The 6 Best Bodhrans (2024) – Irish Frame Drums
Bodhran drums are a great way to explore Irish folk music. The drum is a simple-looking instrument, but finding a good one takes some research!
My top pick is the Meinl Percussion 14” Extra Deep Shell Bodhran. It produces a nice, deep sound, which is quite rich in nature.
My top affordable bodhran would be the Waltons Bodhran 18”. A beginner’s bodhran, it has a traditional feel and fits a lot of budgets.
- The 6 Best Bodhrans (2024)
- 1. Meinl Percussion 14” Extra Deep Shell Bodhran
- 2. Waltons Bodhrán 18"
- 3. Mcneela Music - The Ultimate Rosewood 16” Deep-Rim Performance Bodhrán Set
- 4. Remo Bodhran 16” x 4.5”
- 5. Roosebeck BTN4MT Inside Tunable Bodhran
- 6. Remo HD-8510-00 Fiberskyn Frame Drum
- Types of Bodhrans
- Should You Get a Tunable Bodhran?
- What is a bodhran stick called?
- Is the bodhran Irish?
- Is the bodhran easy to play?
- The Different Types of Frame Drums and Bodhrans
The 6 Best Bodhrans (2024)
Let’s look at them in more detail:
Meinl’s Extra Deep Irish Bodhran is a 14” x 6” frame drum, made of hardwood shell. Because of its height, this bodhran gives a fuller tone which sounds great even when played by hand. There is no crossbar either, making it much easier to use your hands instead of a tipper.
- Extra deep hardwood shell
- No crossbar to enable hand-playing
- Is tunable
- Not much!
The drum head is made of goat skin to give it a more traditional sound. It is also equipped with a dampening ring around the rim to minimize overtones. Another great thing about Meinl’s bodhran is that it’s tunable. You will need an Allen wrench, though.
Although more expensive than others on the list, this Meinl 14” bodhran is for sure a high-quality one.
2. Waltons Bodhrán 18"
Waltons Bodhran is an 18” drum and is a good choice for someone new to the instrument. With this drum, what you see is what you get.
Its shell is made from high-quality hardwood and the head is stretched goat skin. The sound is very traditional, producing a nice tone.
- Great for a budget
- Decent sound for its price
- Good, sturdy built
- Cannot be tuned
The bodhran also comes with a hardwood beater. Using its crossbar, you can comfortably play it while standing up or sitting down. Unfortunately, this one is a non-tunable bodhran.
Given the price range and the level of sound of this Waltons 18” Bodhran, it is worth a buy if you are a beginner.
3. Mcneela Music - The Ultimate Rosewood 16” Deep-Rim Performance Bodhrán Set
The Ultimate Rosewood 16” Deep-Rim Performance Bodhrán Set by Mcneela Music is a pro-grade choice for those who are serious about the Bodhran. It comes with the 16″ Tuneable Rosewood Bodhran, a gig bag, and full access to Rónán Ó Snodaigh’s Bodhrán Masters Course.
- Professional set with gig bag and master course access
- Extra deep rim for more power and sustain
- Highly responsive tone with great bass
- Durable and well-crafted
This professional, tunable Bodhran is made from top-quality skin (sustainably sourced goat skin) and features an extra deep rim that delivers much more power and sustain than your conventional Bodhran. In addition, it also produces very lush bass tones.
|Sustainably Sourced Goat Skin
All in all, if you want a professional Bodhran with superb craftsmanship, exceptional durability, and the ability to produce power with long sustain, the Ultimate Rosewood 16” Performance Bodhran is the top choice!
4. Remo Bodhran 16” x 4.5”
This Remo Irish Bodhran is a 16” x 14” frame drum that uses a Bahia Bass drumhead for a soft attack and deep tone. Remo is a giant in the percussion world, so you know you’re getting a good product. The synthetic drumhead isn’t the same as a goatskin drumhead but still produces a nice sound.
- Deep, earthy sound
- Produces nice, pitch-bending notes
- 8-point tuning system
- The drum head sounds a bit different from the bodhrans with classic heads on this list
Remo’s Bodhran has no crossbar on it. The build is fairly durable. Along with that, the drum has an 8-point tuning system that works with a key. Although, Remo doesn’t provide a beater with this.
|Synthetic Bahia Bass
Remo is well-known around the world for its percussion instruments. This fairly affordable bodhran can be considered worth buying.
5. Roosebeck BTN4MT Inside Tunable Bodhran
Rooseback’s BTN4MT Bodhran is great for both Irish and Celtic music. The drum is a lightweight 14” x 3.5”, 2.85 pounds. The drumhead is made of goat skin and the shell is made of very durable mulberry wood.
- Lightweight and sturdy
- Nice ease of play
- Comes with a tipper and tuning key
- Not much!
This is a very comfortable bodhran for anyone to play. It comes without a t-bar and has tuning hardware on the inside. The hand support makes it a very handy drum.
If you’re looking for a decent-sounding bodhran for a variety of music, then this Rooseback drum might be worth looking into.
Remo’s HD-8510-00 Fiberskyn is a more general frame drum instead of a bodhran. However, the function remains the same. So, if you’re open to the idea, explore it. The 10” Fiberskyn Frame Drum can be played with a hand or a mallet. It is equipped with a pre-tuned Fiberskyn drumhead and Remo’s Acousticon shell, which is a sonic, wooden shell.
- Good for practice
- Nice low-pitch projection
- Lightweight makes it mobile
- Frame drum design is slightly different from a classic bodhran.
Mostly used for recreational and tame purposes, this frame drum has a nice, warm tone. If you’re just starting out or need a frame drum to practice, this is a good way to go. Another thing that helps is its lightweight and decent build.
Buying a bodhran frame drum is a nice way to expand your percussive skills and venture into Irish folk music. So, it is always a plus if you know more about the instrument itself.
Types of Bodhrans
Bodhrans available out there can be divided into two segments. Traditional and modern. Traditional bodhrans are made of green wood with goatskin or sometimes sheepskin used as drumheads.
With the modern bodhran, a synthetic drumhead is more prevalent. An advantage of modern bodhrans is their tunability. So, you can change the pitch of your drum.
Should You Get a Tunable Bodhran?
Traditional bodhrans are particularly vulnerable to moisture, including humidity. They tend to get loose if water is added and tight if the environment is too dry. This can be a challenge to overcome.
Tunable bodhrans are helpful in this case as you can set the tension of the drum regardless of external scenarios.
How do You Pronounce Bodhran?
Bodhran is an Irish instrument that is pronounced trickier than spelled. Common mispronunciations include “bod-ran,” “bod-rawn,” or “boo-ran.” However, the proper way to say it out loud is “bow-rawn.” So, get practicing if you’re going to play the instrument.
What is a bodhran stick called?
The bodhran is played by hand or using a special stick called a tipper or a beater.
Is the bodhran Irish?
Bodhran has its origins in Ireland. In fact, the word bodhran means drum in Irish. It was used as the native drum for the ancient Celtics. Despite being an age-old drum but only gained recognition as a musical instrument in the 1960s.
Is the bodhran easy to play?
If you compare it to other percussion instruments, the bodhran is an easier instrument to learn and play. Although, it does involve intricate hand movements and patterns.
There are three ways to play the bodhran. Namely, Kerry Style, where both ends of the tipper are used, and West Limerick, where only one end of the tipper is used, and by hand.
The Different Types of Frame Drums and Bodhrans
In Nordic countries and Russia, there is an instrument called the Sami drum. In England, you can find a traditional folk instrument known as the Riddle drum. In the Middle East, there are various types of frame drums as well. Some of the most common are Riq, Tar, Bendir, etc. Lag-na is a traditional Tibetian frame drum, while Yike is played in Cambodia. Pretty much every country has its own kind of frame drum.
One of the most interesting types of a frame drum is Bodhran. This instrument is a traditional Irish frame drum. It dates from ancient times and definitely had a strong influence on Celtic music. So, it’s no wonder that its popularity goes beyond Irish borders these days when Celtic music has expanded across the Globe.
The most common thing for all frame drums is their simple construction and use of natural materials. The drumhead is usually made of rawhide materials, predominately leather. On the other side, the shell is made of wood. Bent wood is usually scarf jointed together. Of course, in these days of mass production, materials like plastics and synthetic leather are used as well.
Bodhrans usually feature a goatskin drumhead, though modern ones could be made of synthetic leather. Also, many of them feature mechanical tuning systems these days, so you can tighten or loosen the leather, in order to get the best sound quality, no matter the weather and atmospheric conditions.
If you think Frame Drums and Bodhrans are basic instruments then you need to watch this video. The drum patterns may be easy to learn, but the mastery of them is extremely impressive!
A lot of things, from budget to tunability to the skin factor are important when buying a bodhran. Since it’s a niche instrument, it’s better to focus on quality. I’ve broken down my top six bodhrans for you. Take into account your needs and buy what’s best for you.
My top pick is the Meinl Percussion 14” Extra Deep Shell Bodhran, which delivers a nice, deep sound, which is quite rich in nature.
My budget pick is the Waltons Bodhran 18”, a beginner’s bodhran that has a traditional feel and fits a lot of budgets.