Doumbeks are a goblet-shaped drum made of metal or clay, native to the Near East. Doumbeks are played as a part of traditional folk and classical music all around the Mediterranean and nearly everywhere in the Middle East. In most traditional technique, the doumbek is placed on the lap and struck with the fingers of both hands. The first doumbek shell artifacts have been carbon dated to 4,000 BC and were found Bohemia. A Celtic tribe called the Boiis moved south instead of west like the other tribes, and it appears they developed the doumbek there.
While skilled players can make an astonishing variety of sounds on it, the two basic sounds are a low, resonant note (dum) made by striking the center of the head, and a sharp, clicky note (tek) made by striking near the edge. The name "doumbek originated from the these two basic sounds. The third basic stroke, known as a "kah" stroke, is essentially a "tek" but struck with the left hand ("dum" and "tek" are done with the right hand) and often just a wee bit softer than a "tek". If you've heard belly-dance music, you've heard doumbeks.
Doumbeks can have several types of heads. The synthetic heads produce clear and crisp sounds in a wide variety of pitches. This "fishtone" synthetic head is also stronger than a natural skin. With this head, you don't have to worry about heat and humidity affecting the drum as with the natural animal skin heads. The "fishtone" synthetic head is made to sound similar to the natural fishskin heads, which are rarely used since they are so delicate and weather sensitive. Natural goatskin heads are popular, and provide lower, more subtle tones. Calfskin heads are more translucent than goatskin. They produce higher tones and sharper pitches, and tend to be stronger than goatskin heads.
We've broken down our doumbeks into categories to allow you to better locate just the right doumbek.