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Drums 101: What Are the Different Types of Drums?

Drums 101: What Are the Different Types of Drums?

Have you ever gone to a concert and absolutely loved the beat of a song? Did a drummer’s skills mesmerize you? If so, then you’ll probably enjoy learning how to play the drums. Before you begin, you’ll need to figure out which types of drums are best for you.

types of drums

In this guide, we have put together 10 of the most popular and different types of drums. You will learn about various types of hand drums and the many types of African drums also. We take you around the world to learn all about this group of musical instruments. Let’s get started.

Different Types of Drums Explained

1. Bass Drum

The bass drum is also known as a kick drum, and it is the largest drum within a set. It has a pedal, and you can play it by using your foot. The bass drum is essential for keeping the beat when playing a song in a band. Usually, the best drum is 20 to 24 inches in diameter.


  • Provides the lowest pitch in a drum set
  • Makes a deep rumbling sound
  • Played by pressing a pedal with one’s foot

2. Floor Tom

When considering the types of drums in a drum set, you can’t forget the floor tom. It is the second-largest drum found in a drum set. Three small legs usually support the floor tom, or it may adhere to a cymbal stand. The diameter of a floor tom varies from 14 to 16 inches.

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  • Has a deep tone and gives off a booming sound
  • Great for funky music and jazz
  • Sounds somewhat similar to a bass drum 

3. Bodhran Drum 

It is time to learn about different types of drums around the world. The Bodhran drum comes from Ireland and has Celtic roots. The original builders of this drum used wood and goatskin. However, in recent times, manufacturers use plastics and artificial skins to build Bodhran drums. 


  • Controllable pitch through hand movements inside the drum
  • Use either your hand or beaters to play this drum
  • Drum tension is adjustable

4. Timpani Drum

The timpani drum is currently used in orchestra music. The head of the drum is extended over a large copper bowl but it can sometimes also be made of aluminum or fiberglass. You can tune these drums by using a pedal.

This instrument was once part of military drum ensemble but has evolved and is more often used in classical music and orchestras worldwide.


  • Quick and easy to tune accurately
  • Provides a round and resonant sound upon striking
  • Can muffle notes

5. Djembe African Drum

Now it’s time to look at African drums. The Djembe originally came from West Africa, but it has since become popular and common throughout the rest of the continent. When considering different types of drums and their sounds, the Djembe stands out from the rest because it can create a wide variety of beautiful sounds.


  • Very loud and versatile drum
  • Can provide a variety of different sounds 
  • Drummers use it to tell a story and bring people together 

6. Marching Snare Drums

Marching snare drums have a deeper skin than the typical snare drum. As it’s made of Kevlar this drum is able to bear more tension and provide a much louder sound. The drummer uses two sticks to play drum rolls on the marching snare drums.


  • Strong and loud sound
  • Provides a piercing sound heard over other instruments
  • Excellent for playing drum rolls 

7. Front Ensemble Drum

The Front Ensemble drum is composed of a wide variety of percussion tools, such as bass drums, a woodblock, cymbals, drum sets, and auxiliary instruments. The type of sounds you can make with these instruments vary greatly. For instance, cymbals can be used for a loud and crashing sound or a more subtle tune when touched together gently. 


  • Provides many different sounds
  • Amplifies and projects music
  • Helps keep the beat and play a melody 

8. Bongos

Bongos are percussion instruments with African and Cuban roots. These drums are two small, open-bottomed drums connected with a strip of wood. However, one of them is slightly larger than the other. Bongo drums are eight inches in height and eight to 10 inches in diameter. 


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  • Great for keeping the beat
  • Perfect addition to Cuban music
  • Produces a higher pitch sound and able to be played by hand 

9. Congas

Conga drums are large and tall. They look similar to barrels and were also originally from Cuba. The congas are popular today in Latin music and have been commonly used in Afro-Cuban music as well. These drums have a hardwood outer shell and need a stand so for the drummer to play them comfortably.


  • A great addition to Latin music
  • Percussionists love this instrument over other drums
  • Provides both an open tone and can be used to muffle the sound

10. Tabla Drum

The tabla drum is a hand drum that originally comes from India. Today, you can hear the tabla drum in Indian classical music. These drums come in pairs and have a cylindrical shape with animal skin covering their tops. The larger one is mad with brass metal. 


  • One of the drums in the pair provides a high note
  • The larger drum provides a low sound
  • Played by hand 

Final Thoughts

With a wide variety of drums available it really is important to think about and decide on the sound you want before learning or even buying a percussion instrument.

One thing is certain – whichever you choose you will have a tonne of fun keeping a beat.