Bongo vs Conga vs Djembe: What Are The Main Difference?

Bongo vs Conga vs Djembe What Are The Main Difference

If you are looking for a hand drum, you can consider bongo, conga, and djembe. So today, we will compare bongo vs conga vs Djembe to make your choice easier.

Bongo vs. Conga vs Djembe: Comparison Table

Once you have decided that hand drums are something you want to play, it can be challenging to choose a particular kind.

One of the beautiful things about those percussion instruments is that there is a wide range of options for you. But that can also leave you overwhelmed.

Today, we will compare three of the most popular hand drums: bongo, conga, and djembe. Let’s look at our comparison table to see how they differ.




The Origin


Common Head Sizes
  • 7” and 8.5”.
  • 11”, 11.75”, and 12.5”
  • 14”

The traditional material is the skin of some animals.

How to Play

Play by hand


The sounds of congas vs bongo drums are pretty similar.

  • Offer rich,  deep sounds.
  • Bongocero or  Bongocera
  • Tumbador, or a Conguero/Conguera.
  • Djembefola.

Bongo vs. Conga vs. Djembe: What Is the Difference?

The Origin

1. Djembe

West Africans played djembe for many generations, making it an integral part of ceremonial life in Guinea, Senegal, Mali, and neighboring West African countries.

2. Bongo and Conga

The bongo drum and conga drum were initiated in Cuba.

Their origins come with several theories that the African percussion instrument inspired these drums. Both bongo and conga adopted the current form in the 19th century.

Djembe drums are said to have been invented in the 12th Century by the Mandinka tribe in what is now Mali, West Africa.


1. Height

Regarding typical height, bongo drums are 10 inches, conga drums are 30 inches, and djembe inches are 24 inches.

2. Head Sizes

Congas typically come in drum head sizes of 11”, 11.75”, and 12.5”. Bongo is relatively smaller, with drum heads usually in standard sizes of 7” and 8.5”.

Djembe has the largest drumhead size, the most common size being 14 inches.

How to play

Bongos, conga, and djembe are hand drums. You only play with them with your hands. Avoid using sticks to play these hand drums to avoid damaging them.

But many people think it is feasible to play Bongos with sticks. In this case, you need to avoid hitting the bearing edge of their skin, as it is the easiest part to break when playing this hand drum.

Also, we recommend utilizing the lighter stick to play the hand drum. That way, you will put less strain on this drum.


People can use many different materials to make hand drum drumheads. Yet, when referring to the traditional material, it is the skin of some animals.

The most common animal skins utilized for hand drum drum heads are goat or calf skins. However, it is okay to use different kinds of animal skins.

These days, you can easily find these hand drums with the synthetic drumhead that sound different yet very consistent and strong.

This synthetic drumhead is quite similar to other drumheads on the drumset, which are several forms of plastic.


1. Congas and Bongo

The sounds of bongo and congas drums are pretty similar, and they tend to be the same to untrained ears. Yet, the bongo is higher-pitched, while the conga features deeper sounds with more percussive elements.

2. Djembe

The djembe drum will offer rich,  deep sounds.


  • The bongo player is a Bongocero or  Bongocera.
  • The conga player is a Tumbador, or a Conguero/Conguera.
  • A djembe player is Djembefola.


In the following, we will provide you with three types of price ranges:

Price Range

Quality Level

Drum Type

From $70 to $150
  • Beginner
  • Djembe (Size for Adult)
From $150 to $250
  • Intermediate
  • Djembe (Size for Adult)
$250+ or higher
  • Professional
  • Djembe (Size for Adult)
From $300 to $800
  • Beginner
  • Congas
From $800 to $1200
  • Intermediate
  • Congas
From $1200 or higher
  • Professional
  • Congas
From $40 to $90
  • Beginner
  • Bongos
From $90 to $200
  • Intermediate
  • Bongos
From $2 to $500+
  • Professional
  • Bongos

Bongo vs. Congo vs. Djembe: Which is better?

Generally, all three of these hand drums are great. You should make a choice based on your preferences and needs.

The djembe has garnered plenty of love throughout the world, and the bongo is easy to learn and suitable for beginners, while the conga is ideal for those who love Latin music.


What are four types of African drums?

Drums in Africa are available in a wide range of forms and are utilized for many functions. Yet, specific drums are far more popular than others.

The following are some of the most common types in Africa:

  1. Djembe
  2. Talking Drum
  3. Bata
  4. Ngoma
  5. Conga
  6. Djembe

Are Conga Drums From Africa?

Many accept that this drum originated in Africa.

Cuban people of African descent developed it during the late 19th century.

Its direct ancestors are thought to be the makuta and yuka (of Bantu origin) and the bembé drum (of Yoruba origin).

Are conga drums straightforward to play?

Yes. The conga drum is one of the easy-to-play hand drums.

Anyone who chooses a conga drum will prefer to spend many hours tapping away and experimenting with its sounds.

Can I play djembe with sticks?

Djembe is a type of hand drum. Therefore, playing it with your hands is wise instead of using sticks.

Are Congas And Bongos Tunable?

There’s no solid answer to it, as it will depend on the drum maker. But in most cases, these drums are tunable. These drums may feature standard keys, allowing you to tune these drums to your liking.

Can you play bongos with drumsticks?

It would be best if you didn’t play your bongos because they are designed to hand drums.

Can You Play the Bongos With Sticks?

It is best not to play bongos with sticks. But if you want, ensure you do not hit the bearing edge. Otherwise, you may end up destroying your hand drum.

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