Skip to content


Your cart is empty

The Differences Between Tonbak And Doumbek

The Differences Between Tonbak And Doumbek

Tonbak and Doumbek are the two popular and widely used musical instruments that have enriched musical industry immeasurably. However, their shapes, playing techniques etc are entirely different from each other. Here in this article we will try to figure it out their differences as far as possible.

Doumbek Structure

Though both these musical instruments play significant roles in changing the musical culture of Middle East Asia, their structures are distinctly different. Doumbek is thin in shape whereas Tonbak is slightly bulky in size. Besides this, the body of Tonbak is usually made from wood but in case of Doumbek, either metal or clay is used for this purpose. Those, who are passionate about the traditional appeal, usually opt for a doumbek that is made of clay, whereas metal-bodied Doumbeks are quite common among percussionists in Turkey.

Use of Skin

A wide variety of skins are used in Tonbak such as cow skin, horse skin, sheepskin, goatskin etc but among them goatskin is widely used and is much popular among a number of musicians. But in case of Doumbek fish skin is unanimously used and preferred by musicians. Besides this, prefabricated head is often used in doumbek but this thing is quite uncommon and somewhat rare in Tonbak. Tying the skin of a musical instrument tightly can produce sharp sounds, which is not liked by most of the tonbak players and this is the reason why skin of tonbak always appears to be loose. But the skin of Doumbek should be tight at any cost otherwise; you would not be able to practice finger-snapping techniques or other popular doumbek playing techniques.

Doumbek Playing Techniques

Though both fingers and wrists play pivotal roles in playing these musical instruments, in Doumbek use of fingers is more important than wrist. As opposed to rapid rolls and finger-snapping techniques, which have become synonymous with Doumbek, floppy wrist action is quite common with Tonbak. As the name suggests wrist plays a dominating role in floppy wrist action. These are some of the major differences between Tonbak and doumbek that one should aware of if he aspires to attain mastery over these magnificent musical instruments.