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Cuban Bombo

PostPosted: Fri Jul 27, 2012 10:39 pm
by KidCuba
Any suggestions on where I could get a Cuban style bombo drum in the U.S. for comparasa and Mozambique rhythms ?

Re: Cuban Bombo

PostPosted: Sat Jul 28, 2012 12:03 am
by jorge
Most Cubans in the US and in Cuba use floor toms or other similar commercially made drums, with a strap around the neck so you can muffle the skin with one hand and play while walking. Even Afrocuba de Matanzas used a floor tom for their bombo when they came to the US. At the rumbas in La Esquina Habanera and in the Cuban day parade in Union City we used a floor tom with a tympani mallet for a bombo in the conga de comparsa. The guy playing bombo really knows how to play it and it sounded great on the floor tom. We used a tumbadora for rebajador, but there are different size bombo drums that are sometimes used for that part in comparsas in Cuba. Very few Afrocuban rumberos and bataleros really know how to play bombo well, not to mention non-Cuban drummers. There are a lot of bombo patterns and variations, and playing the bombo part right is critical to making the conga de comparsa sound like a real conga. The key is the drummer not the drum.

True bombo drums are very rare in the US. Several years ago, Rogelio Kindelan (Ñoño) had a few from Santiago that he brought to the Humboldt Afrocuban workshop, and that he uses for performances. If he still has them and you can track him down, he might be willing to sell you one, but it will probably be very expensive since he would have to get another one made in Santiago and then go get it. He is up at Humboldt right now, and I think he is based in the Bay area. I don't know of any US drum artisans who make or have made bombo drums, and finding and mounting good skins is not trivial. You are best off buying a floor tom, learning to play bombo on that and if you really get into it and have enough people in your group of rumberos who can play the other parts, over the next few years look around to find a real bombo in the US or in Cuba. Learn to play bombo on a tom and it will be easy to transfer that to a real bombo when you can get one.

Short of going to Cuba, your best bet would be to go to Humboldt next year, assuming Ñoño will be teaching again, and get him to show you some parts. Or track him down during the year and take some classes with him, this year I don't think he taught Conga Santiaguera at Humboldt. There may be someone in LA who really knows how to play bombo and conga Habanera, is Cusito still there? The conga de comparsa Santiaguera really rocks, and the parts including the bombo part are very different from those from the conga Habanera. You need to learn the other parts too so you can really feel how they all fit together and how the bombo fits in.

Re: Cuban Bombo

PostPosted: Sat Jul 28, 2012 11:41 am
by Thomas Altmann
Kid Cuba,

floor toms are common for the stage. If you want one for a comparsa, try to get old (I mean really old) drumset bass drums from junior trap kits of the 30s, or try Brazilian zabumbas like of the Gope brand. There is also a type of shallow marching bass drum known as Scotch (bass) drum. There are some affordable offers. Use your favorite search machine ...



Re: Cuban Bombo

PostPosted: Sat Jul 28, 2012 2:30 pm
by KidCuba
Jorge and Thomas,

Thanks for the response! A floor tom it is!

What are your feelings on a surdo? I have seen a few people us it....

And Jorge, Conga Santiaguera has a tremendous swing - but nobody out here seems to know how to play it...

Re: Cuban Bombo

PostPosted: Sat Jul 28, 2012 2:46 pm
by jorge
I never heard anyone play a surdo in a conga, I have played one in a samba group many years ago. It might work, I don't know, it might be a little boomy with too much sustain. But if you can't find some Cubans who can play conga the drum doesn't matter.
See what the people you play with know, probably conga habanera if anything, learn all the parts, and focus on one part to really master. When you find some Santiagueros who can play, learn from them.

Re: Cuban Bombo

PostPosted: Sat Jul 28, 2012 2:56 pm
by JohnnyConga
MAKE ONE! hard can it be?...

Re: Cuban Bombo

PostPosted: Sat Jul 28, 2012 4:45 pm
by jorge
Pretty hard if you have never played one or even seen a real one. "Playing one on TV" doesn't count. First things first. I suggest learning to play the part on a floor tom, find and play some real bombos someday, look carefully at how they were made, size, shape, skins, tuning, weight, carrying straps, etc. Once you see and feel how they were made, then think about making one.

Re: Cuban Bombo

PostPosted: Sat Jul 28, 2012 6:35 pm
by Derbeno
Come to think of it, Raices Habanera used a Surdo sponsored by LP when they were here in the Bay Area a couple of months back.

Re: Cuban Bombo

PostPosted: Sun Jul 29, 2012 10:21 pm
by KidCuba
Thank you all for the advice and opinions, I will practice bombo patterns on a floor Tom for now.

Re: Cuban Bombo

PostPosted: Mon Jul 30, 2012 1:12 am
by jorge
KidCuba wrote:Thank you all for the advice and opinions, I will practice bombs patterns on a floor Tom for now.

BOMBO, not bombs. Cuidado asere, you might attract the wrong kind of internet attention with typos like that! Yeah, get yourself a floor tom and a big tympani mallet. Use your free hand on the top skin, not the bottom skin, to muffle the bombo.

Start with this. Learn all the parts and make sure you got clave right. That is conga not mozambique. Thanks to Mr. Clave for putting Congas por Barrios up on YouTube.

Here is where you want to go. Doesn't get better than that, lots of variations. Start with tres golpes until you internalize where everything else fits with clave. Don't underestimate salidor. Learn all those coros. Find some Cubans in LA who know those songs and can play bombo, rebajador, sartenes, and conga. Anduriña no seas mala, lleva me contigo pa la Habana... Agua!

Re: Cuban Bombo

PostPosted: Mon Jul 30, 2012 1:55 am
by KidCuba
Darn iPad auto-correct function gets me in trouble all the time ;)

Thanks for the links, interesting recording from Pello.

I talk to a few Cubans who know a lot about Comparsa Habanera, so I will be picking their brains in the next few days. For the most part I have been rumba "crazy" for most of my time as a student, but the comparsas and mozambique have been getting into my head - they have a really nice swing. There was one played to mark the end of Rincon Rumbero (our open rumba in L.A.) two months ago and I caught the bug. And those recordings and videos with the corneta china, take it to a whole different level!

I went onto CongaMasterClass to review some of the parts there, and noticed Spiro playing this...

Mozambique Overview and Parts - Page 4 - CongaMasterClass.jpg

Is that a mass produced bombo? Or some other drum that was "tweaked"?

Mala maña, tu tiene mala maña!

Re: Cuban Bombo

PostPosted: Mon Jul 30, 2012 4:12 am
by jorge
Yeah, that "feature" of the iPad is very annoying, there must be some way to stop it, I just don't know how yet.
Email Michael Spiro and ask him what that drum is and if he knows who might be selling a bombo. I doubt it is a mass produced bombo, I don't think there is enough market in the US to mass produce them. He might have Ñoño's email. Keep us posted. Don't underestimate that record by Pello, just make sure you know exactly where clave is, the timing is so tight it gets tricky when he plays parts alone.
Siento un bombo mamita, me esta llamando. Si, si, son los Dandys...

Re: Cuban Bombo

PostPosted: Mon Jul 30, 2012 4:49 pm
by tamboricua
That drum Spiro is playing looks to me like a Brazilian Zabumba, it even has a Black Napa head on it.

I had never seen a "traditional" Cuban Bombo with a Napa head on it.

Hope this helps!!!


Re: Cuban Bombo

PostPosted: Fri Aug 03, 2012 4:07 am
by KidCuba
Well I did some hunting and asking around and it seems most people who are familiar with comparsa and Mozambique use floor toms or surdos in these parts...

I was able to go over to Troy Parker's class in L.A. this week, and he was working on Mozambique with his students. I already had most the parts down, and it was good practice. Got swinging pretty good, we just needed some songs and coros. On this occasion a surdo was used...

Thanks for all the insight and advise...

Re: Cuban Bombo

PostPosted: Fri Aug 03, 2012 12:53 pm
by niallgregory
Folks i would try and not get to hung up on what kind of bass drum you are using to play the bombo parts on . A zabumba would do the job big time as would a floor tom . I had an amazing time in La Habana playing Conga Habanera with Los componedores de Batea , a real eye opener to say the least . Its an incredible rhythm especially when played at the tempo they are playing at carnival these days . I cut an old wooden 22 inch surdo to the dimensions i seen and played in havana , it has a remo fiber skin but it does the job .