Udu drums are traditionally made out of clay and look like a water pot (from which they were created in the first place). The main feature of this drum is two holes – one on the top of the pot and one on the side. By taping or palming these holes you can create different sounds.
Udu drums originated from Nigeria, in the lands of Igbo people, so they are sometimes known as Igbo or Ibo drums. In this article, I’m going to list 5 of the best Udu drums.
My top recommended udu drum is the Meinl Percussion Ibo Drum. This is a well-rounded Ibo drum with great sound and a good price tag.
My second recommended udu drum is the Latin Percussion LP1400-C3 Udu Drum. This is an affordable option from a respectable brand of good overall quality.
The 5 Best Udu Drums (2023)
Let’s compare these in more detail.
1. Meinl Percussion Ibo Drum
If you’re a percussionist, then Meinl is a well-known name for you. Their udu drum is a top-of-the-line instrument, for various reasons. First of all, the whole instrument is made out of fiberglass and not clay. Even though it’s not a traditional way of making it, this gives it a clearer sound and makes the instrument sturdier for travel and use.
It comes with a small hole for a microphone to record it more easily as well as with a padded bottom. This gives you an added surface for playing as well as keeps the balance of the drum when on display or during a performance. It’s also quite beautifully designed, making it a real eye-catcher when on stage.
The price is in the mid-range, but for this type of high-quality made instrument, you won’t expect to pay anything less.
2. Latin Percussion LP1400-C3 Udu Drum
If you’re looking to buy a budget option, LP1400-C3 could be one of your picks. This is an affordable, nice quality udu drum made by Latin Percussion. It’s completely made out of clay, keeping the original African sound when playing. It has a nice tear shape, so it’s comfortable in your hands when playing and gives you a lot of surfaces to play on. This gives you a nice sound range as well.
It’s 15” high and 10” wide and comes with a nice basket-like buffer at the bottom of the jug. This is a great instrument for beginners or people who would like to try out a new percussion first.
3. Latin Percussion LP1400-HG LP Udu Drum Hadgini
This drum was developed as a result of the collaboration of clay artist Frank Giorgini and percussionist James Haddad. These two set out to create an udu drum for the new age, with added features and great looks. The end result is a two-headed udu drum, with two separate jugs connected in a V shape through a clay tube.
The whole piece is made out of clay, with added microphone holes on the side of each head. One head is round in shape, while the other one is triangular. The rounded head gives you a bit more of the bass side notes, while the triangular one provides higher notes.
They also have perforated skins, so you can use the rubbing technique as well. Great drum for experimentation and seasoned percussionists.
4. Schlagwerk U62 Basic Udu
Schlagwerk has a whole series of udu drums in their production, but we decided to focus on their U62 Basic Udu. Apart from this, you can buy different types of udus from them – bass, high-tonal, low-tonal, tunable, etc.
U62 is a high-end, high-quality product that’s made to be used by professionals that are ready to invest some serious money to get a top-of-the-line instrument in their collection. It’s hand-made out of clay and comes with a stand ring beside it.
They are 14” high and 10.5” wide. Even though this is not the largest drum on the market, it will still provide you with pristine, high-quality sound and perfect comfort while playing it.
5. Latin Percussion LP1400-UT Udu Drum
If you’re looking for more of a bass sound with your udu, LP1400-UT is a perfect fit for you. The whole instrument is made out of clay, traditionally. The design is a bit odd compared to other udu drums. This model looks like an udu drum laid to its side. But this design gives it all that bass when playing it, with more space for low tones to vibrate and be heard better.
Price is in the mid-range, but this drum is intended to be used by professionals who already had some experience with standard udu drums and know what they need and how they can get it.
What are udu drums?
Udu drums are clay drums originating from Nigeria. Igbo women in Nigeria made these drums look like water jugs (and originally used just water jugs for this purpose) and played them in ceremonies and similar situations.
How to play udu drums?
Udu drums can be played by combining several different techniques. First of all, you can play them using your fingers to beat on the drum, creating that almost bongo sound when played.
You can also palm them to get deeper, richer sounds. By controlling the two holes that each udu drum has, you can fine-tune the sound you want to get out of the instrument. This gives you a really versatile sound range in which you can work out just the tune you need for your song.
Where are udu drums used?
Even though they are not the most popular percussion instruments in the world, udu drums are slowly making the name for themselves. Pioneered by different percussionists and musicians over the years, udu drums can be heard in all kinds of different types of music.
Probably the most notable player of udu drums in the world is Jamey Haddad. This percussionist is responsible for many native instruments being brought back to life and used in modern jazz and world music and is a great musician as well.
Today, apart from world and jazz music, you can hear udu drums being recorded for various indie or electro music types of beat, as the instrument gives away a nice, soothing sound perfect for calming music.
Whether you knew what udu drums are or not, this is one great instrument that you should look into. There are different types of udu drums on the market and we believe that these 5 will cover all your needs. Native instruments can give you a fresh, new sound and open your eyes and ears to some new experiences and experiments.
Whether you’re an amateur looking to get into percussion or a professional looking to expand his collection of instruments with a new addition, there’s definitely going to be something for you on this list.
My top udu drum pick is the Meinl Percussion Ibo Drum, a well-rounded Ibo drum at a good price with great sound quality.
My budget udu drum pick is the Latin Percussion LP1400-C3 Udu Drum, an affordable option for those on a tight budget that are after something decent.