Student Corner

Here are the basics of what you'll want to know:

What to Bring to Class

There are a few things that you should bring with you to classes:

What to Have at Home

Outside of the items above, there are a few other things to keep handy at home during your practice:

What's in a Name?

The drum commonly referred to as "doumbek" goes by many names. Some of the variability comes from specific characteristics of the drum, while others are culturally-derived. If you are interested in learning more about on this topic, I highly recommend Rhythm Web's The many names of Doumbek page.

Buying Drums

Buying drums online can often be hit or miss on quality, especially your first time out. I highly recommend going to a store in person so you can handle the drums, play them, and see what you like. I also recommend taking someone who's been through the process before, as their advice can be very helpful.

I categorize doumbeks into two major groups, Alexandria/Egyptian-style, and Turkish-style. The difference between the two is basically the curvature of where the head meets the body of the drum, and the tuning mechanism.

A Turkish-style doumbek requires more precise control of your hands to avoid hitting the tuning bolts. Also, the sharper angle where the head of a Turkish-style doumbek meets the body can be less forgiving on your hands. For these reasons I recommend an Egyptian-style doumbek for a first purchase.

You'll sometimes see doumbeks listed as Turkish that have what I consider an Egyptian/Alexandria style head and tuning. In this case, the difference is usually size: the Turkish classification will have a larger head, and will sometimes be taller. This distinction has become more prevalent over the past decade.

Also, I recommend that your first drum be cast aluminum. Pay attention to the weight. If it's too light, or too heavy, you'll spend a lot of time trying to control the drum position. Also, I recommend a plastic (generally mylar) head for your first drum. Natural-skin heads are generally harder to keep in tune.

Arlington has two places to buy doumbeks. DrumConnection, run by Alan Tauber, has a growing collection of doumbeks. He also has frequent sales, especially around the holidays. If he doesn't have what you want, he has some catalogs and can help get you what you want.

Wood and Strings in Arlington Center also has some doumbeks available, and some decent drum cases.

The Greater Boston Area also has other options. For example, Jack's Drum Shop, and the Guitar Center near Boston University campus carry doumbeks.

If you prefer shopping online, there are lots of options, some better than others.

If you find other good online stores or Boston-area shops, let me know so I can add them to this list for other students.

Most doumbek purchases come with a case (generally cheap but functional), a spare drum head, and a tuning wrench. If you find something you like and it doesn't come with those items, ask them to include those items as part of the deal. Some may try to charge extra for that. If the case is really good (well padded, with pockets and shoulder straps), it might be worth the extra cost.

Online Resources

There are a lot of online resources for learning about the doumbek. Just to name a few:

If you find other online resources, please let me know so I can update this list.

Mailing Lists and Online Communities

There are also a number of online communities and mailing lists that you can use.

If you find other online communities, please let me know so I can update this list.


My wife Aslahan has an execllent list of music here.