Where to Buy Taiko Drums in the US – My Personal Recommendations
These are my personal recommendations for where to buy taiko drums in the United States. In this article, I’ll be focusing on makers that I’ve purchased instruments from with my own money.
Things I Keep in Mind When I Buy Taiko Drums
Before we get started, there are a few things to keep in mind when buying taiko drums. First, the instruments sound very different even if they are the same make and model. Different makes and models sound even more different. If at all possible, it’s best to play the actual drum you are considering.
Second, keep in mind you will need to maintain and repair your taiko at some point. It’s a good idea to plan ahead because a manufacturer may not repair taiko from another manufacturer. If you plan on mailing your taiko to get them repaired, be sure to research shipping costs. As you might imagine, shipping costs can really add up, especially when mailing multiple, large taiko drums.
Some of the questions you will want to ask are:
- Where can I go for taiko repair?
- Will they repair drums from another manufacturer?
- How will I transport my drum(s) to the workshop for repair, and how much will it cost?
Asano Taiko US
This is where I go for taiko repair, maintenance, and to buy supplies like drum sticks.
Since I value this relationship tremendously, most of the drums I own were purchased from Asano Taiko US.
Asano Taiko US is one of the few places in the US that you can buy taiko that are made from a single log. Taiko made from a single log are have a unique sound and are very durable. However, they are also much heavier and more expensive.
Also, Asano Taiko US is one of the few US sellers with a physical location. This means you can check out the actual drum you are buying, provided it’s in stock. Taiko drums even from the same make and model can sound very different. Therefore, being able to hear the actual drum you plan on buying is a huge advantage.
Miyamoto Unosuke Shoten is one of the world’s leading taiko manufacturers, especially when it comes to certain traditional taiko styles such as Edo Bayashi, Kabuki Bayashi, and Minyo.
The other place that I purchase taiko from is kaDON, which is powered by Miyamoto Unosuke Shoten.
kaDON has access to Miyamoto Unosuke Shoten’s entire catalog, and is able to offer a wide range of other instruments and accessories in addition to taiko. kaDON is also one of the few places in the US that offer taiko made from a single log. If you are looking for the unique sound of a single log taiko drum, you should consider kaDON.
However, kaDON currently does not have a physical store in the US. This means you will not be able to preview inventory. Furthermore, maintenance and repairs will need to be done in Japan.
Kato Taiko has contributed to the spread of taiko across North America by providing access to affordable instruments.
Made from recycled wine barrels, Kato Taiko are much more affordable than drums made from a single log. The drums are a fraction of the cost, yet still very durable and high quality.
Kato Taiko shares the same building as Asano Taiko US in Torrance, CA, and offers maintenance and repair services. If you are in the market for affordable drums that are also high quality, you should consider Kato Taiko. I own a Kato Taiko drum and it’s great.
Other Sellers I Consider When I Buy Taiko
World Sphere Taiko – I don’t own any World Sphere Taiko drums, but I’ve played several and they’re great.
Taiko Center Online Shop – I’ve never bought from Taiko Center but several colleagues have. I noticed they have a wide selection of products, with a wide range of price points. They are based in Japan but ship internationally.
Sellers to Avoid – Do NOT Buy Taiko Here
I occasionally go on eBay or Craigslist to see if there are any taiko drums up for sale. Almost all of the listings I’ve come across are low-quality items that are only useful for decoration. Very rarely is there a listing for something that might remotely be usable as a musical instrument.
The same applies for Alibaba and AliExpress. I check these sites now and then, and I have yet to come across anything worth considering.
Cost of Ownership
Regardless of which maker you decide to go with, taiko drums are not cheap. However, it’s important to consider not only the sticker price, but the cost of ownership as well.
The sticker price of taiko drums may be high, but they retain their value extremely well. An Asano or Miyamoto drum made of solid zelkova may cost $5000, but it will still be worth $2500 in 10-15 years. The same applies to Kato Taiko or World Sphere, where a $1500 drum will still be worth $500-750 in 10-15 years. Of course, the caveat is that the drums need to be in good condition.
It’s a very different perspective when you think of the cost as $250/year for a top-tier taiko, and $100/year for an excellent quality taiko. For this reason, I think the cost of ownership is just as important as the sticker price.
I hope a taiko drum finds its way into your life. Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions about buying taiko.
Please reach out if you would like to talk taiko!