Jamming With J-Lo

By Andrew Lentz Published September 30, 2009

The new Eric Velez Congas and Bongos from Toca are a joy to lay your hands on — that is when you’re not ogling their two-ply Asian oak shells swathed in a handsome sunburst finish.

For Velez — percussionist behind Latin superstars Jennifer Lopez and Marc Antony as well as legends including Eddie Palmieri — no ordinary tubs would do. Eric Velez Signature congas are constructed with the kind of craftsmanship and quality demanded by someone of Velez’s skills, many of which are on full display at the Montreal Drum Fest and NAMM 2009.

The drums’ six tuners as opposed to the usual five promotes symmetrical cross-lug tensioning for more even tuning and pitch stability. Black mirror chrome Easy Play hoops for secure seating of the natural bison heads are easy on both the eyes and the hands.

Crucially, the drums stand 28" tall, as opposed to the standard 30". This allows for a more natural posture, making long performances easier for traditional seated congueros. Available in 11", 11-3/4" and 12-1/2" head sizes.

Why not complement these congas with a matching set of bongos in 7" and 9" diameters. Like the congas, Eric Velez Signature Bongos are fitted with select bison skins. Evey tone from high, crisp slaps to throaty low-mids are at your fingertips. The notched shell design harks back to the handmade Cuban instruments of the '40s and '50s for a touch of pure class. $369–$559.

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