Musi­cal instru­ments of Puer­to Rican music have roots in the cul­tures of Puer­to Rico’s Tai­no, Span­ish, and African tra­di­tions. Musi­cal instru­ments used in Puer­to Rican music are well known instru­ments used in present day music. These instru­ments would include such intru­ment as the sax­o­phone, trom­bone, trum­pet, cel­lo and violin.The oth­er instru­ments that are typ­i­cal­ly used in the var­i­ous types of Puer­to Rican music are not as well known to main stream music audiences.some where used by the navives of Puer­to Rico the Taino indi­ans oth­ers where invent­ed in Puer­to Rico and still oth­ers have roots in the african cul­ture brought over to Puer­to Rico dur­ing the slave trades. I will try to name and explain the not so well known instru­ments in the folow­ing pages.

timbales_smTim­bales:  which are a set of drums con­sist­ing of two drums with dif­fer­ent pitch­es, and two cow bells,cymbals and some­times also it will include a wood­block.  The two drums are made of met­al and have adjustable skins stretched over the heads. The drums are mount­ed on a stand which also serves to attach cow­bells and cym­bals. The drums are played with dow­el-like sticks but may also be played with the bare hand Using the sides of the drum as well as on the drum heads. The sound of the tim­bales is best demon­strat­ed by the famous artist Tito Puente as is in the song: El Tim­balon.

bongosBon­gos:  are a vari­ety of small drums, derived from African roots.It con­sists of a pair of unequal sized small drums that are joined togeth­er. The small­er drum is called the “male”, or minor drum, while the larg­er is the “female” or major drum. They are main­ly played sit­ting down, held between the knees.


congasCon­gas:  The con­ga is an ancient musi­cal instru­ment not orig­i­nal­ly from Puer­to Rico. The con­ga drum was adapt­ed from Africa where it began as sol­id, hol­lowed out log with a nailed-on skin. There are four dif­fer­ent sizes of con­ga drums. The largest is called the tum­ba, and the small­est is called the niño. Some artists use a set of all four sizes. The con­ga has an adjustable skin.  Regard­less of its design, this instru­ment is an impor­tant part of the per­cus­sion sec­tion

palitosPal­i­tos:  They are per­haps the most ancient or prim­i­tive musi­cal instru­ment, a pair of “sticks” that are banged togeth­er to pro­vide per­cus­sion rhythm.Palitos are usu­al­ly two cylin­dri­cal hard­wood sticks approx­i­mate­ly 20 — 25 cm long and about 2.5 — 3 cm in diam­e­ter. They are played by lay­ing one stick acoss the palm of the hand so that one end rests light­ly on the fin­ger­tips. This makes the sound of the stick res­onate when it is struck by the oth­er stick, which is held between the thumb and first two fin­gers of the oth­er hand.


guiro_2Güiro:  Tra­di­tion­al Puer­to Rican musi­cal intru­ments are believed to have orig­i­nat­ed with the Tai­no peo­ple. Most note­wor­thy is the güiro, a notched hol­lowed-out gourd.  The güiro is made by carv­ing the shell of the gourd and carv­ing par­al­lel flut­ing on its sur­face. It is played by hold­ing the güiro in one hand with the thumb insert­ed into the back sound hole to keep the instru­ment in place. The oth­er hand usu­al­ly holds the scraper and plays the instru­ment. The scraper is more prop­er­ly called a “pua”. A rhyth­mic, rasp­ing sound is pro­duced.  Play­ing the güiro usu­al­ly requires both long and short sounds, which are made by scrap­ing both up and down in long or short strokes.  The size of the güiro can vary wide­ly although it typ­i­cal­ly ranges from 25 — 35 cm long.