Cuba Percussion Brand Congas

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Cuba Percussion Brand Congas

Postby mpags » Sun Nov 21, 2021 8:33 pm

Anyone ever hear of this brand? There is a nice looking set listed on Facebook Marketplace in Mexico City (I live in Oaxaca) for a reasonable price, but I´ve never heard of this brand and a search revealed nothing.
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Re: Cuba Percussion Brand Congas

Postby Chtimulato » Sun Nov 21, 2021 11:09 pm

I think you forgot the picture and/or the link... :)
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Re: Cuba Percussion Brand Congas

Postby mpags » Mon Nov 22, 2021 1:15 am

I was really just inquiring about the brand. But you make a great point Chtimilato. A link with photos would help...
https://www.facebook.com/marketplace/it ... cc8f884b56
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Re: Cuba Percussion Brand Congas

Postby Chtimulato » Mon Nov 22, 2021 10:23 am

It's better with the pictures. :)

I know this side plate shape, but can't remember which REAL brand it is.

What I can say is :

- it is NOT Cuban at all,it's just an Asian generic brand like the others (the "Cuba Percussion" label is just a marketing thing to "bait" the customers) ;

- I believe these side plates have been used by several brands (or the same one with different names) ;

- you don't see any picture of the skins, only of the body of the drums (does the seller want to hide the skins?) - maybe you'll have to change them, which is not a problem ;

- the wood is hevea/rubberwood like most other congas and bongó, a.k.a. pompously renamed "Siam oak" (again to "bait" the customer) - this beeing said, hevea is not a bad wood species at all. They build nice pieces of furniture out of hevea. It's just that it's not so "glamourous" as mahogany or walnut, so the collectors despise it. Hevea trees have to be recycled every 15 or 20 years, like vine. And since most of the factories are now in Thailand, they can easily get cheap timber. Same with the skins : they use water buffalo skins (they live nearby :) ). And if you add the low wages... :) This was social critical paragraph. You just need to remember hevea is not so bad as the purists claim... A friend of mine bought a trio of cheap Chinese congas, which sound terribly good with the right skins. So no worries.

- the crowns of these look cheap. You'll certainly have to change them (in my eyes) but it's not a problem.

- there seems to be some leather or rubber gaskets between the side plates and the shells, which is a good thing to protect the shell wood (I did that on several of my congas too) ;

So, in conclusion, it's not a bad deal at all. Once you buy them, you can check if they have not got out of round. Which can also be fixed.
Sorry for having been long.
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Re: Cuba Percussion Brand Congas

Postby mpags » Mon Nov 22, 2021 1:41 pm

Thanks Chtimulato. Not sure I´m ready to buy yet between bongó and guitar but am moving slowly in that direction, especially since one project is doing more early Santana these days and a previous member who is a guitarist is coming back from the U.S for a few months in the winter.

With your experience you have a more educated and critical eye than I do. The brand thing doesn´t surprise me nor the Siam Oak. My Matadors are made of Siam Oak. I know the collectors and purists look down their noses at this wood but it is a sustainable wood and it sounds fine.

How would you compare these to some of the mid priced ones on the market like LP Aspire or Mienl Headliner. I see many posts warning of avoiding these and there are a bunch of them for sale in FB Marketplace, not a good sign in terms of their quality or their resale value. Especially the Aspires. I have no prob replacing skins and it doesn´t seem that hard to replace the crowns.

Would these sizes be a conga and a quinto at 11 and 12? Or a conga and a tumbadora? From my searching here, it seems like the conga and quinto are a good overall set up if you are only going to use 2 drums. Trying to educate myself in advance of a possible purchase...
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Re: Cuba Percussion Brand Congas

Postby Thomas Altmann » Mon Nov 22, 2021 4:18 pm

Chtimulato wrote:you can check if they have not got out of round. Which can also be fixed.


How that? by disassembling, re-shaping and re-glueing the staves? I have two drums that are - what I would say: hopelessly - oval, one of them being unplayable.

I know that you are occasionally repairing drums; but the method above would be equal to "cannot be fixed" to me.

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Re: Cuba Percussion Brand Congas

Postby Chtimulato » Mon Nov 22, 2021 5:20 pm

How would you compare these to some of the mid priced ones on the market like LP Aspire or Meinl Headliner.


I would trust these more than Aspire or Meinl Headliner. They have at least the "adult" size :). And they could even be cheaper (got to check the prices though). A good quality/price ratio is Matador, for instance. Some professional players play on Matadors and make them sound.

Would these sizes be a conga and a quinto at 11 and 12?

In "modern" terms yes. In traditional Cuban standards, they would be conga (tres dos) and tumbadora. I've be told LP increased the measurements to adapt them to Ray Barretto's big hands. :)

Chtimulato wrote:you can check if they have not got out of round. Which can also be fixed.


How that? by disassembling, re-shaping and re-glueing the staves? I have two drums that are - what I would say: hopelessly - oval, one of them being unplayable.

I know that you are occasionally repairing drums; but the method above would be equal to "cannot be fixed" to me.


Yes, it can depend on the "out-of-roudness". But since the ad states they are new, they shouldn't be in such a bad shape.
Last edited by Chtimulato on Mon Nov 22, 2021 9:08 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Cuba Percussion Brand Congas

Postby jorge » Mon Nov 22, 2021 6:12 pm

Thomas why is your oval drum unplayable? What does it sound like? I think how head shape affects the sound differs and I don't completely understand how. The best sounding drum I ever played was as oval as an egg looking down from the top, Regalao's quinto (Afrocuba de Matanzas). Thick skin, beautiful dry tones and slaps, very short sustain on the tones. It is an aesthetic issue for anyone looking down at the head of the drum, but does not necessarily ruin the sound or affect the appearance from offstage. Do you need to fix it? Maybe or maybe not, "Play it by ear".
That price of $10,500 almost gave me a heart attack until I remembered that $ is the American symbol for currency all around the Americas including Mexico, Cuba, Argentina, Chile, Canada, Dominican Republic, etc..., not just $USD.

Chtimulato, I agree with your explanation of size inflation by LP. Barretto used to use a huge (maybe 13") tumbadora as his conga, which gave an echoey sound I didn't particularly care for on recordings. But I think in addition to his hand size, he was looking for a loud drum for playing clubs night in night out, several gigs a night for years and years. I can imagine he was looking for anything that helped him be heard over the band without hitting too hard, and he wound up starting that trend of bigger and bigger congas.
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Re: Cuba Percussion Brand Congas

Postby Thomas Altmann » Mon Nov 22, 2021 6:45 pm

jorge wrote:Thomas why is your oval drum unplayable? ... It is an aesthetic issue for anyone looking down at the head of the drum, but does not necessarily ruin the sound or affect the appearance from offstage.


I know what you mean, Jorge. The other drum, a custom-made Schalloch maple tumbadora, is like that. It sounds great. But if I wanted to sell it, this would be an issue that diminishes the price immediately. (I'm considering to sell my set of 4 maple Schalloch's made for me in the Black Forest in 1985.)

The drum in question is a 1980's Gon Bops mahogany 9.75" quinto. It is oval to the extent that it can't be tuned properly anymore without damaging the skin. - Because against the top of the body, the crown is still perfectly round, of course. I have taken it totally apart and cracked up the body, because my idea was to install at least one internal steel ring, re-glue it and thus force the body back in round with rings in- and outside. Fact is, after more than 10 years, I haven't done anything with it. I doubt that I would obtain acceptable results, and I dont want to waste my time and eventually spoil the whole thing altogether.

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Re: Cuba Percussion Brand Congas

Postby mpags » Mon Nov 22, 2021 7:20 pm

jorge wrote:
That price of $10,500 almost gave me a heart attack until I remembered that $ is the American symbol for currency all around the Americas including Mexico, Cuba, Argentina, Chile, Canada, Dominican Republic, etc..., not just $USD.


Jajaja! Yes, I should say that it is Mexican pesos when I post something, if only to protect your heart... :lol:
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Re: Cuba Percussion Brand Congas

Postby mpags » Mon Nov 22, 2021 7:23 pm

Chtimulato wrote:
How would you compare these to some of the mid priced ones on the market like LP Aspire or Meinl Headliner.


I would trust these more than Aspire or Meinl Headliner. They have at least the "adult" size :). And they could even be cheaper (got to check the prices though). A good quality/price ratio is MAtador, for instance. Some professional players play on Matadors and make them sound.

Would these sizes be a conga and a quinto at 11 and 12?

In "modern" terms yes. In traditional Cuban standards, they would be conga (tres dos) and tumbadora. I've be told LP increased the measurements to adapt them to Ray Barretto's big hands. :)

Chtimulato wrote:you can check if they have not got out of round. Which can also be fixed.


How that? by disassembling, re-shaping and re-glueing the staves? I have two drums that are - what I would say: hopelessly - oval, one of them being unplayable.

I know that you are occasionally repairing drums; but the method above would be equal to "cannot be fixed" to me.


Yes, it can depend on the "out-of-roudness". But since the ad states they are new, they shouldn't be in such a bas shape.

Gracias Chtimulato! As always, you are a wealth of knowledge and I appreciate you sharing it.
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Re: Cuba Percussion Brand Congas

Postby Chtimulato » Mon Nov 22, 2021 9:01 pm

mpags wrote:Gracias Chtimulato! As always, you are a wealth of knowledge and I appreciate you sharing it.


I'm not the only one here, and some other members are way, way bigger wealths than me... :)

Thomas wrote:It is oval to the extent that it can't be tuned properly anymore without damaging the skin. - Because against the top of the body, the crown is still perfectly round, of course. I have taken it totally apart and cracked up the body, because my idea was to install at least one internal steel ring, re-glue it and thus force the body back in round with rings in- and outside.


A friend of mine used this trick, which I can't guarantee, but it seemed to work several times for him. He took the head and the crown off, and let the top of the drum soak in a bucket of water for a while (I can ask him how long), which softened the wood. Then he forced a crown and/or a spare flesh hoop or 2 (at the right diameter of course) around the top of the drum shell to give it a round shape again. He even cut out and hollowed out some wooden plates (the ones for plant pots for instance) to make a kind of wooden alma which he tightened inside the drum (a few cm below the "mouth" of the drum) and he got the drums round again.

I read another trick somewhere, which worked for me once on an egg-shaped bongó macho : I took the skin off and let the bongó sit for quite a while. Maybe several weeks. Then I remounted the same skin with the same flesh hoop, but revolving it by 1/4 turn (let's say 3 o'clock instead of 12). And guess what, guys : it worked! :)

There are several other techniques : band clamp, pipe clamp, inserting a dowel or a cleat in the drum and forcing it gently and little by little downwards inside, but I freely admit that you don't want to bother with that.
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Re: Cuba Percussion Brand Congas

Postby Thomas Altmann » Mon Nov 22, 2021 9:24 pm

Thanks, Chtimulato! I was thinking about applying water, too, but I would guess that, if you soak only one portion of the wooden body and make it swell with the rest remaining dry, it would make it crack.

I also tried the dowel trick with a solid batá body, but each time I took the dowel away again, the drum happily sprung back into its favorite shape: EGG.

I realize we're going OT - sorry, mpags.

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Re: Cuba Percussion Brand Congas

Postby mpags » Mon Nov 22, 2021 10:15 pm

Thomas Altmann wrote:Thanks, Chtimulato! I was thinking about applying water, too, but I would guess that, if you soak only one portion of the wooden body and make it swell with the rest remaining dry, it would make it crack.

I also tried the dowel trick with a solid batá body, but each time I took the dowel away again, the drum happily sprung back into its favorite shape: EGG.

I realize we're going OT - sorry, mpags.

Thomas

No problem amigos. When you all discuss, I learn. And I love to learn about these things. You are all so generous with your knowledge and experience.
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Re: Cuba Percussion Brand Congas

Postby Chtimulato » Mon Nov 22, 2021 11:16 pm

Thomas Altmann wrote:Thanks, Chtimulato! I was thinking about applying water, too, but I would guess that, if you soak only one portion of the wooden body and make it swell with the rest remaining dry, it would make it crack.


I'll ask my friend how long it had to last. He did it several months ago, and has no problem so far (I've seen the drums).

Thomas Altmann wrote:I also tried the dowel trick with a solid batá body, but each time I took the dowel away again, the drum happily sprung back into its favorite shape: EGG.


I guess it has to last quite a while. But maybe your shells are thick, if they are enterizos.

Thomas Altmann wrote:I realize we're going OT - sorry, mpags.

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