The bombo criollo, or simply bombo, is a family of Latin American drums derived from the European bass drum (also called in Spanish bombo) and native Latin American drum traditions. These drums are of smaller dimensions than the orchestral bass drum, and their frame can be made of wood or steel. They can be held vertically or diagonally on the body or a stand. The specific make of the instrument depends on the regional tradition. In Argentina, the bombo criollo is called bombo legüero. In Cuba, it is known as bombo de comparsa due to its use in comparsas. In other countries, the term tambora is commonly used.
The bombo de comparsa is the lowest drum used in conga santiaguera, the music of the street carnivals from Santiago de Cuba. They are tuneable, two-headed military drums introduced in the island by the Spanish settlers.
In tumba francesa and tahona, two styles imported into Oriente by Afro-Haitian slaves after the Haitian Revolution, the bass drum (slightly smaller than the bombo) is called tambora, tamborita or tambuché.
In some Latin American countries the term tambora is used to refer to bombos criollos. Nonetheless, tamboras are generally wider than other bombos criollos, possibly being an adaptation of both European bass drums (bombos) and side drums (redoblantes).
Mexican tamboras have a diameter of 20 to 26 inches. There are two types of tambora in Mexican music: a traditional, with no cymbals, used in the folk ensembles tamborileros del norte, violín y tambora and jaraberos, and the one used en Mexican brass bands, as in banda sinaloense and tamborazo zacatecano, which has a cymbal over the frame and a stand for the drum. A felt mallet is used to beat the drum.
The Venezuelan tambora is played in gaita zuliana. It is a one-headed drum played with sticks. The player can sit on it or put it between his or her legs to perform rhythms on the instrument, strucking the head, the rim or the body of the drum.