The talking drum can be traced back centuries and is a musical instrument that produces one of the most unique sounds.
While they are most likely used in West Africa, their popularity has spread across the world to the extent that bands such as King Crimson and Fleetwood Mac have played a talking drum on album tracks.
We will review some of the best that are currently on sale and highlight their features, their pros, and their cons.
Best Talking Drums Reviews
Meinl African Talking Drum
Our first review is the Meinl Talking Drum, and anyone looking for a talking drum made with high-quality materials will be impressed by how well-made this is.
Often you will find traditional musical instruments made with cheap materials; however, the Meinl talking drum is not one of these. Instead, it is made with natural, high-quality materials, making it look stunning and enhancing the sounds it produces.
It is handcrafted with the drum’s main body carved from a single piece of mahogany to produce a solid and durable drum. Its shape is that of an hourglass, and the carved design on the exterior gives this drum an outstanding appearance.
Goatskin heads have been used at each end of the drum. These are stretched and held in place using nylon ropes that extend along the drum’s entire length.
It is these nylon ropes that, when squeezed by the player, allow for different tones to be produced when the drum is played.
As for playing the drum, you can use your hands, but to play it authentically, you will want to use the curved wooden striker which comes with the drum.
You can select the large drum, or there’s a medium option that might suit children. Either option is competitively priced, and as such, this would make an unusual, but undoubtedly, a cherished gift.
- Made from solid mahogany
- Hand-carved finish
- Genuine goatskin drumheads
- Size options
- Excellent gift idea
- Too big for some to hold comfortably
- Striker often sent separately
Africa Hardwood Project Classic Dondo Talking Drum
As well as the sound’s quality, many will be looking for authenticity, and that is exactly what you sense when you see and experience this talking drum from the Africa Heartwood Project.
Many people will want a talking drum not just for playing but also for its visual appeal, especially given its African cultural heritage. That’s why we believe this talking drum will be hugely popular, as its appearance has undoubtedly been kept as close to many original drums of this type.
It is constructed from a single piece of Nyame Due wood, which is native to Africa, and this, along with the fact it is hand-carved by highly skilled craftspeople whose home is in West Africa, adds even more to the authenticity to this talking drum.
Buying this drum helps sustain and fund local craftspeople in Africa and contributes to humanitarian work there.
When you strike the drum, it will be on the drumhead, made from genuine sheepskin, which ensures that the sounds created are as natural as possible.
The sound adjustments are made by squeezing the drum and moving the synthetic ropes tied to either end of the drum. The beating stick, which is required to play the drum, is also included.
- Hand-carved by native craftspeople
- Made from local Nyame Dua wood
- Real goatskin drumhead
- One-piece construction
- Striker stick included
- Drumhead diameter is small
- Shows marks and grime easily
Overseas Connection African Talking Drum
Next, we look at another talking drum that looks as authentic as they come, and we also love the sheer simplicity of this drum which, along with the excellent price, makes it an ideal gift.
One aspect of this talking drum that not every drum has is its durability. One way that is achieved is that the number of vertical tuning ropes is more than most drums.
These chords are also made from strong rope, further adding to its durability.
The drum’s main carcass has the traditional hourglass shape, and when you hold the drum, it is clear that the quality of the wood used is high.
The hide drumhead produces an excellent sound, and there is further evidence of the excellent workmanship in the stitching around the drumhead’s circumferences.
As well as the striker being included, the value for money this talking drum offers is excellent, meaning it is an excellent option for beginners or for those looking for an unusual gift that will undoubtedly be gratefully received by those to whom it is given.
- Authentic design
- Enhanced strength tuning ropes
- Genuine hide drumhead
- Striker included
- Excellent value for money
- Not easy to keep clean
- No hand carvings
Shalindia Damaru Indian Folk Percussion Instrument
While this might not strictly be a talking drum, it is played in much the same way. It provides an excellent alternative, especially if you want to experience playing a drum from India instead of Africa.
One of the great pleasures of playing the drum is being able to tap out beats and accompanying others while they might be singing or dancing, and this Damaru drum allows you to do just that … enjoy it.
Like many of the African talking drums we have looked at, it is handcrafted, albeit in India, and made from natural materials. The wood used for the drum’s main body and its polished finish provide it with a high level of beauty.
The drumheads are made from leather, and the fact there are two of them means that fast beat combinations can be played on them.
Those beats can either be made by your fingers or hands; more often than not, the beads tied to cords on each end of the drum are used.
This can mean that the method of playing is more a twisting action as you hold the drum rather than a simple, striking action.
Again, this is a drum that would be an excellent gift, either for someone who might like to play it or its decorative and ethnic design.
- The body is made from quality wood
- Genuine leather drumheads
- It can be played in multiple ways
- Ideal decorative gift
- Very low price
- Smaller than other drums
- No note or tone variation
Remo Talking Drum
Our fifth and final review is the Remo Talking Drum designed around Senegal’s Tama drum; this means you have authenticity in its sounds and appearance.
What sets this talking drum apart from others is that it is made by Remo. This company specializes in drum manufacturing and knows what materials to use to create the best possible sounds. Not everything is natural, but the sound is more than most other talking drums.
The drum body is made from Remo’s patented Acousticon shell. While this is not 100% natural wood, the exterior belies that, given it has a beautiful, polished finish that would not look out of place on the finest wooden coffee table.
The materials used to make Acousticon include recycled wood and fiber.
The drumheads are also manufactured, and these are Remo’s trademarked Skyndeep Ultratac drumheads with a lizard effect graphic to give them additional character.
If you are looking for something genuinely traditional, the vertical ropes used for tuning are made from conventional rope. The final feature to mention is the shoulder strap that attaches to either end of the drum.
- Acousticon shell
- Polished, antique wood finish
- Skyndeep Ultratac lizard graphic drumhead
- Traditional rope tuners
- Shoulder strap
- Not the cheapest
- Few natural materials
Hopefully, our reviews of the best talking drums have shed more light on these beautiful musical instruments and helped you get somewhat closer to selecting one to buy.
As we always do in our reviews, we pick a top choice, and that accolade goes to the first one we reviewed, the Meinl African Talking Drum.
For us, it has the perfect combination of quality and sound; it has a beautiful hand-carved finish that makes this as much a highly desirable decorative item as it does a musical instrument and confirms it as our pick for the best talking drum.