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Tambourines

Whether you're foolish enough to want to give your kids an even noisier way to spend their play time or you're a budding percussionist, our selection of tambourines is certain to include something to meet your needs. We've looked at everything from affordable novelty items for youngsters to professional instruments for serious musicians.

10 Best Tambourines

To Have A Head Or Not Have A Head: Tambourine Edition

Depending on who you ask, the tambourine can be thought of as an amusing toy for young children, or a serious instrument for the accomplished musician. Some tambourines produce short, tinny sounds while others produce both a rhythmic drumbeat as well as rich, clear notes. There is no right or wrong choice of tambourine in the larger sense; one must merely know by whom the instrument will be played (or played with, as the case may be) and then choose a unit that suits the age, skills, and intent of its user. Simply put, you have to know whether you're looking for a musical toy or a genuine instrument.

Toy tambourines are a great way to introduce children to the basic concepts underlying all music, such as rhythm and melody. As these instruments can be played either to keep the tempo (colloquially referred to as the "beat") or a song or to accent its tune or harmony, they offer a diversity of playing options impressive for such a simple device. Many smaller options are perfectly suited for the smaller hands of a child, and a person looking for a gift or teacher outfitting a musical classroom can select an instrument made from a range of different materials. For the infant or young toddler, a plastic tambourine is often the wisest choice, as its durable construction can stand up to drops, bumps, and bites, and as their often bright coloration attracts the eye and the interest. These options usually produce sharper, shorter notes that sound more like a metallic clank than a musical note, however.

Fortunately, many tambourines featuring genuinely musical jangles (the metal discs that click together to produce the unmistakable sound of a tambourine and which are also known as zils) are lightweight, durable, and low cost enough to be handed over to a young child without much concern either for the child hurting himself or herself or for damaging the object. Consider starting a child with a basic plastic toy type of option, then offering him or her a tambourine that also features a drum-style membrane -- often called the head or skin -- stretched across a circular body. This latter option is what most musicians consider a "real" instrument and can serve as a bridge from play to the practice of actual musical skill.

For the more serious musician, a basic tambourine with jangles but without a head is suitable for adding some percussive accents to a song. These basic options are especially popular for the singer whose principal instrument is his or her voice. However, anyone in search of a bonafide instrument that can be used not only to support the band but to indeed add another layer to the sound of a song, a tambourine complete with a taut membrane is a must. These instruments can be played with a different array of hand and finger positions, with the drum head dampened, silenced, or allowed to resonate fully, and with the jangles controlled based on the angle at which the unit is held.

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