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Tabla Buying Guide


A good seller of Tabla is the one who meets the demands of the customer and is able to provide a good Tabla in terms of sound, design as well as appearance to his costumer.

The difference between a good and bad Tabla lies in its quality of sound. While buying Tabla the major factor which a Tabla player looks out for is the quality of sound. At this stage he is not really interested in the technicalities or cosmetic appearance of the instrument.

The first thing to keep in mind is the quality of skin used for the instrument, because this has a direct impact on quality of sound.

In Tabla, 3 different types of skins that are used. There is thin skin, medium thickness skin, and thick skin. Every type of skin has its own plus and minus points.

Thin skin – Kolkatta style – sounds pleasant but it lacks durability and is a risky option for performances. The medium skin – Bombay style has very good tone, resonance and lasts for 1-3 years approximately. Professional players do go for this medium skin Tabla too. Their durability also depends on weather conditions.

About the thick skin, it is long lasting and extremely durable but again has been seen to lack the resonance. And players are required to hit harder to get a sound. This effort tends to tire the player faster. This Tabla is good for teachers who are basically into giving Tabla lessons to students and not for actual live performances.

The sound also depends on the type of wood used and shisam or khair wood can give you the best tone.

Experience of the Tabla maker also has a big role to play while buying Tabla. More experienced the maker, better the tablas. One should also check heaviness of the wood. Heavier the wood, better depth you can get in the tone.

And the last but not least that the ideal size should be taken for a particular pitch such as 5 1/2 inches diameter is perfect for C sharp or D pitched tablas, 5 1/4 inches is ideal for D or D sharp tablas, 5 3/4 inches is ideal for A or A sharp pitched tablas and so on.

While buying Tabla due attention should be give to playing skins. Skins should be flexible in terms of tuning and player should be able to tune then with a range of up to two to three notes.

the process of making a good quality Tabla centers around two factors; the skin and application of a black paste known as siyahi on the centre of the playing surface. The siyahi is responsible for the distinct sound of the Tabla and is the main difference between a bad and good Tabla.