Darbuka Buying Guide

Gawharet El Fan are committed to helping you at every stage of your Darbuka journey. 


This buying guide will help you decide which instrument is best for you! In summary, there are two sizes of Darbuka we sell, and within each size there are slightly different styles that are available, resulting in different prices.  

Step 1: Choose your Darbuka Size

These are the two Darbuka types we have available:

    • Head diameter - 22 cm
    • This is a standard size Darbuka, the size it has been for centuries past and will be for centuries to come. It is characterised by beautiful resonant high notes, and fantastically deep low notes.
    • Head diameter - 23 cm
    • The Sombaty is about 10% larger than a Darbuka. This gives it 30% more weight, and hence creates more powerful sounds. 
    Technical Differences

    Let's compare these two sizes to make a better decision as to which is best. This table is representative of the typical Darbuka and Sombaty models that we sell, which are far superior to most other Darbukas available on the market. As such, not all Darbuka and Sombaty models elsewhere will reach these high standards. 


    Weight 4.7 kg 6.1 kg
    Head Width 22 cm 23 cm
    Total Width 28 cm 30 cm
    Height 45 cm 48 cm
    Shell Material Aluminium Aluminium
    Shell Layers Two (double reinforced)
    Two (double reinforced)
    Head Material Plastic (with metal crimplock)
    Plastic (with metal crimplock)
    Tuning System Internal Internal
    Tuning Lugs 6 6


    As can be seen, the Sombaty is larger than the standard Darbuka. The key difference is in the weight, as while the head diameter is only 1 cm bigger, it weighs 1.4 kg more, a 30% increase. Practically speaking, the Sombaty definitely feels bigger. 

    Practical Differences

    Let's compare the more practical elements of each size to understand which is better. 


    Size Standard size that the Darbuka has been made in for centuries. The best all round size.  Larger sized Darbuka that larger bodied Darbuka players will feel comfortable with and be able to handle. 
    Tradition Very traditional; the size that the Darbuka has always been known for. This size could trace it's way all the way back to even the Babylonian period.  Modern style which came into common production when improved machinery and access to higher quality metal made it easier to work with larger Darbukas.
    Sound Quality The classic Darbuka sound, great all round with deep Doum strokes and high pitched Tek and Ka strokes.  An incredibly improved sound quality, with Doum, Tek and Ka strokes resonating significantly better because of the increased skin surface area, and 30% increased weight. 

    Which is best?

    Both our Darbuka and Sombaty Darbuka models are of incredible quality. Either of these sizes are good enough to gig with on stage, record with in a recording studio or to jam casually with friends. However, the sound of the Sombaty Darbuka is significantly better. You would be very hard pressed to find a Darbuka that beats our Sombaty Darbuka range; they are phenominal sounding instruments. Read about our Export Grade products if you're after the best of the best.


    The best all round

    Sombaty models are expensive, harder to play and a challenge to handle if you're a younger or smaller sized person. For this reason, we have invested significantly in improving our Darbuka models and making them incredible. Our Pearl Hues collection that we released this year is an incredible collection of fantastic sounding Darbukas. We would highly recommend our standard 22cm Darbuka models to all Darbuka players and we are 100% confident that they will be more than satisfied with them. 


    If you're a larger sized person

    However, in our opinion, if you're medium to large sized person you would see significant benefits of playing a Sombaty Darbuka as opposed to a standard Darbuka. They have more surface area which means you can do more with them, and they produce a significantly better sound. The difference in sound is clearly noticeable. They are more expensive, but definitely a worthwhile investment. 


    Step 2: Choose your design

    After choosing your ideal size, the next thing to consider is the design of your Darbuka. Darbukas are known for their incredible designs, and our Darbukas have some of the most incredible designs in the world. 

    The design of your Darbuka should be individual to you, and you should choose something that resonates with you. The differences in price simply represent the level of skill required to make the design or the materials used in the production of the instrument. 

    The 22cm Darbuka Range

    There are 3 primary collections in the 22cm Darbuka range:


    Collection Price Description
    Ivory Pearl $$ A classic Darbuka collection using white Mother of Pearl to create stunning designs.
    Pearl Hues $$ A new release for 2020 using a combination of white Mother of Pearl pieces and gloss paints to make amazing coloured designs. 
    Emerald Pearl $$$ Our most premium 22cm Darbuka range, using the highest quality emerald coloured Mother of Pearl pieces imported from New Zealand. These emerald coloured Mother of Pearl pieces are very rare and thus more expensive. 


    The 23cm Sombaty Range

    There are 3 primary collections in the 23cm Sombaty range:


    Collection Price Description
    Mother of Pearl $$$ A classic Sombaty collection using white Mother of Pearl to create stunning designs.
    Blue Mother of Pearl $$$$ A premium collection using over 1.5kg of coloured Mother of Pearl pieces from New Zealand per drum to create phenominal Sombaty Darbuka designs. 
    Artisan Designs $$$$ A collection combining incredible technical Darbuka expertise with artisan designs made by Egyptian artists. These Darbukas look truly extraordinary, and no expense is spared to ensure they're perfect. 



    Simply choose which size is right for you, and based on this, choose a design you love! If you're unsure of which Darbuka to purchase, we invite you to Contact Us so that one of our Darbuka experts can advise exactly what Darbuka is the perfect Darbuka for you. 

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