Ok, I don't know anything at all about the tabla, so please forgive my complete ignorance. I've only known about them for a little while because a band that I listen to uses them occasionally. Anyway... you can bend the pitch on a tabla, am I right? How is this done? Maybe somebody can give me some basics about the drum. What I've heard of the tabla is amazing, and I'm thinking about eventually buying one. I love percussion, but right now all I play is the djembe, and I'm getting a bit bored with it.
What the word tabla is in reference to is acually only one drum, but Its most commonly used to refer to both of the drums included in a tabla set. The left one is made of metal and its the low one that you can change pitch. You change it by adding pressure or sliding your wrist on the drum head after you strike it with the tips of your fingers. The littler right hand drum is wood, its the one that rings and has a high pitch. You play it with the fingers of your right hand.
Scott, if you are considering to buy a tabla set, please have in mind it is not like playing a djembe. With one or two djembe lessons you are capable to play a solid rhythm and it sounds good. Nothing of this all with learning tabla. It takes years to strengthen your hands and having a proper sound. To make improvement you have to practice one or more hours a day. It is the most difficult instrument I tried to learn. I'm not trying to frighten you but it is good to know before you start. Good luck with your studies and enjoy it!!!
I'm not a tabla player, but a little advice from a learning experiece of mine. First, continue to talk to many players to see if you really want to jump into this. It is great fun to play, but it will take some time to practice,learn and improve.
Then if it still sounds good, you might get some learning materials. A real teacher is best, but if none are available, there is a fairly good beginning video for tabla you can buy at http://www.buckinghammusic.com/indianmusictutorials/pages/tablatut.html. Goes for about $50. There are others, but I have bought from Ashwin Batish who does these, and he's good.
If you decide to go for it, I recommend you buy a good but moderate quality (and cost) tabla set. That way if you change your mind later, you haven't put out that much cash, but you still have a good instrument to sell. I would buy locally if possible to have a point-of-service contact as they occasionally need professional maintenance, and this avoids international shipping problems and no service contact. Save you a bundle over time.
After a few years, then buy the best you can get. Makes sense then because you're really into it! Good luck in this.
Thank you all for your advice. Naturally I wouldn't jump into buying something that cost so much money without first trying to do some research on it and seeing if it's for me. I've already learned a lot just from the 3 responses I read. Thanks again.