Hi all, I get asked a range of questions on buying a new tabla set or choosing the right tabla skin and scale so I thought I’d write up a quick note about this. We mainly sell tabla all around the UK, Europe and the USA. Giving you the optimum tabla is my main job so you actually enjoy your music. These are all my thoughts and views from my own experience of dealing with a range of styles of tabla. 

 I provide this customised approach to all of my customers. Home visits to me will include answering all of these questions and I also measure your posture, hand size and playing style to then give you the right instrument, it’s like visiting Olivanders Wand Shop from Harry Potter! 

First of all, where will you be playing your tabla?

Regardless of playing ability, we recommend you buy the best quality as that will inspire all students to play their tabla instead of it just sitting there collecting dust! So please trust me when I recommend a certain specification to your requirements. 

So, where will you be using your tabla? 

  • Bhajans / kirtans
  • Accompanying Indian classical instruments
  • Studio recording
  • Classical vocal
  • Riaz (tabla practice)
  • Ghazals
  • Popular music – Bollywood / Bhangra etc
  • Qawali 
  • Orchestra / Eastern / Western
  • A mix of the above


What size do you want and what is the desired pitch?

Your playing style, posture, hand size, desired pitch will all determine the ideal size for your tabla set. If you want something in between C to C# on the standard octave, then you can choose between 5.25” to 5.75” sizes. We also supply 6” dayans on the higher scale of C# and also the pakhawaj style tabla in the same sizes of 6”, 6.25”, 6.5” and 7”. 

Tabla on the higher scale like D, E, F are ideal on a 5.25” or 5.5” size. 

Style of skin 

 Tabla skins that we stock come in a range of styles supplied from the finest makers in India and in our workshops. So depending on the style of tabla that you play and whom you accompany, we can recommend the ideal tabla. These are all my thoughts and views from my own experience of dealing with a range of styles of tabla. 


We supply the below ranges of tabla skins:

  • Banaras tabla skins
    • Ideal for all styles of accompaniment, perfect for open hand playing aswell as closed 
    • Ideal scales Lower octave C to A and higher octave C to D
    • Good for riaz on the larger sized tabla
    • Requires a bit more power and improves the clarity of your hand
    • Majestic, deep sound and open in tone 
    • The tabla tone opens up slowly and made to last
    • Thick syahi and skin on baya to produce a sweet and heavy bass
    • Thick syahi to produce a long resonance 
    • Heavy kinaar 
    • Available in all scales and sizes 
    • Double gajra style is available with exceptional work on syahi and gajra balance 
    • Durable and long lasting 
  • Kolkata / Calcutta tabla skins 
    • The best for performances and studio recording, an all round perfect drum for most styles of accompaniment
    • Good for riaz on the larger sized tabla
    • Clean in finish and appearance
    • Can produce very delicate notes and sensitive to play 
    • Ideal scales Lower octave C to A and higher octave C to F
    • Baya syahi applied similar to a dayan which has a layered finish with a beautiful resonance and feels nice on the wrist to produce a wide spectrum of sound, available in thin, medium and thick skin. We recommend medium skins which last longer and nice to work with for the tabla player
    • The choice of Ustads (Music maestros)
    • Crystal clear quality of sound, pure tone and maintains scale
    • Crisp kinaar and tone on syahi 
    • Thin syahi with a circular layered finish
    • Double gajra as standard and perfectly put together and in balance 
    • Available in two styles:
      • Concert quality which has a short lifespan due to being made for a few uses on stage and made on scale straightaway   
      • Professional quality which is made to last and the skin takes around 2-3 months to open up once settled. We recommend this style as it will last longer and produce a richer tonal quality as time goes b
  • Pune tabla skins and Mumbai tabla skins
    • Made on your order as we prefer to work on that basis of getting the perfect skin made to your spec 
    • Pure and rich tonal quality which will open up as time goes by
    • A good all round tabla which will be fine to play in any style of accompaniment and studio recording
    • Special baya syahi applied similar to a dayan which has a layered finish with a beautiful resonance and feels nice on the wrist to produce a wide spectrum of sound
    • Good for riaz on the larger sized tabla
    • Brilliant resonance, softer syahi sound and open sur 
    • Thick syahi with a circular layered finish
    • Sturdy in build like a Banaras Skin but a much cleaner sound 
    • The choice of Ustads (Music maestros)
  • Delhi tabla skins 
    • Delhi is a unique location and draws influences from Punjab and Banaras style skins
    • Slightly thinner syahi compared to Banaras style
    • Open and resonant quality of sound
    • Syahi has a crisp sound and clean application
    • Skins produce great tonal quality on most scales on any octave
    • Good for accompaniment on bhajans, kirtans and classical music 
    • Optimum scales on the higher octave 

Style of shell

  • Bayan Shell options
      • Shells are all different for all styles of baya, for eg Banaras bayans are quite tall compared to others. 
      • Material: Bayan shells come in a range of metals, brass, brass with nickel finish, copper, pattern engraved, hammer finish
  • Weight: we recommend a weight of 3.5kg to 4kg – this is dependent on the style of skin going
    • None of our bayans use lead! Please beware of this as some places add that in as a cheap way out of making a heavier shell 
  • Dayan Shell options
    • Depending on the style of dayan you require, we can recommend the right type of wood, shape and depth of carving 
    • We offer a full range of wood, shisham, neem, vijaysaar etc and I also make dayans using English willow in my workshop here in the UK. Please be careful of anyone who claims to sell original black shisham, this wood is extremely rare and protected in many areas of India. However, we have the right contacts that can provide this but one must wait for a while before it can be verified and sourced 
    • Finishes available are natural wax polished and a range of coloured varnishes, if you are buying good wood then you want to see the grains and beauty of the product so we recommend a natural wax polish

After all of this configuration, we always recommend that you buy a sturdy bag to protect your tabla. A good quality gym bag with wheels works wonders here in the UK, if you are constantly travelling and performing then we can provide a high quality fibreglass tabla flightcase for you in a range of colours and ability to fit in 2 or 3 tabla. All new tabla purchased from me will come with a hard cover. 

 Then the rest is up to you! You can have the best tabla, but if you don’t PRACTICE then it’s a waste of your money and your teachers time 🙂 

 If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me. 


Thank you