Reading this page means you have rejoiced listening to a Caribbean tune on a steelpan drum and now are thinking to buy the drum kit as soon as possible. Well, this is obvious for instrument players and musical composers. However, the truth is that most beginners are unaware of what to choose and how to choose. In fact, most of them do not know what exactly a steel tongue drum is. This is why this guide is dedicated to inform them about what are steelpan drums and which ones are the best for beginners.

Overview of Steel Drums/Steelpan Drums

Steel drums are musical instruments originated during the 1930s in the Caribbean island republic of Trinidad and Tobago. They are percussion instruments (shaken or struck instruments) that are made from oil drums and are available in different musical ranges. When played together, they are termed as a steelpan drum band and those who play are termed pannists. The tongue drums are also in use for jazz performances due to their tunability.

Steel pans or steel tongue drums for sale feature a bright sound that freshens up the tropical sights. Pans were the outcome of the discovery that the banged part of a metal barrel head can generate a unique musical tone. The layout and pattern were improved when players hammered metallic parts for forming diverse tunings and scales. Finally, this led to orchestrated bands, which now participate in big musical competitions during the Caribbean carnival.

Smaller models are set up to particular keys like C or G and are tweaked to pentatonic or diatonic scales. The big chromatic pans come with a complete range of notes.

Overview of Tongue Drums

A tongue drum is the newest type of steelpan drum family. Its rich, long tone tend to accompany the brighter tones. It is for those who intend to make their custom soothing sounds for professional or fun purpose. This kind of drum sits between a conventional Caribbean drum and a wooden tongue drum.

Just as a steel pan, it is useful for playing a melody but is cheaper than former. Its sound is comparable to NBC chimes or a Wurlitzer. A tongue drum delivers a softer output than a conventional one, as it delivers at 85 decibels instead of 95 decibels like the latter. The note layouts are as per those of the steel drum ensemble. However, different members of this family come with different pitch ranges.

Tongue drums are useful for playing bass lines, chord progressions, and melodies. Mostly, it is easy to play a steel drum on your lap with mallets or hands.

Factors to Consider while Buying Steel Drums on Sale

Following are the most important factors to consider while buying a steelpan drum:

  • Play and Sound: Tongue models are just hard to beat here. This is evident when you experience playing one of them. They come with a stylish look as compared to their hand pan models. Nevertheless, you need to be aware of the tongue drum sound. While it is cheaper than a hand pan despite having same playing and structural features, it differs in terms of what sound it delivers. So, do keep an eye on that! Most have a resonating and sound spectrum with distinct beats and a spring sound when used with fingers. It can even create a more conventional vibrating sound as well as sound frequencies.
  • Rust Resistance: As many steel drums are made using tank drums, they are likely to be vulnerable to rust. Nevertheless, the makers have come up with a solution of rust-free designs and color varnish. Still, it is wise to keep the drums far from hot, damp, and wet regions to retain its look as well as sound quality.
  • Stand: A good stand is what makes a steel drum truly good. Nobody will say this, but it is a fact. A cheaper model is likely to come with a poor stand of plastic. Thus, it is wise to consider a steel stand if you seriously intend to play steelpan drums. However, you need to know that each type of drum and playing style shall have a somewhat different stand. At the same time, it is vital to have a quality stand for having an easier playing time. While being strong, the stand you choose should be light in weight so that it is easy to transport it. A collapsing ability would just make it easier to move the stand.
  • Mallets: Mallets for drums are a somewhat different than the standard ones. While all mallets including those for steel drums have a wooden base, the heads of mallets for steel drums are enclosed in rubber or leather for preventing damage to the drum. For bass models, the mallets differ with a thicker rubber head so that you can get deeper notes. Because even the top quality mallets are cheap, it is ideal to buy such percussion mallets. It is recommended not to rely on the ones that come with the drum, as they may not be of good quality.
  • Cost: Steel drums are not that cheaper but the tongue ones are. Sites such as Craigslist and eBay offer both new and used ones at good prices.