Hands-On Review: Schalloch Hand Percussion

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Well-crafted percussion keeps hands happy

by D.R. Konrad

Word to the wise-the next time you're considering a hand-percussion purchase, think Schalloch. With a line-up that includes choice conga, djembe, and bongo products, all percussion players need to stop and take a look. That first look says one thing immediately: these are top-notch instruments. The first listen? Ditto. Their voice is rich, traditional, and versatile, inspiring creativity and playing pleasure.

Schalloch Tumba with Stand

Potent percussion for everyone

Drummers looking to add a few hand perussion pieces to their existing set will find Schalloch a pleasant discovery. The legions of hand-jamming, drum-circle disciples out there will definitely find plenty to groove on. And anyone who is just learning their way in the galaxy of hand percussion would do well to start out on planet Schalloch.

What makes Schalloch so attractive is the price-to-performance ratio. No one can match the killer quality of these drums at this cost level. If you're not Mongo Santa Maria or Giovanni Hidalgo (and who is?), the high-dollar instruments are probably overkill anyway. Schalloch's drums offer superior performance without the sticker shock.

Djam on into the conga line

Schalloch quintos, congas, and tumbas are absolute classics in look and sound. With deep, percussive bass, cutting highs, and overall warmth they exemplify why conga-style drums have been a favorite in so many styles of music for such a long time.

Djembes have increased in popularity due to the unique variety of sounds they can produce. The djembe has its origin in West Africa and is today one of the most widely used of all African drums. Schalloch's line includes a well-thought-out assortment of great-sounding djembes with increased warmth.

Schalloch Wood Bongo Set

Nothing but square corners

Often, manufacturers decrease the quality of their materials or construction processes to achieve a lower price. Not Schalloch. Each of these drums is hand assembled using a very time-consuming and intensive process ensuring each drum possesses the correct consistency, the most desirable tonal characteristics, and visual attractiveness.

After harvesting, the wood is seasoned up to six years. This seasoning stabilizes the moisture content of the wood to prevent cracking in the shell after final assembly. This perfectly seasoned wood is the foundation of drum shell production. It is cut into solid blanks and later machined into staves using a special rotary planer.

Skilled workers assemble the staves by hand into a shell blank and then boil it in a water bath before it is pressed into shape by a hydraulic press. Then it is dried in a humidity-controlled environment to extract the moisture accumulated during boiling. After drying, the staves are permanently joined and machined with a precise bearing edge. The shell is then sanded on a lathe, abraded, and finished in preparation for the mounting of the hardware and heads.

Schalloch crafts their drums with responsibility to the environment as well, in observation of the regulations set forth in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). The wood used in Schalloch percussion instruments, Hevea brasiliensis, or the rubber tree, is grown on traditional rubber tree plantations, meets all ecological requirements. As new trees are planted and older ones that have ceased to provide latex are harvested. In this way, plenty of raw material is available and the ecosystem is preserved.

Schalloch Djembe Drum

Designed for great sound

When designing the head-mounting system for their drums, Schalloch aimed for durability, stability, and resonance. They hit the mark. Their sound is toneful, accurate, and delivers great performance in practice.

In an effort to preserve the natural tonality of the stretched skin head and the wood shell, the greatest care is used when mounting the head and hardware onto the shell, isolating as many parts as possible. This care allows the head and shell to vibrate freely and produces an increased dynamic range. With powerful lows and brilliant highs, drumming techniques gain new definition and response. It's everything one hopes for; in a drum.

All the hardware is the highest quality, attractively polished and finished. Combined with their gloss finishes, these drums are handsome as well as strong.

Slip me some skin

Only the finest hand-selected buffalo and goat skin heads are utilized on Schalloch drums. The smooth white surface and natural feel of the buffalo skin is extremely comfortable on the congas and bongos.

Of course, the goat head is the preferred and more traditional head used for a djembe. The goat head is thinner than the buffalo head, has a comfortable feel, and produces loud slapping tones as well as smooth, fat bass tones.

Run, don't walk

These drums are everything that's great about hand percussion. The sound is smooth and responsive; round, deep tone; and a polished, refined finish. With robust sound and well-crafted design, there's no way you can miss.

Features & Specs:

  • Hand-crafted construction
  • Innovative components
  • Comfortable bearing edge
  • Real skin heads
  • Attractive hardware and finishes
  • Ecologically sound product
Quinto: 10"
Conga: 11"
Tumba: 12"
Bongos: 6-1/2" & 7-1/2"
Djembe: 12"

Tags: Percussion Hand Drums

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