Musician's Hut

Skip to Main Content »

Search Site

Category Navigation:

About Latin Percussion

The story of Latin Percussion or LP is the passion of one man. A passion which drove him to create, innovate and unmistakably change the face of percussion forever. In 1956 a young mechanical engineer and avid photographer from the Bronx named Martin Cohen happened upon New York's famous Birdland jazz club. He walked in and was greeted by the sounds of Cal Tjader's hot Latin jazz. Cohen was so taken by the infectious music that he became a regular at the Monday night jam sessions, which were headed by flutist Herbie Mann with percussionists like Candido and Jose Mangual, Sr. It was Mangual in particular who was an inspiration to Cohen. "Up until then, there was no role model that exemplified greatness," Cohen said. "That's what I saw in Mangual, and that's what I wanted to be, somebody who had that mastery of something."

Cohen became a student of the 1960's Latin scene, and soon wanted his own set of bongos. It was then that he learned about the politics of Latin percussion. Because of the government-imposed trade embargo against Cuba, finding good instruments in the United States was a difficult prospect at best. This obstacle did not dull the passion of young Cohen, however, and he put his engineering skills to use and created his own set of bongos. Using photos of Johnny Pacheco's bongos, he created his first prototype. "This was the beginning of my learning," Cohen said. "I knew nothing about machining or about wood or metal working. The first wood bongo shell was cut on Friday, and by Monday it was a quarter of an inch smaller. I didn't realize it was wet wood which was cut and that it had to dry first."

Undeterred by this initial setback, Cohen was soon delivering bongos and cowbells to musicians in brown paper bags, soliciting feedback and using the Latin nightclubs as his research and development labs. Cohen's self-described "love affair" with Latin music led to a tradition still in place at LP; the needs of performing musicians are placed ahead of everything else. Cohen's passion and sincerity soon helped him win acceptance in what was then a tightly insular Latin community. As a result, he became friends with many of the players he created instruments for and with. Carlos "Patato" Valdez is a lifelong friend of the Cohen family, and was a frequent visitor to their household. "The King" Tito Puente, another friend and endorser, recalls Cohen trying to learn the mambo at the Palladium. "Martin was a lousy dancer," Puente laughed. "But he was always consulting with us, trying to do the right thing, to get the authentic sound but with modern engineering. He never got 'commercialized'." Puente and Valdez' willingness to work with Cohen have resulted in superior quality LP product lines that bear their names, as well as their stamps of approval.

Cohen's hard work and determination paid off in August of 1964 when he officially started Latin Percussion. Cohen's passion was now his own company. From the beginning, LP has let those who play their instruments do most of the talking. The company's first endorser was Afro-Cuban and jazz drummer Willie Bobo. Today, LP has over 500 endorsers, a list which reads as a veritable "who's who" of the music world. Musicians like Tito Puente, "Patato" Valdez, Carlos Santana, Giovanni Hildago, Armando Peraza and many more all use LP products. Because they are the best, their equipment must be the best as well.

The company that started in the Cohen garage now has a staff of research, design and product developers that keep an ongoing stream of new products coming out. In addition, over 250 people are employed at the manufacturing facility in Thailand. What started as a small family operation has grown to become Latin Percussion, the world's largest producer of hand percussion instruments.

Cohen's commitment from the beginning has been combining authenticity of sound with strong modern design. Today Latin Percussion instruments are played by professional musicians and people from all walks of life. Cohen himself still travels to clubs around the world, taking photographs and talking to musicians, gathering feedback from those who use LP instruments. It's been a long time since one had to violate trade embargoes to get a good pair of bongos. Martin Cohen and the Latin Percussion staff can take substantial credit for that.

In October 2002, Kaman Music Corporation of Bloomfield, CT, the world's largest independent distributor of musical instruments and accessories, purchased Latin Percussion. "This affiliation enables LP to reach a new level of growth through Kaman's superior world-wide distribution network. With this great company behind us, we will be able to pursue product development and line expansions that would otherwise have taken years to achieve." stated Martin Cohen, Founder of LP.

Here are some of the fine percussion products made by LP

LP Giovanni Hidalgo Series
Rarely does a percussionist reach the level of excellence of Giovanni Hidalgo. He has traveled the globe, performing with Dizzie Gillespie, "El Rey," Tito Puente, Carlos Santana, Paul Simon, and many more. He is a brilliant player of all percussion instruments, known primarily as a Master Conguero. His ambidextrous, faultless technical skills and superb musicality, he has created a style all his own. He continuously expands the boundaries of his music.

LP Giovanni Palladium Series
This series has a retro design with unique exterior bands that harkens back to the days of the famous Palladium dance hall. They were designed with Giovanni Hidalgo. All-natural 32" all ash wood shells (satin finish), premium galaxy hardware, great for traditional sit down playing, hand selected natural rawhide heads.

Giovanni Compact Conga
Drum key tunable to different pitches. Can be used anywhere a conga is played. Fits on virtually any basket snare stand. May be muted for quiet practice. Patented and award-winning design. Perfect for use with a drum set, percussion set-up or on its own. Made from a special aluminum alloy.

LP Galaxy Giovanni Series
If the best players had one drum they could take to a gig, what might it be? LP utilized Master Conguero Giovanni Hildago's input to create the exclusive Requinto - the most amazing single conga ever. The combination of the 9" head size, the unique shell contour, and hardware geometry provide the broadest range of tone available in a single drum. It blends deep bass tones, smooth open tones, and clean slaps into one powerful drum.

LP Patato Model Congas
His remarkable career and groundbreaking multi-conga technique has had a powerful impact on countless drummers, percussionists, and music lovers. His contribution to Latin music includes a unique "melodic" approach to conga playing. Since 1970, Patato's association with Latin Percussion has inspired many new product developments, worldwide tours, and recording projects. The Patato Model Conga is just one example of the innovation brought on by this great musician and performer. Played by professional congueros the world over, these fiberglass drums were developed in 1978 after a recording session with the legendary "Patato" at the studio in Martin Cohen's home. Patato's own design required tall drums with a wide belly and small bottom.

LP Accents Armando Peraza Series Congas
Born in Havana, Cuba, and one of the most revered icons in the world of percussion, Armando Peraza is a legendary master on both congas and bongos. Upon arriving in New York City in 1949, he quickly built a reputation of amazingly fast, complicated handwork, experimental techniques and showmanship. During his prolific career, which has spanned more than 60 years, Armando Peraza has performed on more than 100 albums, written over 40 songs and performed/recorded with such musical icons as George Shearing, Cal Tjader, Santana, Jaco Pastorius, Charlie Mingus and Billie Holiday. In 2003, LP unveiled the LP Accents Armando Peraza Signature Series Congas and Bongos as a tribute to this percussion legend.

LP Galaxy Fiberglass Congas
LP Galaxy Fiberglass Congas are the ultimate fiberglass congas ever made. Extended Collar Comfort Curve II Rim which increases tonal range.

LP Classic Model Congas
LP Classic Model Congas were the first wood congas introduced by Latin Percussion. They have become the standard by which other wood congas are judged.

LP Salsa Model Congas
LP Salsa Model Congas stand 28" tall and are designed to accommodate congueros who prefer to play seated. The shell contour is similar to that of LP Classic Model Congas, but with a slightly wider bottom. This helps to keep the drum stable, even during the most aggressive play, and adds to the drum's low and mid-range tones.

LP Original Model Conga
Virtually unchanged since their introduction in the 1960's, LP Original Model Congas have become the standard fiberglass conga of Salsa players the world over.

LP Accent Congas
Four new unique design choices over 3 ply wood shells: Red Marble with chrome hardware; Natural Marble with gold hardware; Lava with gold hardware; Star Gaze with chrome hardware.

LP Accents Richie Garcia Signature Congas and Bongos
LP is proud to introduce a line of congas and bongos to celebrate the unique style of noted percussionist and recording artist Richie "Gajate" Garcia, the namesake of LP's popular Gajate Bracket. LP Accents Richie Garcia Congas and Bongos feature exclusive Richie Garcia-inspired signature art, applied over 3-ply wood shells of sonically optimal Siam Oak. Based on the popular LP Classic Wood Congas and Generation II Bongos, the LP Accents Richie Garcia Congas and Bongos feature a memorable appearance, in part due to the juxtaposition of polished chrome hardware against vivid graphics. Richie's congas and bongos bear his musical and artistic intentions, from the inside of the shell to the outside, and represent thoroughly the embodiment of the notion of "signature drums". They reflect Richie's musicality, aesthetic sense and style in a unique, warm, and colorful fashion that invites one to play!

LP Raul Rekow Signature Series Congas
Raul Rekow has played congas with Carlos Santana since 1976, participating in the groundbreaking melding of Latin, rock and funk styles that characterizes the band's history. For nearly thirty years Rekow has added his pulsating and colorful rhythms to the Santana sound, captivating audiences on five continents. Initially self-taught, Rekow learned about Cuban percussion from fellow Santana veterans Armando Peraza and Orestes Vilato.

LP Junior Wood Congas
LP Jr. Congas are great as an addition to a multi-percussion set up, or for accenting or soloing. They are sold in pairs - one drum with an 8" head and the other with a 9" head, and have a sound that is a cross between a bata drum, a bongo, and a conga.

LP Matador Custom Congas
The LP Matador Custom Conga line features the same high LP Matador quality at a special price.

LP Matador Wood Congas
The LP Matador Conga line from Latin Percussion is ideal for the working musician who desires good sound and quality at a moderate price level.

LP Matador Raul Rekow Custom Fiberglass Congas
LP Matador Fiberglass Congas from Latin Percussion offer quality construction and great sound at moderate prices.

LP Matador Puerto Rican Heritage Congas
The LP Matador Conga line from Latin Percussion is ideal for the working musician who desires good sound and quality at a moderate price level.

LP Matador Fiberglass Congas
The LP Matador Conga line from Latin Percussion is ideal for the working musician who desires good sound and quality at a moderate price level.

LP Accents Matador Drums
Three new special finishes over 3 ply wood shells: Liberty with chrome hardware; Calypso with chrome hardware; Solar Flare with chrome hardware.

LP Matador Custom Accent Congas
Two new fabric wrap choices over 3 ply wood shells: Tropical Fusion with black hardware; Leopard Print with black hardware.

LP Aspire Wood Congas
LP Aspire Wood Congas are ideal for students, beginners and aspiring musicians. They provide great value at affordable prices.

LP Aspire Fiberglass Congas LP Aspire Fiberglass Congas are ideval for students, beginners, and aspiring musicians. They provide great value at an affordable price and are crafted from fiberglass.

LP Aspire Santana Congas and Bongos
No band has been more important in popularizing Latin rhythms to the masses than Santana. Legendary Carlos Santana, world-renowned musician has had a long and celebrated relationship with LP. A member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Santana has sold more than 90 million records, performed for 100 million people globally and won 10 Grammy Awards. Celebrating the career of Carlos Santana, Latin Percussion has created a Santana signature line that includes these exclusive Santana commemorative design, fabric wrapped, fiberglass drums.

LP Compact Bongos
Full size 7-1/4" and 8-5/8" heads and a patented, award-winning design. The compact design allows for easy placement with drum kits, while the sound projects the same as full size bongos. Playable with sticks or hands, they are made from a special aluminum alloy and are also drum key tunable. A great compliment to LP Giovanni Compact Congas.

LP Galaxy Giovanni Series Wood Bongos
Crafted of sonically superior North American Ash and manufactured to ensure virtually invisible glue joints, which are the result of precision stave fabrication during the assembly process.

LP Fiberglass Bongos
Virtually indestructible, with steel reinforced bearing edges molded into the fiberglass to provide maximum strength.

LP Galaxy Fiberglass Bongos
Steel reinforced bearing edges molded into the fiberglass provides maximum strength. Inside of the shell is reinforced with a layer of Kevlar fiber, the bullet proof vest material which is two times stronger than steel, for even greater durability.

LP Raul Rekow Bongos
Bongos are 3 ply wood shells wrapped with a Vibrant tiger print fabric and Special Gold Glitter Accents.

LP Valje Bongos
Authentic Valje contoured shell with traditional rims and Cuban style steel bottoms.

LP Generation II Wood Bongos
Constructed of kiln dried, Siam Oak and hand selected rawhide heads.

LP Generation III Wood Bongos
Slightly larger head size with the large half of the bongos featuring a head diameter of 9" instead of the more traditional 8-5/8". Provides additional bottom end response and greater volume. in a natural light wood finish.

LP Generation III Triple Bongos
Same 9" and 7-1/4" head sizes as the regular Generation III Bongos but with a third 5-1/2" diameter bongo added.

LP Matador Wood Bongos
Kiln dried, environmentally friendly Siam Oak shells and a fitted cast aluminum bottom.

LP Matador Fiberglass Bongos
Durability and projection of fiberglass shells at an affordable price.

LP Matador Custom Bongos
High strength steel bottoms and new ribbed shell design.

LP Matador Puerto Rican Heritage Bongos
Traditional style with contemporary construction features. Siam Oak shells with a hand painted Puerto Rican Flag design. Cuban style steel bottom.

LP Aspire Wood Bongos
Constructed of kiln dried, environmentally friendly Siam Oak. Smaller 6-3/4" and 8" natural rawhide heads. Cuban-style, steel bottoms.

LP Aspire Fiberglass Bongos
Great entry level set of bongos, extra durability and projection. High gloss finish.

LP Aspire Accent Series Wood Bongos
Constructed of kiln dried, environmentally friendly Siam Oak. Smaller 6-3/4" and 8" natural rawhide heads. Cuban-style, steel bottoms.

LP CP Traditional Bongos
Constructed of kiln dried, environmentally friendly Siam Oak. Smaller 6" and 7" natural rawhide heads.

LP Tito Puente Timbales
The late Tito Puente will always be remembered as "El Rey del Timbal" (The King of the Timbale). Puente was responsible for bringing timbales from the rear to the forefront of the band in Latin dance music and Latin jazz. He was the winner of four Grammy Awards, has a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame and received the National Endowment of the Arts Award from President Clinton. Puente's craving for innovation and perfection helped lead to the design of LP's Tito Puente Model Timbales. Tito was honored when a set of his namesake Timbales was placed into the Smithsonian Institute's permanent collection. All LP Tito Puente Timbales, Thunder Timbs, and Timbalitos are sold complete with a chrome plated, heavy duty, steel Timbale Stand. LP Timbale Shells are available in genuine stainless steel, solid brass, or bronze; each possessing its own distinct sound. The genuine stainless steel shells produce very bright and crisp, loud sounds; the solid brass shells produce warmer sounds; the bronze produces a superior and distinctive cutting cascara sound.

LP Tito Puente Thunder Timbs
LP Tito Puente Thunder Timbs are extra-deep timbales with 15" and 16" diameter shells, and an over-sized depth of 10". They provide additional volume and increased bass tones.

LP Tito Puente Timbalitos
Tito Puente began incorporating LP Timbalitos into his set up in 1979 after an LP sponsored world tour. They have a distinct sound and provide a great contrast to other timbales.

LP Karl Perazzo Signature Timbales
Every musician has an idol, a performer or group that embodies what they wish to become. From his childhood in San Francisco, Karl Perazzo wanted to play with Santana. His life-long dream was realized in 1991 when he joined Santana to play timbales. LP has introduced the new timbales carrying the Karl Perazzo name tag, continuing a tradition of collaborating with Karl to produce instruments that deliver signature sounds.

LP Mini Timbales
LP Mini Timbales are fashioned after LP's famous full-size Tito Puente Timbales, just smaller. They feature 6" and 8" in diameter and 3-1/4" deep, chrome plated steel shells with authentic Cuban-style tuning.

LP Matador Timbales
LP Matador Timbales from Latin Percussion offer traditional sound and excellent value for the intermediate player.

LP Aspire Timbales
LP Aspire Timbales are a great and affordable place to begin learning the magic of timbale playing, whether used traditionally or as an addition to a drum kit.

Shop for Latin Percussion


My Cart

You have no items in your shopping cart.

Community Poll

How do you like our new site?