Claves are percussion instruments most often associated with Cuban and Latin American music. Most claves are cylindrical wooden sticks that measure approximately 8 to 10 inches. They are played by being knocked together, one on top of the other, to create a high-pitched clicking sound providing a concrete rhythm for other instruments to build on.
History of the Claves
The history of the claves began in Africa where many early percussion instruments like the guiro also developed. In the 13th century, the Spanish took slaves from Africa and placed them in the Caribbean to build ships. According to legend, the Spanish discovered by chance that shipbuilding in Cuba would provide far better wood than at home in Spain and it was these wooden ship pegs that the African slaves would play as the early modern claves. Claves would provide the backbone of Cuban music and later even more kinds of latin american rhythm, for example salsa and rumba. Hundreds of common rhythm techniques use claves as the foundation of the percussion section and these instruments are now commonly found on the streets of South America to modern Hollywood recording studios.
Inventor: Unknown

Where to Buy

£15 - £40

Hear the Claves

Audio of the Claves is Coming Soon

How to Play

A percussion instrument consisting of two small wooden sticks that are struck together to create a sharp, percussive sound.

In Popular Music

Claves are a very common percussion instrument around recording studios and as such have been used in hundreds of popular music recordings. Some notable examples of the claves in popular songs include 'No Woman No Cry' by Bob Marley, 'Hotel California' by The Eagles and 'Livin' La Vida Loca' by Ricky Martin

Famous Players

Candido Camero, Tito Puente

Close Relations

Castanets, Woodblock
Video Credit: Shaw Percussion
Understanding the Claves










Instruments of Music

Copyright © 2023 Instruments of Music. All Rights Reserved.