The term dagu (Chinese bass drum) is generic for two models of drums in the orchestra. One, shaped like a flowerpot (known as huapenggu), and the other, with a broad base (known as datanggu or ganggu). The datanggu resonates with a lower pitch than a huapenggu, and produces sounds that are thicker, but less bright than the huapenggu. Both drums are commonly used in the Chinese orchestra.

A variation of the Chinese bass drum is the xiaogu (small drum). Also known as zhangu or xiaotanggu, this drum is a smaller version of the datanggu. The sounds produced by this drum are solid yet elastic. Also used in the Chinese orchestras is the paigu which is a set of tuned drums and can consist of four to seven drums.

The bangu leads the tempo in Chinese opera orchestras. It makes a short and sharp sound, and is usually heard in long rolls of loud and soft passages.

The Chinese drums are predominantly hit with wooden drumsticks.