There are two primary playing styles for dununs. The traditional style has each player using a single drum resting on its side, either on the floor or on a stand, and striking the head with one mallot and a bell mounted on top with the other. A melody is created across the interplay of the three dununs. For the other style, known as ballet style as it is used in the National Ballets, one player has command of the three dununs standing on the floor, allowing a more complex arrangement for the dance.
In some regions of Guinea the dunun is played with no bells, or only two dunun are played. In some regions of Mali up to five dunduns are played at the same time. In Hamanah, (Guinea) three dununs with bells are played. This style is one of the most known in the west, due to the influence of Mamady Keita, Mohamed Diaby, Bolokada Conde, and other players from Guinea. It is formed of three dununs of different sizes; the kenkeni (smallest), sangban (medium) and dununba (largest). The kenkeni has the highest pitch and usually holds the rhythm together with a simple pattern. The sangban typically has a more complex part which defines the rhythm. The dununba often serves to add depth with deep, widely spaced notes. These drums provide a rhythmic and melodic base for the djembe ensemble.
In Bamako, Mali, a style of playing with two dunduns developed. Both so called konkoni, have goat skin and are played without the bell. The konkoni with the highiest pitch keeps the accompaining rhythm and the konkoni with the lowest pitch keeps the lead melody and solos.
In the Khasonke, region of Mali, the biggest of the dunduns has the leading role - making solos and leading the song.