5 Essential Hand Percussion Instruments You Didn’t Know You Needed

Few instruments dress up and fill out an arrangement more, whether live or in the studio, then hand percussion. But there’s life beyond the usual tambourines and shakers—and some of the following overachieving hand percussion instruments might be just what you’ve always needed.

  1. Latin Percussion CP391 10″ CP Tunable Wood TambourineTambourine

The next step up from a tambourine is a tunable one, and the CP391 has—wait for it—tuning pegs, and a key to tune them. Although billed as a beginner’s tambourine, it’s a solid addition for the studio and offers a different sound because the drum aspect is as important as the jingles. If you’re looking for only jingles and no head, then you’ll want something more upscale, like the Gon Bops PTAMW2—but for a versatile sound that won’t break the bank, the CP391 is a keeper.

  1. Meinl KA9WW-BK Wah-Wah Kalimba


Kalimbas are just plain cool in the way they combine percussion and melodic elements, but the Meinl Wah-Wah Kalimba is something different—its sound hole isn’t under the tines, but projects outward. This lets you create wah effects just by moving it up and down, or bouncing the kalimba body off your belly as you play. Place it on a frame drum, and you’ll have a sound more like the high-end Sansula kalimba. Either way, you’ll hear that evocative, dreamy kalimba sound—with a wah, if you want it.

  1. Meinl SH4BK Artist Series Luis Conte Live Shaker In Black

Black Shaker

You may already have a shaker, but it’s not like this one (note that this looks like two shakers, but it’s two shakers attached together). There are three different shaker versions in this line: gray (loudest), black (medium), and red (softest). The gray is excellent for live when you need loud percussion, but the black is ideal in the studio—it has serious presence, yet the sound is smooth. It’s something you’d use to support other instruments, rather than have it stand out on its own, and definitely hits the sweet spot between loud and soft.

  1. Latin Percussion LP597 King Klave

King Klave

Is there such a thing as a heavy metal clave? If there wasn’t before, there is now. These are made of fiberglass, and are nearly indestructible. They’re probably the loudest clave you can find, but interestingly, unlike wood claves whose sound sort of drops off with softer strikes, these ring out with an authoritative (albeit lower volume) sound with softer strikes. The pitch is also a bit higher than wood claves, and the volume level makes them suitable for loud gigs. This clave definitely earns the title of “King Klave.”

  1. Latin Percussion LP225H Handheld Guira Cowbell with Scraper


Okay, we all know the joke about “more cowbell.” But how about a cowbell that’s more than a cowbell? When you’re ready for a new sound (or happen to be a meringue aficionado), the LP225H does double-duty as a handheld cowbell and a guira scraper. Check out the picture—one side looks like a standard cowbell, while the other has the scraper surface. And if you think the dual nature doesn’t matter because you already have a guiro, the guira’s metal construction gives a bright, metallic timbre as opposed to the guiro’s gourd-based wooden tone. More cowbell? Sure thing.

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