Hassan Abdel Magid Professional Fish Skin Riq
Hassan Abdel Magid Professional Fish Skin Riq

The Magic Of The Riq

There’s no doubt about the magic of the riq. Skilled players seem to have a whole orchestra inside a 22cm diameter drum. As it is one of the most ancient instruments in the world, thousands of years old, it’s techniques are very developed. Featuring 5 double cymbals, you can do absolutely everything with this drum. Different playing positions, complex finger patterns are a glimpse of what is bared in the Riq.

What Should I Check When Looking for A Professional Riq

So, you’ve settled up to play the Riq, and you are on quest for the best instrument. Before hitting the road there are some important things to keep in mind, let’s check them up quickly.

  1. Weight. Don’t fool your self. You are going to lift the riq for hours, and it is going to be somewhat uncomfortable after sometime. For this reason, it is highly  recommended to get a light riq. Let’s get in proportions. Heavy weight is any riq from 1,100g and above. That riq is too heavy to play, and you are likely to put it aside after few minutes. Medium weight is around 900g, it is a good all around weight, but it can get better. Optimal weight: Anywhere around 750g. If you see a tunable riq which is under 600g, that’s a red alert. You are probably getting very cheap wood with nickel-silver-mix cymbals. The only exception is Hassan Fish Skin riqs, which are non-tunable, and can get to 650g sometimes.
  2. Diameter. The most common sizes are 22cm, 23cm & 24cm. The bigger the riqs, obviously the heavy it is. If you are looking for a high performance riq, try to stick with the 22cm size. If you are looking for more “arabic” feel – go for 23cm or 24cm.
  3. Skin type. There quite of few options for the ‘head’ of the riq. From plain plastic, black slim plastic, to fiber or fish skin. Each one has it’s own distinguished sound characteristics. The black plastic tends to be more punchy and tight, where as the fiber is more warm and balanced. The fish skin has it’s own charm, as it is very well known from classical Arabic music.
  4. Tuning. How do you go with tuning? There are 3 options for you there. 1st category are the non-tunable riqs, including Hassan fish skin riqs. Those come recommended when looking for the lightest weight. 2nd are the exterior ring tuning mechanism, those are indeed tunable, but the metal frame, can interfere to some when playing specific hits on the riq. The best option out there are riqs with KEVORK system, also known as ‘internal tuning’ – these riqs are lightweight and the tuning is easily done with an hex key. The absence of the exterior frame helps to hold the riq correctly and achieve the best sounds from the instrument.


Choose your riq carefully. Every aspect and small change in the riq, will affect eventually your playing, and the amount of joy. Take all the parameters from the list above to tailor the perfect Riq for you. Eventually, never stop practicing and your technique will be the reward.


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