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Buying Your First Doumbek or Darbuka?

This FAQ answers which doumbeks, or darbukas, are right for first time buyers. 

darbuka   Aluminum Doumbek drum & darbuka drums   

NOTE: In this article the term doumbek and darbuka is used interchangeably.  Overall, doumbeks and darbukas are part of a larger category of drums called Goblet Drums.  Different countries have their own name for goblet drums.  Click on Goblet Drums to learn the particular names of goblet drums from particular countries.

Question and Issue: I’m considering buying my first doumbek (or darbuka), but there are so many types (aluminum, copper, brass, nickel-plated, ceramic & so on) to choose from, so I'm not sure which one to get.  Which doumbek would you recommend for a first time buyer? 

Answer: One of the most popular beginner doumbeks is the Alexandria Aluminum doumbek.  First time players like this drum because it is a moderate size, very durable and has a good range of tones.  It is a good drum to learn the basics of doumbek playing on.  It also produces quality tones so that even advanced players enjoy playing it too.  Also, it's cost is lower than most other doumbeks, which makes it a great drum for the price.

Other doumbeks that are a little more expensive than the Alexandria doumbeks, but are easy to play and have beautiful tones are the Copper Doumbeks (excluding the large ones) as well as the 8 inch or 10 inch Brass doumbeks.  In addition, these drums are also a moderate size, which is another reason why they are good beginner drums.

As with most things, you get what you pay for.  The Alexandria doumbeks are an excellent drum for the price, but the copper and brass doumbek shells are considered to produce prettier tones than the aluminum shells.

One last point, the Alexandria aluminum and the copper doumbeks have one advantage over the brass doumbeks.  The advantage is that the Alexandria and copper doumbeks have curved rims and this type of rim is a little softer on the fingers & hands while playing.  Nonetheless, all three styles are good beginner drums for the reasons indicated above.

What about Ceramic Doumbeks?

Ceramic doumbeks produce beautiful tones.  They are a little warmer in timbre than many metal doumbek and are as easy to play as the above mentioned drums.  However, ceramic doumbeks are fragile and thus, are much less durable than any metal doumbek.  If you travel with the ceramic drum, then a padded bag is needed.   For a first doumbek I would NOT recommend a ceramic drum since it is more fragile and less versatile than the metal drums.  After you get your first metal doumbek, and if you enjoy playing, then I would recommend a ceramic drum for it's beautiful, warm tone and physical appearance.

If you have questions, please contact us.  Enjoy the music!


Doumbeks & Darbukas