Medium Gankogui (African Agogo Bells) Review

Gankogui is a rustic, traditional double bell from the West African region, mainly Ghana and Togo. The name originates from the local phrases of “ga” meaning metal and “ko” meaning phonetic syllable. They have a stacked configuration and far brighter, refreshing and deep tones as compared to Nigerian agogo bells. It originated in the West African tribe of Ewes who used different types of bells and drums as musical instruments- for ceremonies (both happy and tragic) and to alert the whole village.

The bell pattern is the key to the rhythm and the two bells produce the specific sounds of “gang” and “gong”. In traditional Ewe music, it repeats itself without changes throughout the length of the song. It follows a polymetric pattern where the bell repeats 4/4 pattern two times and drum repeats ¾ rhythm four times. They have a unique way of being played- the differently sized metal bells of impact idiophone are hammered with the wooden stick. The instrument is usually held in the left hand and the wooden stick for striking the bells is held in the right hand. It is generally made by a blacksmith using hand bellows and elementary forges.

Table of Contents

Basic Construction

For the overall sipping of package:

  • Length: 12 inches
  • Breadth: 4.5 inches
  • Height: 6 inches
  • Weight: 1.1 pounds

However since each bell is hand forged, the size of the instrument varies. The average size of the instrument is 10 to 11 inches.

  • Smaller bell: 2.75 inches
  • Larger bell: 3.5 inches

Attractive Features

  • Each bell is hand forged and hence each has a unique tone. This is ultimate paradise for musicians. Just imagine- you can play to your heart’s content and no one would ever be able to imitate your tone and music, how cool is that!
  • It produces both open and closed sounds.
  • It can be held very easily due to the light weight. It is generally held in the left hand and played with the right hand.
  • You can easily attach it to a stand if you want to! You can make the stand and hardware up to any length that will suit you.
  • After stroking, you can place the instrument on your thigh to dampen resonance. Just give it a thought, no extra equipment, no extra music- all you have to do for dampening is place it on your thigh. This makes us wonder just how brilliant craftsmen the Ewes were!
  • It provides a temporal orientation to playing orchestra musicians.
  • It produces beautiful double tones, a deep and soothing mid-range sound and even cowbell sounds.

How Does It Fare?

The Medium Gankogui is especially handmade by artisans from Ghana and Togo. It forms a great part of West African heritage as it was used by their ancestors for most occasions. It is durable and will not lose its sheen if taken care of. Since it is made of metal, it has a chance of oxidation and rust, depending on the material and the climate it is used in. But there comes a very easy solution to protect it from the demons of rusting. Use very fine steel wool, of diameter close to 0.0001 millimetres to rub over the bells for a few seconds.

Then wipe it with a soft and smooth cloth. A red tinge may remain at times but that does not affect the tone and rhythm of the instrument in any way. Overall it is a swell instrument and deserves a mention for its unique construction and its quirky sounds. Many musicians from far and wide are now making this seemingly unlikely purchased and most are left with their musical hearts brimming with joy. It has a USP in the mere fact that it has rarely been played in the Western world before and it introduces this part of the world to tones it has never heard before!

Value For Money

To add to your joy, a wooden stick is added to the package along with the double bells! The despatch is made from Ghana by the BT Group and it reaches at your doorstep within one or two days after confirmation of order and that too, free of cost.

Overall this instrument has been quite well received and it is quite heartening to see the Western world welcoming with open arms, something from Africa’s tradition. If you are still in doubt, go check Amazon for the product- they are always low on stock. Plus a huge majority of customers have given it an outstanding score.

Go ahead and hit the “Add to Cart “button and soon your very own Gankogui will be at your doorstep!

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About Ronald Ross

Being a seasoned musician myself, I share experiences that help other musicians on their journeys. Whether it's about musical equipment, streaming services, instruments or promoting music; I try to cover everything at Loud Beats. Learn more about me here.