Timbales usually consist of two loud,
single-headed drums mounted side by side.


The sizes vary but are usually 13" on the right and 14" on the left. The larger drum is called "Hembra" (the Female) and the one on the right is "Macho" the Male. A variety of bells and blocks are used but the standard set up is a "Mambo Bell" on the right, a smaller "Cha-Cha Bell" on the left with a wood-block in the middle on which to play "Clave". the Clave is the key to the rhythm in Afro-Cuban music. A Crash or Ride Cymbal is also normal in a standard Timbale set-up.

The person who plays Timbales is refered to as the "Timbalero". The Timbalero is resposible for the high-end bell patterns that interlock with those of the Bongo-Bell. When the music is chill, He will often play on the sides of the drums or "Cascara", meaning shell. The pattern that is played is also called "Cascara".