Qasim Sahib did at one time make some of the best tablas coming out of Delhi. I have been to his house many times - but no more. Some time ago he opened a little shop - the size of a phone booth - on the little street behind Jama Masjid. The stuff in the shop was the worst kind of tourist rubbish I've ever seen. I was astounded! Unfortunately - it's typical of Indian manufacturers - that as soon as they get a good reputation - they want to dine on it. At that time - you could still go to his house and pick through the mediocre stuff and get world-class tablas. Then last winter Zakkir-ji played a concert using a set of Qasim's tablas. That was the beginning of the end for quality tablas from Qasim. His prices went through the ceiling and the quality dissapeared faster than a finger in a bowl of pirranahs. Looking for great tablas? Try tablas from Gopal Das. If you're not in Delhi - you can get his first-class tablas through Inni Singh at Delhi Musical Stores.
Prabhu, Qasim is still undoubtedly best in this art form. I've recently made a very fine set with him and brought back here in US, man, does it sound nice. You bet, Gopal Dass tabla purri will not last more than 2 months, ask any tabla player about this. But, Qasim's stays more than a year. Kdas
I agree that Niyazi's can be great, providing you go to his house and pick them out yourself. Tablas that he is peddling to local dealers, are just not up to snuff. There's a fellow at Simla House that gets great high-end Bombay tablas that are as good as you can get. I don't recall the name of the maker, but Simla House can point you to him. Ray Spiegel who runs it doesn't do instrument sales full time anymore - but he's a a respected tabla player and knows quality tablas as well as anyone.