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A List of Cabasa Percussion Instruments

Updated April 17, 2017

The cabasa is a rattle-like percussion instrument that can be played with many techniques, depending on how the instrument is crafted. The cabasa is traditionally played as a hand instrument, but it also can be played as a foot instrument with a pedal and as a drum-kit mounted instrument. The instrument works by rotating multiple strands of loosely strung beads around a gourd to make a syncopated, scratching sound.

Latin Percussion Traditional Cabasa

Latin Percussion makes a type of cabasa based on the design of the instrument's first model, which was made of a coconut shell and plant seeds. However, the new version is made of durable plastic, wood, beads, and a nylon cord. Latin Percussion's recreation sounds more like the Afuchie Cabasa than the primitive traditional cabasa, but it lets the musician play the instrument with the physical feeling of the original instrument with the improved timbre of the contemporary versions.

Latin Percussion Afuche Cabasa

Latin Percussion's Afuche Cabasa is the type of cabasa most commonly used by percussionists. The instrument has a distinct cylindrical top with steel beads. The handle and ends of the cylindrical section are made of wood. The Afuche-style cabasa has a stainless steel cylinder for a gourd and stainless steel beads that are wrapped around the cylinder in layers of circles so there are no ends to the strings. The steal cylinder is riveted and bumpy. The Afuche version originated before 1970 and is considered the most popular hand-percussion instrument of all time.

Meinl Foot Cabasa

Percussionists with their hands filled behind a drum set and other musicians can use the Meinl Foot Cabasa while playing other instruments. The Foot Cabasa uses a drum pedal mechanism like the one found on a kick drum pedal instead of a handle to rotate the cabasa's beads. The pedal can be put to the side of a drummer's other pedals for seamless use. Additionally, guitarists might use the instrument to add some extra percussion sound while they tap their foot to keep time. The Foot Cabasa's cylinder resembles the one found on the Afuche Cabasa.

Pearl Gatling Cabasa

The Pearl Gatling Cabasa is designed to rest on a stand to go alongside a percussionist's other instruments. The Gatling Cabasa resembles the Afuche-style Cabasa, but it is designed to be played while on its holding stand. The instrument can be played like the Afuche Cabasa, but it also has a second crank handle that's used to continuously rotate the beads in one direction without stopping like a Gatling gun.

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About the Author

Dan Stone started writing professionally in 2006, specializing in education, technology and music. He is a web developer for a communications company and previously worked in television. Stone received a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and a Master of Arts in communication studies from Northern Illinois University.