CongaDr+ Tony's Conga Adventures: March 2011

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Set of on off Gon Bops Congas with the first international prototype hardware

This is an unusual set.

These black Gon Bops were made when Gon Bops was transitioning from the Voodoo hardware to the stronger international hardware. This is the only drum Ive seen with this hardware from Gon Bops, and looks like this was a design they ditched in favor of what eventually became the international hardware. In true Gon Bops fashion, every thing that can be put on a functional drum and sold, was.

Check out this hardware, and how the history of these drums is recorded in metal..

Finnish Percussion Conga reskinning

It always amazes me how prolific Cuban music has become around the world. It is said, that many, in places like Norway and Finland, are big time Salsa fans.. go figure..

Here is a rare set of Finnish Percussion congas, in fiberglass, made in Kotaja Finland, as far north as Ireland, near the Russian border.

These drums are some of the best sounding fiberglass drums ive played, a bit more lively them Fugi's or King Congas, a bit more like Ecotones.. nice round full tones, bright slaps, not too ringy with good projection.

They were obviously made by a craftsman who was meticulous about his work, with the hardware hand tooled and super beefy.

They appear to be resin and saw dust, making them a bit heavy, but improving the sound over a pure resin drum.

The set was difficult to skin, as there was very little 'wiggle' room to work with and they could only accommodate a medium thick skin.

It was a pleasure to play this set, as they are rare drums, no doubt.

According to their website, they are not currently in production.

From :

"FP-congas were developed in the beginning of 1980's with the help of former Upi Sorvali who played with UMO at the time. He tested our prototypes while touring around the world with UMO, and with the encouraging feedback Finnish Percussion Kotaja & Vartama Oy(inc.) was formed. Later the name was changed into Finnish percussion Kotaja Oy(inc.).

In result of active co-operation with leading musicians we were able to produce as the german drumming magazine Stick called it "der rolls royce unter den Congas" (The rolls rouce of Congas). Also the conga skin designed with Yrj” Salminen got high reviews on the same magazine.

The high quality of the instrument was achieved through ring design, sufficient thickness and with careful manufacturing. Also a major element was the high quality skin which was made from finnish ox's white-brown pigmented skin. Another speciality was to make the tuning parts out of brass or bronze. The brass rims are cut and polished by hand.

Finnish Percussion Congas have been sold to west-Europe, Middle America, North America and Japan. Some of the best drummers in the world are still faithfull users of our products, cause the reputation as the rolls royce of congas has remaind even though FP-congas have not been manufactured in 15 years.

We now feel that it's time for Finnish Percussion Kotaja Oy(inc.) to start manufacturing FP-congas once again. The world has changed and networked during the past 15 years, which gives us new possibilities to market our product through the internet. Opening of this marketing channel is handled by Instasite Oy (inc.)


We are sad to inform the loyal users of our instruments that the project is currently on hold. We will begin development and manufacturing as soon as possible and will post updates of our progress here on the website."

It never ceases to amaze me how difficult it is to build a functional good sounding conga. There are so many factors and hardly any maker has all of the features one would want in a perfect drum.. the craft is truly art. And working on drums like these, gives one appreciation for exactly how difficult it is. They almost got it right! All in all, once skinned up, these are very nice tubs.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Help Keep Rumba alive in the east bay!! Kitty's Petition!

Here we are brothers and sisters... your chance to support the tradition we all love!

Sign this petition, post the link to your facebook page, tweet it, email it, tell all your friends about it. We can get this very important local venue up and running again.

Kitty has done so much to support Latin music in the bay area.. now's the time for us to take a little time out to support her, and this amazing treasure of a venue for Latin music and dance: