Information Desk | S&M Activities | For Players | Dance Tutorials | Revealing Items | 4:Bohemians
Salsa & Merengue
Nav Bar

For Players

On Stage
Getting Started
Line-up Types
Percussion: Congas
Rhythm: Piano
Rhythm: Bass
Percussion: Timbales
Melodics: Violin
Percussion: Hand
Rhythm: Guitar / Tres
Percussion: Bongó

Line-up Types
The composition of a Latin line-up is incredibly varied, ranging from the solo artist accompanying himself on the guitar like Eliades Ochoa singing "El Carretero" in the Buena Vista Social Club, to the now-rare mambo big bands similar to those led by "Machito" Frank Grillo and Tito Puente.

When starting up a band, it's a case of doing the best with what you've got, and recruiting to fill in the gaps over the course of time. Although your instrumentation might not be ideal for the music you'd like to play right from the onset, there will always be configuration options available to you. Here are some examples (vocals are not listed):


  • Guitar / Tres
  • Piano


  • Guitar, hand percussion
  • Guitar, bass
  • Piano, percussion


  • Guitar, guitar, hand percussion
  • Guitar, tres, hand percussion
  • Guitar, bass, percussion


  • Piano, bass, conga, timbales
  • Guitar, bass, tres, hand percussion
  • Guitar, bass, bongo, hand percussion


  • Guitar, tres, bongo, claves, bass, maracas
  • Piano, bass, conga, timbales, flute, hand percussion


  • Clave, maracas, trumpet, tres, bass, guitar, bongo
  • Piano, bass, conga, timbales, trumpet, trombone, hand percussion

Charanga bands have line-ups that incorporate flute and violin. For example "4 de Diciembre" comprises piano, bass, conga, timbales, flute, violin, saxophone and guitar.

Esoteric instruments can be integrated into a Latin ensemble, for example the Chinese coronet is now found in the folkloric music of Eastern Cuba. Their placement requires an understanding and matching of both the properties of the instrument, and the roles possible in an ensemble.


1999 Salsa & Merengue Society