What Materials Can the Darbuka be Made of?

Different types of Darbuka available

There are many types of Darbuka available on the market today. We have different materials, different sizes, and even different shapes (read our Darbuka Buying Guide if these differences are troubling your purchasing decisions). Let’s explore some of these and see what’s what.

Note that the type of Darbuka you buy can affect the type of skin you buy so make sure to look into our blog post covering Darbuka skins in detail! 

Wood Darbukas are a thing of the past

These are rare to come by, and when you do find them, they tend to be quite terrible. We wouldn't recommend getting a wood Darbuka. They are often on the shelves of street sellers on the streets of Cairo, and these "instruments" are considered souvenirs at best.


Clay Darbukas can be amazing but are challenging to maintain

Some may say that since Darbukas were traditionally made of clay, that these are the best kind of Darbuka. The reality is that Darbukas were also traditionally played in deserts, where it was always hot and dry. Nowadays, the Darbuka is played around the world where there are a multitude of different temperatures and humidities to consider. Herein lies the core problem of the clay Darbuka; the skin is tied to the body using rope, and the skin is usually a natural animal skin. This type of roped skin clay Darbuka may lose its tension should the humidity increase, which is a real problem in most parts of Europe and the US. It's also very fragile, which means if you hit it against something hard or drop it, it will likely crack and break beyond repair. If you're a beginner, this choice of Darbuka may be unwise.




That's not to say that clay Darbukas aren't a wonder to play. One of our experts, Ibraheem personally has a clay Doholla which he uses and plays all the time. However, it was hand-made, costly and is prone to damage. He, therefore, doesn't travel with this Doholla where possible. It also requires that an adjustable heat source is placed inside the Doholla (usually a light bulb) to keep the skin tight and playable in all climates. As such, you need a socket available to play this Doholla!


A Bass Doholla


Metal Darbukas are convenient and sound fantastic

The invention of the metal Darbuka in the 20th century was indeed a brilliant idea. You now no longer have to worry about a Darbuka going out of tune when it's needed most, nor do you have to worry about it dropping and breaking. Parts are easy to find and fit without any professional help, and they generally sound quite good too. We recommend a metal Darbuka to all beginners trying their hand at Darbuka for the first time. After all, many of us learnt on a metal Darbuka ourselves.




A note on Turkish flat-head Darbukas

The Turkish Darbuka is an interesting spin on the classic round-headed design of the Arabic Darbuka. The Turkish Darbuka is characterised by its flat head with sharp edges and exposed tuning lugs. This flat head design makes finger snaps, and very advanced Turkish split-hand rolls more comfortable to play. They're also easier to make and so can be cheaper too. Unfortunately, they are not ideal for beginners and are optimised more for someone playing using the Turkish split-hand technique. This technique is quite an advanced style of playing that you should build up towards over some years. As such, a typical beginner would be better off with a standard Arabic Darbuka at the start of their journey.


A Turkish flat-head Darbuka


No matter what type of Darbuka you choose to buy, you're in good hands with us at Gawharet El Fan, read into our manufacturing process through our Innovation page. And if you're after the best of the best, indulge yourself with our Export Grade products.

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We pride ourselves in offering everything you could possibly need in diving into the world of Arabic music, be it instruments or knowledge. Look no further than our store for a diverse assortment of Arab instruments! Or if it's expertise you seek... check out our Darbuka Mastery Program!

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