The 10 Best Tambourines

Updated June 23, 2017

10 Best Tambourines
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We spent 43 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top options for this wiki. 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 should include something to meet your needs. We've looked at everything from affordable novelty items for youngsters to professional instruments for serious musicians. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best tambourine on Amazon.

10. RhythmTech True Colors

The user-friendly RhythmTech True Colors is your basic, reliable handheld percussion instrument. It's not particularly special in terms of appearance, but it has sixteen jingles, a durable hoop-style frame, and should last for years and years.
  • comfortable handle
  • lightweight and responsive
  • tone is slightly tinny
Brand True Colors
Model TC4010
Weight 12 ounces
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

9. Cajon Player's Foot

Perfect for a one-man band or for elevating casual toe-tapping, the Meinl Percussion Cajon Player's Foot straps onto almost any shoe or boot with ease, adding a pleasant sound to your step. It's sure to be a hit at any party.
  • body of wood and rubber
  • compact and highly portable
  • discs might fall off with use
Brand Meinl Percussion
Model FJS2S-BK
Weight 4 ounces
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

8. Pink for the Cure

If standard colors just aren't your thing, then opt for the Pink for the Cure — a more feminine selection. The best part about this one is that a portion of profits is donated to a breast cancer charity, so you can feel good about your purchase.
  • jingles are made of nickel
  • twelve inches long
  • not sized for children
Brand Rhythm Tech
Model RT 1060
Weight 9.6 ounces
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

7. YMC Half Moon

When you close your eyes and picture a modern tambourine, chances are it looks a lot like the YMC Half Moon. This low-cost model comes in a range of fun colors, so you're certain to find a shade that suits your sensibilities.
  • made from plastic
  • handle is easy to grip
  • pins can come loose
Brand YMC
Model TAM20-YW-YMC
Weight 1.1 pounds
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

6. Remo Radiant

With its compact eight inch diameter, the practical Remo Radiant produces a high-pitched, crystalline sound that blends well with a variety of other instruments. It's a nice choice for anyone who wants to dip their toe into the world of performance.
  • radiant print on surface
  • frame is durable
  • pricier than other models
Brand Remo Radiant
Model pending
Weight pending
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

5. YMC Percussion Foot

The YMC Percussion Foot creates clear, loud tones thanks to its comparatively large count of twenty individual jingles. Perhaps the most attractive thing about it is its reasonable price tag -- you can get one for every member of the family.
  • not too cumbersome
  • fits nicely on most footwear
  • great for keeping the beat
Brand YMC
Model FTM10-BK
Weight 0.8 ounces
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

4. Dove Bible

The attractive Dove Bible from Zebra Sound makes a wonderful, thoughtful gift for the faithful Christian who also enjoys playing in the church band. Its construction is classic, sturdy, and suitable for frequent use during services.
  • detailed graphic on drum
  • 10 inches in diameter
  • frame is wooden
Brand Zebra Sound
Model ATMDOV10
Weight 14.4 ounces
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

3. Musical Toys Percussion Effect

The specially designed Hohner Kids Musical Toys Percussion Effect unlocks the creative potential within your young ones while also giving them a fun — albeit noisy — way to pass the day. It's an educational toy that any child would love.
  • free of bpa and lead
  • works well as teaching tool
  • parts are encased for protection
Brand Hohner Kids
Model HL608
Weight 6.4 ounces
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

2. Cyclops Dimpled Brass

To infuse your tunes with some south-of-the-border flair, go with the Cyclops Dimpled Brass from Latin Percussion. This pick is ideal if you're a professional player in search of a unique, high-quality sound to take your group to the next level.
  • crafted to last
  • discs are secure
  • simple to master
Brand Latin Percussion
Model LP174
Weight 8 ounces
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

1. Remo Fiberskyn Quadura

The Remo Fiberskyn Quadura serves to remind us all that, in the hands of a capable musician, the tambourine is a fine musical instrument. It's easy to use and will add a wonderful percussive element to any song you choose to play.
  • no tuning necessary
  • produces loud notes
  • three shades available
Brand Remo
Model TA-5210-70
Weight 1.2 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

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.

From Timbrel To Tambourine, A Brief History

Anyone familiar with the Jewish tradition -- either from lifelong devotion or simply from attending a bar mitzvah or bat mitzvah, will likely have heard songs celebrating people "dancing with their timbrels," most notably from a joyous song about the prophet Miriam. The tambourine -- frequently referred to as a timbrel in antiquity -- was a principal instrument of the ancient Hebrew peoples, as it was among many cultures of centuries past.

Likely first developed in Egypt, the use of tambourines either spread to or was independently adopted by peoples all around the ancient world. We see musicians playing such instruments on black figure terra-cotta amphorae from Ancient Greece (the style dates principally to the 7th, 6th, and 5th centuries BCE) and in artwork from across the Arabian Peninsula, South Asia, and beyond.

Instruments approximating the basic tambourine went by many names in days gone by, including the daf, the kanjira, the t'ar, and the rabana, just to name a few. Tambourines were popular instruments for many reasons (many of which still hold true), with their relative ease of construction being one major factor. They were also popular simple because of their ease of play and portability.

As opposed to an instrument requiring tuning of strings for proper sound, hammers or bows for use in playing, or even much practice prior to competence, a tambourine is played as-is and by hand. They are generally lightweight, compact, and durable, all of which were ideal especially for nomadic or semi-peripatetic societies. While tambourines originated in the ancient world, it remains popular today.

The Greatest Songs Of All Time, And Their Tambourines

"Hey, Mr. Tambourine Man," go the opening lyrics of a song written and composed by Nobel laureate Bob Dylan in 1965 and made into a massive hit when recorded by The Byrds later that same year. In fact, the song reached the number one spot on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart, and remains popular today, routinely included on lists of the greatest songs of all time.

While Mr. Tambourine Man may feature the most prominent mention of the musical instrument in recent memory, it is hardly the only occurrence of this elegantly simple object in recent music. The instrument arguable enjoyed a heyday in the 1960s, providing added sparkle to hits such as Time Won't Let Me by The Outsiders and The Beatles's Got to Get You Into My Life, to name two prominent examples by celebrated bands.

There was still plenty of tambourine playing throughout the later decades of the 1900s, though. Celebrated hits of the 1980s like Pictures of You by The Cure and With or Without You by U2 used the crisp jangles of the instrument to help add texture and power to their composition, often allowing the tambourine's jangles to work in concert with the snap of the snare drum.

A recent return to music inspired by folk sounds of the early and middle years of the 20th century has ushered in a resurgence of use of the tambourine, as evidenced by the music of hit-making ensembles such as Mumford and Sons and even in the recent music of Snoop Dogg.

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Last updated on June 23, 2017 by multiple members of the ezvid wiki editorial staff

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