requinto) along with Ricardo’s and Junior’s ,, and not just highly profiled LP pros. We’re talking about drums that are 9.75” , 9”, 8” all the way down to 7.75” … and these drums are anything besides toys :)

Even myself playing for 30 years on these instruments never thought the need, or just being “ignorant” myself, for a Super Tumba 14” drum ,,, always thought to myself , whatever I could play on that drum I could easily just re-create on a 12.5” Tumba …. Man was I wrong!! Over the past 10 months I got my self a Super Tumba , and it is quite possibly the best drum I own - hand percussion, stick percussion, or traditional kit.

This set up here is 14” all the way down to 7.25” , And 1,000,000% professional grade across the board.


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Hey! Sorry for using the word “ignorant” , I just reread my post and it sounded kind of mean , that was rather ignorant of me lol :)


Anyway , love this video.

 


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