The zabumba is commonly known as the bumbo or bombo. It is a drum made out of wooden or metal slats held in place by alternating fixtures, and it is shaped like a medium to large cylindrical canister. This wooden cylinder has leather or synthetic drumheads, and is known for its characteristically low sound.
Both heads of the zabumba are played at the same time; the top head is played with long mallets, and the bottom head is played with a thin piece of bamboo, or a plastic baton called a bacalhau. This combination creates two different tones, offering a characteristic sound and rhythm for musical genres from the northeastern regions of Brazil, mainly baião, xaxado, xote, coco and bumba-meu-boi.
Unlike other percussion instruments, such as the surdo or bumbo, among others, the zabumba also has a muff on the top head, called an abafador, which serves to remove excess harmonics produced by the vibration of the skin.