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Buyers' guide: cowbells

5 of the best from £24

Whether you use a cowbell to hammer out a 'metal' four-to-the-bar or to play exciting Afro-Cuban bell parts (and that now includes using your left foot to do so!) there is a humongous array of different bells in all shapes, sizes and, subsequently, sounds available.

Many people seem to regard cowbells as rather dull-sounding novelties but there are so many great-sounding models from which to choose these days and, while it sounds like common sense, you should select a bell or two to fit the type of music you're going to be performing. So don't just dive in and pick the loudest cowbell in the shop (unless that's exactly what you're after).

Here are our top five cowbells from £24...

Pete Engelhart Metal Percussion Cowbells
£25.99 - £135

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Pete Engelhart is a serious artisan who has quite literally forged a reputation as the most prolific producer of handmade cowbells (amongst other wonderful other-worldly creations such as the popular 'ribbon crasher') and all with distinctive, musical tones, shapes and designs that take the realm of metal percussion into the future.

Pearl Horacio Hernandez Signature
£24 - £35

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'El Negro's' range of bells is an extremely musical and highly affordable set that possesses clear, singing tones and features an attractive bronze finish. Favourites in the range are the 'cla-bell', designed for foot pedal playing, the 'timbale' bell and two sizes of 'cha-cha' bell. The bells' clever mount can be set in two different positions for multi-bell usage.

Latin Percussion Salsa Series
£28 - £35

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The standard for many players, these bright, clean-sounding bells were designed specifically for Afro-Cuban music, although you can of course adapt them to all styles. They possess a livelier tone than many of the other somewhat dulled down models available on the market these days.

Gon Bops Alex Acuna Signature
£27 (Cha Cha Bell) £30 (Bombo Bell)

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Modelled on Alex's personal favourite collection of models, they feature flat playing surfaces, chrome plating and innovative vice clamp mount, which fits on any 9.5mm to 12mm rod.

Latin Percussion Ridge rider Series
£33 - £43

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The reinforced 'ridge' is made from the same material as LP's sturdy Jam Blocks and, when struck with a stick, focuses the tone and increases durability. Available as 'Rock Ridge', 'Classic Ridge' and the smaller 'Li'l Ridge'.

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