Union One Earth UB1 Bongo Feature Overview
- All Wood Shells
- 6″ and 7″ Natural Hides
- Chrome-plated tuning lugs
- Tuning key included
The Union One Earth UB1 Bongos are a budget-priced set of bongos aimed towards beginner musicians. They use a different tuning method than most bongos in higher price ranges, and are one of the most popular bongos on Amazon.
UB1 Bongo Overview and Photos
When we first came across the Union One Earth UB1 Bongos, we were pretty excited to try them out. They looked like a quality set of bongos for under $40, which is very hard to find. They have pretty good Amazon reviews as well, so we looked forward to receiving them.
The UB1 Bongo features 6″ and 7″ drums with natural hide heads.
Holding the UB1 Bongos, they certainly looked the part and felt good right away. However, as we spent more time with them it became apparent that these bongos were lacking in many areas.
UB1 Bongo Build Quality
While the UB1 looks beautiful, upon closer inspection the build quality was pretty rough. looking at the bongos from the underside, the construction looks fairly rushed.
You can also see that the chrome ring around the bottom of the drum is not secured and has a sizable gap away from the shell in different spots. It appears it wasn’t glued on well enough, and several times I had to press it back on to prevent it from falling off.
An even bigger disappointment are the tuning gear that came on the UB1. Unlike other bongos featured in our best bongos for beginners, these bongos tighten from the top of the drums and put all the stress of the hardware around a very thin chrome ring that runs along the rim. This design decision seemed to lead to a decrease in sound quality, as we’ll go into next.
One other huge negative is when you’re moving this bongo around, if you grab the chrome rings with your fingers, you risk cutting yourself! We saw another Amazon reviewer complain about this, and sure enough we got cut as well. The hardware isn’t so thin that just picking up the UB1 will slice your finger, but if you happen to slide your finger on the hardware while you’re holding it, you could get cut. These are not kid friendly bongos.
UB1 Bongo Sound Quality
While the UB1 Bongos sounded okay (better than toy bongos), overall we were disappointed in the sound produced by the macho (smaller) drum. Even when tightening as tight as the tuning wrench would allow us to turn without fear of injuring ourselves or destroying the skins, the sound remained fairly deep without much “pop”.
The likely cause of this is the decision to setup the tuning gear as they did. The chrome hardware is so thin, it’s hard to believe that it isn’t bending and loosing the skins. This doesn’t allow a lively sound that the bongos are known for.
Overall, the sound is OK. It’s not as bright of a sound as bongos you typically hear, but the deeper sound they produce isn’t all bad.
UB1 Bongo Price/Value
If there’s one redeeming feature of the Union One Earth UB1 Bongos, it’s that they’re priced very cheaply. At the sub-$40 price point, they actually offer decent value despite all the drawbacks. You’ll be able to learn to play the bongos with the UB1, but won’t get a very impressive or rewarding sound.
Are the Union Earth One UB1 Bongos Good for Beginners?
The UB1 Bongos are good for beginners who want to try out the bongos for as little money as possible. We’d recommend you spend $10-15 more and get a better sounding, higher-quality set of bongos, though. Take a look at our Tycoon Percussion Ritmo Bongos review to see what you can get if you just spend a little more.