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Guide to Maracas

Maraca : What is it?

Maracas

Maracas, also called rhumba shakers, are rounded heads filled with dried beans or seeds and attached to handles. They are usually played in pairs, with one maraca playing a deep sound and the other sporting a higher pitch. They are commonly used to provide rhythm in folk or pop music, particularly in Latin America.

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Types of Maracas

MaracasMaracas

Kinds of Maracas include the following:

Gourd shell maracas

Gourd shell maracas have heads made of dried calabash, gourd, or coconut shells. They produce a loud, husky sound commonly heard in traditional music. They are usually decorated with bright, colorful patterns.



Leather maracas


Leather maracas are made of cowhide or other animal skin, usually treated to make them stiff and resonant. They produce a deep, slightly muffled sound. They are often stitched at the sides with thick colored thread.



Plastic maracas

Plastic maracas are lighter and more durable than other maracas. They have a loud sound with relatively high pitch. Those with thinner heads have a distinct crystal-like sound. They are available in a wide range of colors and are often designed for children.



Wood maracas


Wood maracas have thin wooden walls, usually polished or painted in bright colors. They produce a loud, hollow sound ideal for setting rhythm in folk music. Their volume is determined by the size of the grains. Larger grains produce louder sounds.

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Choosing Maracas (Buying tips)

Grip: Choose maracas that you can hold comfortably in your hand. Look for flared or curved handles to prevent them from slipping when you play. Rubber or leather handles are ideal for playing with sweaty or slippery hands.

Head size: Choose maracas with large heads for more volume and a deeper sound. Leather maracas are less resonant than other materials, so make sure they are large and hollow enough to resonate with minimum movement. 

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