How to buy an used percussion conga drum?
How to choose an used percussion conga set?
Where to buy used tumbadoras?
Let’s face it: buying a new conga set is not an easy decision also because of the cost of our beloved percussion drum!
For both beginners and experienced conga players, the option to buy an used set should be at least taken into consideration.
For a beginner, a good used conga is generally better than a cheap new one. And why not save some money on the drum and use it for a DVD, a book or even better some percussion lessons? 🙂
For the advanced and experienced conguero, saving some money, have the possibility to change conga set more or even owning different sets for different occasions can be appealing.
In this article you’ll find some tips that hopefully can help you buying a good used conga, knowing where to look at to asses the condition of the drum and avoid bad surprises!
Think what you want
Before start looking for an used *anything*, decide what would you like to have.
Are you looking for a conga. a tumba or a quinto? Do you want a set or single drum? any preference on the brand? And, what is your budget?
For beginners, it’s recommended to have a conga (or segundo) as a first drum, that sooner or later will pair with a tumba to have a 2 piece set.
Quinto, the smallest sized percussion drum, is cheaper because of the size but is normally used for soloing and is not what a beginner wants to start with.
Where to buy?
The usual options: internet or a music shop.
Online, Craiglist and e-Bay are the well-known places for second hand stuff – including percussion congas.
The best is to find someone in your area, I would not buy an used conga that I can’t see, touch and play beforehand!
Usual rules about dealing with unknown sellers apply.
In a music shop, if big enough and with some luck, you may find some interesting option and you have 2 strong advantages:
1. you can try and compare, in the shop, the used drums also with a new one. This is just great.
2. you can (generally) trust the seller and have some warranty
The best thing is trying both approaches: check the local shops and online as well. See what is around. Take your time to investigate more about the models available. Analyze and try as many congas you can, then decide.
What to buy?
Or we should say: what NOT to buy??
We don’t recommend used entry level models, like LP Aspire, Pearl Primero or unknown brand. Yes, they can be the real bargain in price but with a more expensive congas you get better quality, both in sound and in hardware (to know more about the hardware of a conga check our article “Percussion Conga Anatomy“!).
We don’t recommend congas used in a music school either, mainly because they are often mistreated and not carefully handled and stored…
Conga shells are made by either wood or fiberglass, to help choosing the right material for you read our article WOOD vs FIBERGLASS CONGA.
What to check
Luckily, congas have no engine or any other hidden part that can’t be observed 🙂
So, first of all check the status of the shell, both outside and inside. A portable flashlight will do the trick and you will look well prepared in the eyes of the seller.
If it’s a fiberglass shell check if there are dents, if it’s wood check for cracks, anyway look for anything strange in the body of the conga.
In the picture on the right, a perfect (and very new) wooden shell from the inside.
Remember that the wood of a conga shell is user constant pressure, so any little damage can have dramatic consequences!
Then you can check the metal parts (lugs, rim, etc.) looking for rust.
LP congas have the tendency to become rusty if not properly maintained, like the conga in the picture here below.
Try to tune the conga checking every bolt in the lugs, to see if the lugs are not damaged or the parts too rusty. Some oil can be required if the congas has not be tuned in a long time and stored in a humid place.
Then, what is left if the conga head, the skin.
While keeping in mind that the skin is a replaceable part, if the conga you’re checking needs a new skin you should consider 3 things:
1. the added cost required for the new skin
2. you’ll have first to buy the conga, then to change the skin to finally check the sound
3. a damaged skin can indicates that the conga wasn’t treated with love… check the pictures below to see what I mean 🙂
Good look finding your next conga… and no matter how new it will be… SUENA HASTA QUE SE ROMPA EL CUERO!! 🙂
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