Just like others such as the triangle, the tambourine is part of this group of instruments that are often either:
- looked down upon
- ignored, or simply…
- not even noticed when played on a track
But this fame is proportionate to its ubiquitousness: it is present on virtually EVERY music ever created, from all around the world, and from all time periods.
Every single culture/country has its own variant of the tambourine, or a similar handheld drum…
From the most simple and cheapest plastic frame with nothing but zills to the more complex Arab riq or Brazilian pandeiro.
So first of all, before choosing a tambourine, be sure to know what you are looking for:
- Are you a lead singer who wants to play some rhythm while singing?
- Are you a drummer who wants to add some texture to your beats?
- Are you a percussionist seeking for a more complete instrument, possibly to play whole rhythms with it?
Well, all of these are possible thanks to the wonders of the tambourine! But seriously though, there is most likely a model of tambourine that suits your needs.
And so for this article I decided to compile a list of the most popular, and useful tambourines currently available on the market.
Sounds good? Then let’s start.
1. Remo TA-5210-70
Best selling tambourine model ever, the Remo TA-5210-70 is also probably the best tambourine you can get to get started, for these reasons:
- It sounds good – with Remo’s Acousticon shell and Fiberkyn drumhead
- It is durable – you get the quality of the world’s most famous drumhead manufacturer
- It is affordable – it’s one of the best bang for your buck available
It is also available in 3 colors: black, white and red.
Check it out:
Next up, a drummer’s favorite…
2. Luvay 9″ Double Row Tambourine
Here’s a “frame only” tambourine. This type of tambourine is made to be played in a different fashion than the previous model as it doesn’t have any drumhead.
This particular model owes its reputation to 2 things:
- Its build quality – it’s super sturdy and resistant
- Its price – it’s insanely cheap
It’s the type of tambourine you often see rock singers use while performing and singing, you might remember Oasis’ frontman Liam Gallagher often using one of these, just like the video below:
However, if you’re a drummer you might also be familiar with this type of tambourines: many gospel/hip hop drummers use them on their hi-hat cymbals to add some texture to their beats.
Check out Chris Dave rocking them:
Check it out:
- Luvay Double Row Tambourine – (Amazon)
If you are a drummer looking for a specifically designed hi-hat tambourine… Well it does exists (I personally didn’t know that).
And the main advantage it offers over regular tambourine is that it remains silent when you play the hi-hat with a stick, whereas a regular tambourine loosely placed on top of your hi-hat will “go off” whenever you play your hi-hat (stick and foot)
Check it out:
3. LP Foot Tambourine
Here’s something a little bit different…
If the previous was a drummer’s favorite, it’s pretty safe to say this model is a guitarist’s favorite, for the simple fact that it’s a “hand-free” tambourine.
By creating a “foot tambourine”, Latin Percussion enabled many musicians to raise their playing capability to another level by keeping their hand clear.
For example, many cajon players love these foot tambourines because they add yet another layer of sound to their playing. Check out this video to hear what it might sound like:
And while there are dozens of models of foot tambourines, NONE is as well reviewed as LP’s, and you will have to look HARD if you want to find a bad review.
Check it out:
4. CP by LP Tunable Tambourine
As we go (a little bit) more upmarket, let’s take a look at a tambourine that offers a few more features.
First, it is tunable. That’s right, you are actually free to choose the EXACT pitch you want, thanks to 8 tuning keys, just like the ones you would find on a regular drumset.
Second, it has a metal frame, as opposed to plastic for the previous models, which provides added durability.
And finally, it sports 2 rows of jingles for an even louder and richer sound.
All these features actually make this tambourine a very solid “pandeiro” for playing samba for example, as shown in the video below:
Check it out:
5. Remo Riq Tambourine
Among the various different types and origins of the tambourine, one of the most popular one is the riq.
This Arab tambourine is very popular in middle-eastern music, and is actually one (several?) step(s) above the rest in terms of build quality.
Traditionally made of expensive and rare materials such as shark skin for the head and mother of pearl inlays, today’s non traditional riqs are usually made with synthetic materials that replicate the visuals of the traditional ones.
So keep in mind these are high-end instruments which you play using very complex techniques, as shown in the video below:
Check it out:
6. LP Brazilian Wood Pandeiro
The “pandeiro” is the typica Brazilian tambourine used in samba music, among others. LP’s take on this instrument has been praised thanks to various features:
- its tunability
- its built quality – the shell is made out of hardwood, providing the pandeiro with unmistakeable, rich and warm sound.
- its synthetic, double ply head – double ply heads provide added durability, remove overtones, offer a more defined attack and a longer sustain.
To get a better idea how it sounds, take a look at this video:
- Click here to check prices: (Amazon)
Also check out REMO’s high end, much lighter pandeiro with copper jingles and skyndeep goat head producing lower bass:
And for the final pick…
7. Remo Layne Redmond Signature Series
For the final pick of this list I wanted to include the signature line from late American tambourine virtuoso Layne Redmond.
If you don’t know Layne Redmond, just know she was probably the most famous female drummer ever, and actually the ONLY ONE to have made it to famous drum magazine Drum!‘s list of best drummers of the 1990’s…
Along names such as Tony Williams, Elvin Jones or Roy Haynes.
Her worked reached peak fame with the publishing of her book When the Drummers Were Women in 1997.
And since she primarily focused on handheld drums, needless to say she was the perfect fit to develop her own signature line of tambourines.
Which is exactly what she did together with famous drumhead manufacturer Remo. They came out with 3 models, each with a different size:
- The Riq tambourine – the smallest tambourine of the line with a 9″ diamater, it has a high pitched tone.
- The Lotus tambourine – with a 10″ diameter, it is slightly larger and has the “standard” tambourine size
- The Tar-Rine tambourine – which is a Tar drum, a traditional Turkish tambourine. With a diameter of 12″ it produces a deeper, lower sound.
And if you’re curious to hear what they sound like, why not let the master herself make a demonstration?
Check them out:
And That’s It
So there you go guys, The 7 Best Tambourines for Curious Musicians.
Hopefully you’ve seen enough options to find the right one for you.
‘Til next time.