INDIAN MUSIC FORUM ARCHIVES: Tabla Forum: how to inspect a set of tabla


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how to inspect a set of tabla May 02, 2002 03:05 a.m.

i am an italian newbie in the tabla world, i never played tabla before.
i have to buy a set of tabla that some guys buyed in india few days ago.
i don't know how to test if the tablas ar good (i asked for a professional set of tabla) and how much i can pay them accordingly to the quality of the set.
Is copper Bayan good as the brass one?
how much heavy a good copper Bayan must be?
Which are the right checks out to make an ispection of the set?
Are there any easy to do common sounds to test both drums?
i hope someone could help me.
i apologize for my bad english.
thank you.
Dave (bolcut)
Re:how to inspect a set of tabla May 06, 2002 02:33 p.m.

Baya should be 3 kilos, copper is great, but try to find a reputable teacher first that can't inspect them for you. If you have any aspirations of actually playing tabla (rather than playing WITH it) you'll need a teacher anyway. If you try to learn by yourself first, you'll just make it that much harder for your teacher to fix your hands.
Dave (bolcut)
Re:how to inspect a set of tabla May 06, 2002 02:36 p.m.

typo--Find a teacher that CAN inspect them for you (not can't)
Re:how to inspect a set of tabla May 08, 2002 08:55 a.m.


If you are going to spend lots of money on a new tabla, I would advise perhaps to take a trip to London(flights can be very sheap if u look) and perhaps stop at Jass Music Shop at South hall to buy a good pair of tabla. I stoped there the other they and they have some good stuff. The dahina is the most important at this stage(which would cost you �40 to �60 and I, or some other people could help you with that!plus you could get a free lesson!! All you need is a week end over here and someone to volunteer to help you.

Re:how to inspect a set of tabla May 08, 2002 08:20 a.m.

I have no way to find a tabla teacher in the place where i live (Palermo-Sicily), and i "need" to learn how to play them.
I have to try to learn by some good video tutorial at this stage.
I play Piano yet, but i don't know how it can be usefull for Tablas.
So i must inspect the Tablas by myself trying to understand if they are a good or not.
If you have any good advice i will be happy.
thank you
Dave (bolcut)
Re:how to inspect a set of tabla May 08, 2002 11:22 a.m.

Truth be told, if you're just starting, you probably don't need the best set--since it'll be a while before you can get good sounds. It really is hard, because you need to know how to play a bit to get the sounds, but the black circle (gub) should be smooth, with no major cracks, and open sound should be free of any buzz. Hopefully, ring underneath drum will be mostly circular and centered (or you'll be tuning a lot). Also, if you do have money, another source for expensive but good tablas is usually the Ali Akbar School of Music. Does somebody else know a good video? Otherwise, your in Italy, try to get to India to see Nayan Ghosh or Anindo Chaterjee for some pointers.
Re:how to inspect a set of tabla May 09, 2002 05:00 a.m.

A nice book is by Sharda Sahai clled play tabla. There is also a video to accompany it. If you go to you can see some information. I think the address is correct. Or take a trip to Varanasi, it can be very reasnable. If you want any info send me an e-mail on
Re:how to inspect a set of tabla May 09, 2002 08:30 a.m.

Thank You all (i viited the URLs)
I have no choice to travel in any parts of the world at this time to buy another set, i am too busy.
My only choice is to inspect this set of tabla here with some knowledge, to test if they are good enough. If they looks too bad i won't buy them.
I am searching out for the features a good set of Tablas must need.And apply this knowledge to my inspection.
Best regards
Re:how to inspect a set of tabla May 09, 2002 04:58 p.m.


I am a novice learner just like you. Yes,
I am told that learning from a teacher is
preferable. I have found one also. Teachers
recommendation was to buy a average tabla
(as per his opinion it's good enough for first 3-4 years). If it's costing you US$200+
equvilanent, you are paying too much.

Basic checks:

o Make sure it's not damaged (Especially the
leather portion). Purcussion instruments
rely on leather to generate rythems. It
should be tightly wrapped on the
instrument. Any slacks will prove no good.
o Make sure it's leather strings around
Dayan, Bayan is in place and are tight
and in sound condition.
o Make sure Bayan is not bent (possible
because it's metalic) in anyway.
o Ensure Black portion on top is not damaged
o Wonden blocks for tightening strings
(usually cylindrical) are in place (For
Dayan only).
o Do not forget to see resonant sounds can be
generated from both units before buying.
Any breakages would be obvious if sound is
non-resonant consistently.
o Optionally:
o Get the Bases for both units (made of
o Hammer for adjustments
o Carrying case if possible will be good.

I bought a basic tabla (bought with this
inspection and ok'ed later by teacher)
for US $175 includes all these things I
mentioned. You could get it for less also.

I would say equivalent of $150-$300 would be
good price.

Good luck and happy learning !

Re:how to inspect a set of tabla May 09, 2002 05:03 p.m.

This link may help you as well.

Re:how to inspect a set of tabla May 09, 2002 08:40 p.m.

Also check the tightness of the Gajara (braid) that is around the base of the head of the tabla, the tightness of that braid reflects some on the quility, the tighter the better in most of the tabla i see in a local shop.
Re:how to inspect a set of tabla May 09, 2002 08:58 p.m.

And also, Its not always true about the hands having to be corrected by your teacher if you try to learn by yourself. In the first few months I had to learn on my own from books and videos, and Ill have to say I came to my teacher and he was impressed with my bols, while their was a few kinks in my phrasing to iron out they were the best he'd seen in a beggining student, it really helped the beggining process speed up, and now he proclaims me his fastest learning student. I think if you use the videos and books correctly, you can do OK at tabla, remember to use your skills of intuition, and realize HOW the drum and the certain bol works. and when learning, PLEASE concentrate on the importance of Kaida, theka, tukra, muhkra, rela, learn TinTal first, (its the best for beginners I believe).Before I started taking lessons I didnt fully realize the great improtance of these.
Re:how to inspect a set of tabla May 10, 2002 06:57 a.m.

Thank you "ab123" and "theMonk",
I appreciated very much your usefull advices.
My learning starts from here!
The tablas i wish to buy are not arrived yet.
I think that for the time they'll came up, with all of you all tips, i'll make a better choice.
Best Regards
Re:how to inspect a set of tabla Jun 11, 2002 10:20 a.m.

check out the italian website

Tabla player from Naples, Italy

Re:how to inspect a set of tabla Jun 24, 2002 06:13 a.m.

Thank You Agodemar,
the Narada site is quite poor of informations about the tablas they sell.(no items, no prices).
Re:how to inspect a set of tabla Jun 24, 2002 12:12 p.m.

Chech out Buckingham music, they sell good quality tablas.
Re:how to inspect a set of tabla Jun 29, 2002 12:35 a.m.

hello davide, my name is Prasad, and i have been playing tabla for 14 years now and have been teaching for about 2 years now, iam a student of Zakir Hussain, and it seems that your having some trouble, with the tabla choosing. # 1 let me say that the bhyan should be heavy , the heavier the better, and yes, a copper bhyan is better and the other kind because it gives out better sound, and it last longer, and it csn handle heat and other types of weather, the bhyan should be a deep sound and you shoudl hear a type of echo in it, youll know when you hear it, it should be sharp. the dhiyan, which is the little one on the right side, should also be heavy, check it out, see that it looks new not damaged looking or old looking , the strings should be white, and the top of it, the black part should look shiny and look clean all around. the best dhiya you should get should be made of rose wood, or as in india they call it (sheasham wood) thats the best, again just like the copper it handles better heat and other tyoes of weather, it should give you a nice should and loud also. even thought your a beginner you should get a professional tabla, not a beginner one because the beginner ones are not made well and are poorly made, and they sound a little dull. Please send me any more emails if you have any questions, take care and have fun with tabla!

Prasad Eswara!

Re:how to inspect a set of tabla Jul 01, 2002 05:32 a.m.

thank you Prasad Eswara.
at this time i ve not buyed tablas... it seems that my friends couldn't bring me the set of tabla they promise!
I think i'll search on Buckingham site, altought it seems their best quality AA grade tablas doesn't have a copper bayan but a brass one!
any other suggestion?
Re:how to inspect a set of tabla Jul 01, 2002 11:04 a.m.

Ciao Davide,
here is my experience with learning Tabla...

My name is Agostino. I'm an Aerospace Engineer. I work as a research scientist at the University of Naples (Italy), where I live.
I'm also a Tabla & percussions player. I play in a fusion in Naples. Often we exhibit in Salerno and the rest of Campania (Southern region of Italy) too.

In 1995 I began practicing yoga and met people who introduced me in Indian devotional music. Unusually, for a westerner like me, I was instructed on how to play the North Indian Pakhawaj, an ancient drum, often used in Druphad form of music... like Ravi Shankar once said in one of his recordings "... this drum is very sonorous; his sound is very deep, very majestic..." It is really the progenitor of Tabla, according to many authors (see the monumental book by Robert S. Gottlieb).
I learned the bols, thekas, Indian rhythmic concepts, phrases, tihais ecc. just like a student of tabla does...
I became able to accompany bhajans (devotional songs) and kirtans (or Namasankirtana, devotional chants in which the audience is involved in a call-and-responce fashion), and my skill and experience have grown more and more over the years.
When I began listening to Indian Classical Music, in 1997 I wanted to try to express my skills with Tablas.
I started with instructional videos by Ashwin Batish ( - very basic but instructive) and then purchased the great video by Alla Rakha edited by Jeff Feldman ( ).
Regarding the written material, the book by David Courtney "Fundamentals of Tabla" ( ), and I dont think this is only my opinion, is the best tool for understanding the tabla world as a beginner.

Still, I have to say that the first important step in my process of learning and litterally imbibing tabla teachings occurred when I first met a Tabla player & teacher. With him I had to understand the nature of the Indian way of transmitting knowledge. I wasn't having a relationship with a western teacher, but... with an Indian Tabla teacher (... or guru), with his pedagogical background, related to the guru-shishya-parampara (i.e. master-devotee-chain) system. Though I already knew many thekas & compositions, the ones that I received from him, still now that I dont take lessons from him anymore, are of special importance for my playing style... and for my way of "thinking" Tabla....

Regarding your concern in how to inspect tablas...
I understand that you're not going to travel to India.... so you have to order your Tablas from Italy...
I have to say that, of course all kinds of advice appeared in this thread are of great help, but...
unless you dont have a good friend who knows Tabla very well and comes with you at the store, you have to rely on your good fortune anyway...
In Italy we have Narada store who imports professional quality Tablas and other Indian instruments at reasonable prices... I purchased a very good Dayan from them... but you have to CALL them (ask for Carlos), dont stop at their website... I guess they also have a store in Sicily...
In Germany, you can try India Instruments ( ) by Jens Eckert... quality is very high... but also prices...
I purchased high quality Tabla & Pakhawaj heads... Jens is also a very nice guy
Finally, I've been told that Jas Musical in England also have good tablas...

I send you my best wishes for your tabla learning...

If you have questions, dont hesitate to contact me by email:


Re:how to inspect a set of tabla Jul 01, 2002 11:20 a.m.

I read your reply to Davide and I wonder if you know the current maker of Mr Hussain's tablas. I recently had a chance to see Zakir Hussain at the Montreal Jazz Festival with Tabla Beat Science and saw (from some distance, sadly) that he was playing drums with a little yellow label on the side that read something like "Sadana" or "Gadana" (unfortunately many letters were obscured). Do you have any ideas?
Re:how to inspect a set of tabla Jul 03, 2002 03:39 a.m.

Thank you again Agodemar,
i appreciated very much your short intruduction to tabla learning. I will be happy to ask you for more informations if i need (sure i'll need!!!).
Regarding Tabla's suppliers:
I contacted Carlos at Narada, via email, he said they have two type of tablas, ones from calcutta and ones from bombay.the prices are around �310.
The German site you suggested sells high quality tablas for �339.
Ali Akbar School of Music sells AAA grade tablas for $495.
While the most accreditated Buckingham Music sells top tablas for $499.
I don't know at this time where and what to buy...
the American sites seems expensive from European ones, but they seems a bit more professional.
What is the best choice?
Best Wishes
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