CongaDr+ Tony's Conga Adventures: vintage Valje conga and quinto restoration for Maddie's hubby

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Pin It


vintage Valje conga and quinto restoration for Maddie's hubby

Another fun project, and a very thoughtful fathers day gift. Maddie in the east bay commissioned my services to restore this old set of Valje congas.

Dont we all wish we had a wife who would get an old set of Valjes refurbished for her man on Fathers day! She sure gets the whole 'the way to a man's heart is through his drums' idea.

.... or perhaps thats just my heart.. but anyway.

This is a set of 14's, as i call them, from the Valje sunset strip shop, 3314 address in L.A. ... the older tubs Tom made.

They were in great shape, for the most part. With a few hairline cracks, but in really good condition overall.

They needed new skins as the stock Calf skins last about 10 years. The drums are over 30 years old, and in almost new condition, really.

A few solid repairs, new skins and a test drive... these drums are now sound studio quality drums.

amazing guy, this Tom Flores. He made the sweetest drums.

These older models are slighly thinner, with tighter, mostly continuous quarter sawn oak. This is more Gonzalo Vergara like in its thinness, and a better sounding drum, overall, i think.

The Valje 12's, or the ones made at 3312, or around that time, were made a bit thicker, with not so much attention to the tight continuous grain. The 12's tend to need more work, more often.

Akbar went to a thinner shell when he made Valje congas in San Francisco. i just played a set yesterday, more dry and woody sounding, almost Mahogany in its woody overtones and lack of defined ring.

Somewhere i was reading that Tom purchased a Vergara to learn how he built drums. The very early 5banded Mahogany quinto had the same shape as a Vergara quinto, and with the 5 bands. Vergara congas were thin, in comparison to most modern high end drums.

so, as far as this set, and this fun project... off they go, to one happy Pop, on a memorable fathers day.



  1. Hey Tony,

    Jim here...(Maddie's husband). I got my early Father's Day gift today. They look and sound great! I bought the quinto at Drums Unlimited on Wabash Ave. in Chicago in 1970. It was such a great drum that I ordered a matching conga, but month after month the drum never arrived, so in the summer of '72 Maddie and I took a little road trip to LA and I bought the matching conga at the shop on Sunset. They've been a joy ever since. Thanks for your great work!!

  2. Jim!

    Yea! My pleasure, for sure.

    Nice to hear some history on these fine drums. Do tell, if you met Tom himself and have an experience to share.

    They are both wonderful examples of the best of Valje.

    The segunda, or conga, is one of the nicest Flores drums ive seen, with very nice 'marbled', or pearlised grain. Note, it needed absolutely no work on it, other than a new skin.

    Hope you enjoy them for a long time, and pass them along... as i understand your son plays.


  3. Thanks for the info on Valjes , I'm an Ashiko builder in Eugene and a local music store just hired me to repair a nice set of Valjes. I'd never heard of them before but must admit that even w/ some cracks they are the nicest sounding congas I've ever played. I can't wait to fix them up , but first more research.
    Connor , Slap Happy Drums

  4. I really like your writing style, great information, thankyou for posting. Vintage Oaks


Thanks for checking in, please feel free to contribute.

Feel free to contact me directly at