Dhol can refer to any one of a number of similar types of double-headed drum widely used, with regional variations, throughout the Indian subcontinent. Its range of distribution in India and Pakistan primarily includes northern areas such as the Assam Valley, Gujarat, Kashmir, Maharashtra, Konkan and Goa, Punjab, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Sindh and Uttar Pradesh.The range stretches westward as far as Afghanistan.
The Punjabi dhol is perhaps best known abroad due to its prominent place in the rhythm of popular Punjabi Bhangra music.
The dhol is a double-sided barrel drum played mostly as an accompanying instrument in regional music forms. In Qawwali music, the term dhol is used to describe a similar, but smaller drum used with the smaller tabla, as a replacement for the left hand tabla drum. The typical sizes of the drum vary slightly from region to region. In Punjab, the dhol remains large and bulky to produce the preferred loud bass. The drum consists of a wooden barrel with animal hide or synthetic skin stretched over its open ends, covering them completely. These skins can be stretched or loosened with a tightening mechanism made up of either interwoven ropes, or nuts and bolts. Tightening or loosening the skins subtly alters the Pitch of the drum sound. The stretched skin on one of the ends is thicker and produces a deep, low frequency (higher bass) sound and the other thinner one produces a higher frequency sound. Dhols with synthetic, or plastic, treble skins are very common.
The introduction of electronic devices such as tape recorders has led to a decline in the importance of dhol players in celebratory events. Nevertheless, dhol music still figures in the studio recordings of present day Raas/Garba and Bhangra music artists. A related instrument is the dholak or dholki.