I always liked that beautiful metal sound that the steel tongue drum produces. It’s so harmonic and peaceful, but yet so powerful. In this article, you will found out more about this special percussion instrument. You’re going to be familiar with the best products on market and their features.
Having this knowledge will help you to understand what do you really need and you’ll be able to choose a steal tongue drum that best fits your needs.
Also, you will learn which product features the most and what are the product’s ‘pros’ and ‘cons’.
Honestly, my first love was handpan drums, but that I wanted to have a steel tongue drum too because it has a similar sound, but it’s much easier to carry around because it’s smaller and they also cost less.
Rakumi Lotus Steel Tongue Drum
As my favorite one, I picked the Rakumi Lotus drum. If you carefully read review number one, you’ll see why this is the best steel tongue drum. To make a long story short you will be able to see that is the best combination of price, quality, and performance.
How to choose a steel tongue drum?
This is a very important question, but yet there is no simple answer to it. First of all, you need to choose a steel tongue drum that fits your very own needs. That means that you need to listen to instruments and decide which drum sounds good to you.
Since they come in different scales and are made from different materials, they sound different from each other.
Maybe my best advice for you is to find videos on Youtube that most manufacturers made and hear how different drums sound. After that, you will be able to find the sound you like the most.
Best steel tongue drum reviews
This article will be your guide while choosing the best steel tongue drum for you. Below are listed some of the best and most popular products on the market.
Everybody interested in drums will be able to find something for themselves. On the list, you’ll find drums for beginners and professionals as well.
Criteria are based on the quality of the sound, what comes in the package, how they look, and, of course, the price. The mission of these reviews is that you’ll be able to buy a good drum without buying a random drum that you won’t know how good it is.
1. Rakumi Lotus Steel Tongue Drum
Rakumi Lotus is 12” and it’s handmade by professional craftsmen. It has a total of 13 sounds in C major. This makes it has a wider range of sounds and can play more music as you need. Works much better than 11-tones-drum does.
Important thing is that the instrument is made of steel and colored with water-based environmentally friendly paint which is pollution-free and does not fade.
This package includes: drum, mallets, a music book in English, a bag, notes sticker, and picks (picks are like rubber rings, specially designed for playing the drums with fingers).
A big plus for this product is 30 days unconditional money back. This guarantees the quality of after-sales service.
2. Moukey steel tongue drum
This drum has silicone feet that provide maximum stability, and the bottom of the drum is well sealed.
There are a total of 11 tones consisting of pentatonic scales, which have a wider range of sound and can play more music. This makes it easier to learn and has a wider range of sounds.
The drum is producing a smoother tone and the volume is a lot louder. Even beginners and children can easily play wonderful music. The drum produces an ethereal sound perfect for calming down emotions.
Moukey steel tongue drum comes in the package which, besides drum, includes: Drumsticks, tone sticker, dedicated carrying bag, carrying bag strap, and a music book.
3. Asmuse 8 Notes 10 Inch Pan Drum
If you want to improve your concentration and memory, physical and mental health this drum is an excellent choice for you no matter are you a professional player or a beginner. It has a beautiful tone when played, so resonant and melodious.
This drum can produce sounds with the eight tones in C major pentatonic scale that can be played by hands, mallets, or fingerpicks.
Asmuse is made of stainless steel dull polish. Every tongue drum is unique and handmade, so if you meet any problem, like out of tone or else the company will send you a replacement unconditionally.
This beautiful instrument weighs 4.88 pounds and its diameter is 9 inches.
Asmuse comes in the package which, besides the drum, includes 1x Pair of Mallets, 1x Mallet Bracket, 1x Tonic Sticker, 1x Nylon Travel Bag.
4. Luvay 11 Notes 10 Inches Tank Drum
This tank drum will simply make you fall in love with music. Its beautiful Sandalwood color will make your living space warm and cozy. This tank drum is hand-made of steel-titanium alloy, coated by green spraying paint, which makes it a unique, highly corrosion-resistant product.
It has a modest and simple design and it’s an ideal instrument for beginners. If you buy it, you will get also a bag, which makes the drum portable. On the other hand, while playing it, silicone feet makes it stable and keeps the drum in one position.
This product is available in 4 sizes: 6 inches, 10 inches, 12 inches, and 22 inches.
5. Flatsons Propane Tank Drum
The drum has a Standard C key and 8 tones and allows you to play some simple songs. When you play it no musical background is needed, just follow your heart to explore, and its ethereal sounds can purify your mind and soul, and makes you achieve inner peace.
This instrument can be played with mallets or you can play just using your hands. However, playing with fingers is not recommended for beginners. It takes some time and practice to produce quality sound with your fingers.
Flatsons propane tank drum is made of high-quality alloy steel material. The surface is painted with a pearl finish, and it has an anti-corrosion layer.
It has a diameter of 5.5 inches and a height of 3 inches. The drum weighs about 1.55 kilograms.
With this propane tank drum, you will also get 2 drum mallets, a drum bag, and a music book.
6. AKLOT Metal Tongue Drum
AKLOT metal tongue drum is the 10 inches drum that features in 11 notes standard major C key with a wider range of sounds, achieving new beginners and professional players to play more different kinds of songs.
The drum adopts titanium alloy as a material. Alloy is more strengthen and it has better corrosion and heat resistance than carbon steel ones.
With AKLOT metal tongue drum you will get full accessories. One package has 1 metal tongue drum, 2 drum mallets, 1 mallet bracket, 6 finger picks, 1 set of note stickers, 1 music book, and 1 travel bag.
Having all in one, you’ll be able to enjoy your drum anytime and anywhere.
7. Lomuty Steel Tongue Percussion Drum
The sounds it produces are captivating and ethereal perfect for relaxation, meditation, and yoga.
The instrument is hand-made of steel-titanium alloy, coated by green spraying paint, corrosion-resistant. This drum is a beautiful lotus-flower tongue in a sandalwood color. It will make your room nice and cozy.
Lomuty Steel Tongue Percussion Drum Package includes a steel drum, mallets, a music book in English, a bag, notes sticker, and picks. In the music book, you’ll be able to found 50 songs in English. That is perfect for beginners, it will make your learning easier.
Like most of the instruments listed here, the Lomuty steel tongue percussion drum has silicone feet that stabilize the drum’s position during playing.
8. Younar Mini Hank Drum
The drum is high quality: each tongue steel drum is carefully hand-built from stainless steel and it has a footpad made of silicone so it’s very stable. Each tongue steel drum is carefully hand-built and artificially tuned, the tone is accurate, and the sound is ethereal.
The diameter of the product is 5.51 inches and its height is 3.15 inches. Besides the drum in the package, you will get 2 drum sticks and a national-style drum bag. Drum sticks are wooden.
You can choose one of these colors for this steel tongue drum: black, gold, white, green, red, blue, orange, and purple.
9. Richday Metal Tongue Drum
Richday drum has a unique lotus flower design and it’s handcrafted from steel-titanium alloy. Also, it is covered with a green coating that protects the drum from corrosion. The drum is very stable because it has three silicone feet.
This great instrument has a total of 8 sounds in D major, which have a wider range of sound and can play more music. When you order this drum, you also get a Richday metal tongue drum, 4 mallets, two-tone stickers, and 1 dedicated carrying bag in the package.
10. Guda Tongue Drum
This special instrument is made of especially hard steel and it’s decorated by hand. Guda tongue drum has a percussive sound with some wooden overtones.
It is 14.7 inches, weighs only 4 pounds and it is very slim. Smaller than a handpan, it offers more portability and sustained resonance.
This drum would probably be more popular if it would be a bit cheaper. But you must admit that it looks really extraordinary, especially if you have in mind that somebody did those beautiful ornamentals manually.
Quick tongue drum history
Tongue drum history is quite rich and interesting. They were an inevitable part of Aztec culture. They have many ways to communicate with God and one of the ways was through music.
Since there were no wire and metal instruments, they used log tongue drums made of hardwood. They usually used a hollowed log to make it and played it with mallets, just like we’re playing it today.
We can find tongue drums in the history of African tribes as well. Their shamans used log drums to make sacred rituals. Even today, many African tribes, or at least those who weren’t impacted by modern civilization, are using tongue drums.
If you ever get a chance to hear it alive, don’t miss it! It’s really amazing to hear the sound they are making with just a piece of wood.
Later on, in modern times, we were introduced to metal drums. Today, we have even electric steel tongue drums which allow us to create various sounds and mix them with modern musical instruments.
Many famous musicians, such as Bob Marley or David Bowie introduced the steel tongue drums in their music and it sounds quite amazing.
How does a steel tongue drum sound?
Do you know what does a steel tongue drum sound like? It has a lot of similarities with a handpan. It has a beautiful melodic sound, it’s perfect for relaxation and it has common use in yoga and meditation therapies.
Please, check the video below to listen to a few examples of how they sound.
Which is the best steel tongue drum for beginners?
If you are a beginner and you’re trying to pick a perfect steel tongue drum for yourself, I guess you’re wondering what’s the best option for you. Well, it’s your decision. The first option is to choose a simpler and more affordable solution and then I recommend you to buy a smaller, 5-8 inch drum with 8 tones.
However, my recommendation is to start with a bigger, 10-inch drum, with 10 or more notes. There are two main reasons for this. The first one is that if you are really willing to learn to play it, it will make you no difference do you have 8 or 11 tones.
The second reason to buy a bigger drum is that if you buy a smaller one, soon or later you’re gonna master it and you will desire to play on a bigger and better one.
Then, your first decision to buy a smaller and more affordable steel tongue drum will not be so cheap. In other words, you’ll have doubled expenses.
Tongue drum price guide
Believe it or not, the tongue drum market is very dynamic. Drums are pretty much simple for production, so many companies have started to produce them lately. That’s the main reason for the steel tongue drum price dropped in the last few years and the drop was significant.
Unlike handpans and steelpan drums, tongue drums are much more affordable and that’s the main reason why people are choosing to buy them before handpan or steelpan drum. If you’re looking for a cheaper option, you can get a brand new steel tongue drum for 60$. It will be a mini drum, but, still, we’re talking about a new product.
On the other hand, the most expensive handpans are approximately around 300$. Probably there will be some even more expensive, but those could be just some exceptions. But, it wasn’t always the case. Just a few years ago it was hard to find a steel tongue drum cheaper than 200$.
Where to buy a steel tongue drum?
If you’re wondering where to buy a steel tongue drum, you can always try to find it in a local music shop. But, up to my experience, there’s a lot of chance that you will not find it. If you want to find it in a local shop, you’ll have to go to some highly specialized shops and those kinds of shops are not so common.
The second option is to contact the manufacturer and buy a tank drum directly from him. It’s a good option if you want to have a specialized, unique steel tongue drum. You can imprint your name or some other specific detail on it. The downside of this type of shopping is that manufacturers have a lot of orders of these kinds and there are long waiting lines.
Personally, I always choose some worldwide known online shop, such as Guitar Center, or Amazon. Amazon is my favorite because they have the biggest selection and when I’m buying on Amazon, I know that I’m 100% safe and their return policy is perfect. One more reason for buying over Amazon is that you can always grab a discount.
Recommended steel tongue drum brands
Like I said earlier, the steel tongue drum market is expanding and there are many respectable manufacturers. But, like in any other business, there are always some players that stand out.
Personally, I would recommend all the brands I mentioned in the list earlier. There are also some other brands that I would like to mention.
Accessories you should consider
The beauty of this instrument is its simplicity. You don’t need a lot of accessories to handle it. One of the main accessories is a pair of mallets. Of course, if you’ve decided to play the drum with it. I would recommend you buy a steel tongue drum bag. It will help you a lot to carry the drum and to protect it.
Some manufacturers are offering a bag together with the drum. However, if you didn’t get the bag in the package, you can always order it for just a few dollars.
Second-hand steel tongue drum: Is it worthy?
If you can’t afford a brand new steel drum, you can always buy a used one. There’s plenty of it available on various online shops such as eBay or some other similar sites. Buying a second-hand steel drum could be tricky, just like with all the other used goods.
If you have an option to meet with the seller in person and check the drum at the site, try it and see are there any damages and scratches, then it’s a good choice to buy a second-hand steel tongue drum.
If you’re buying a second-hand steel tongue drum online, it could be an issue. You can never know how does it sounds, is damaged, or does it fit the description. Usually, you’re buying it from another part of the world, so it’s not easy to return it to the seller.
My recommendation is if you can’t have an option to see the drum in person, to buy a new one online on some online shop like Amazon. It’s not so significantly expensive and you have a money-back guarantee.
Steel tongue drum or handpan?
If you have doubts about whether you should buy a steel tongue drum or a handpan, I will try to help you.
Many people have doubts about it, having in mind that they’re producing a quite similar sound. Both instruments are producing amazing melodies and you will enjoy them.
However, my opinion is that, due to a slight edge, the handpan produces a bit more melodic sound. The downside of a handpan is that it’s much more expensive than a steel tongue drum.
If you can’t decide whether you should buy a steel tongue drum or a handpan, my advice is to buy both, if you can afford them. The steel tongue drum is very affordable and if you’re making that investment, you will make no mistake.
How to play steel tongue drum
If you don’t know how to play steel tongue drums, I’ll tell you there are two ways to play it: with your fingers and with mallets that have rubber tips. The different ways will produce different sounds and it’s up to you and your preferences how you’ll play it.
Mallets are producing louder and more melodic sounds. On the other hand, fingers are faster and will boost your speed. However, it’s not easy to play the drum with fingers. After some time, fingers are starting to hurt you, especially if you are a beginner.
If you prefer to play the drum with fingers, there’s a solution that might help you. You can use picks – rubber attachment for fingertips. Picks will give you a louder and more melodic sound and it will protect your finger from hurting.
Frequently asked questions
I made a list of the most frequently asked questions that might help you. Please, read it and maybe you’ll find some answers for yourself as well.
Q: Can I use mallets to play a steel tongue drum?
A: Of course. Actually, it’s a recommended way of playing the drums. Most of the drums from my list come in a package with mallets. Mallets are producing beautiful melodic sounds and giving maximum joy to playing the steel tongue drum.
Q: Can you play it using just your hands?
A: Yes, you can play it with your hands, but it’s not recommended for beginners. It’s required to have some skills to produce proper, clear, melodic sound with your fingers on a steel tongue drum. It requires hours and hours of practice and it will take a lot of time to stop feeling pain while playing it.
Q: How to tune the steel tongue drum?
A: If you’re not experienced, it’s quite hard to do it and I recommend you not do it on your own. Take it to the professional and he will take care of it. However, there’s a small trick that you can do: you can place a small, strong magnet on the inner side of the tongue. That will change the tone of the tongue. You can shift the tone by moving the magnet towards the edge of the tongue.
Let’s summarize it. I have shown you my top picks for steel tongue drums I’ve tried. You can see how to use them, their features, and their pros and cons. I’m absolutely positive that you can find a product on this list that will make you completely satisfied.
If you choose some of those ten favorites, I’m sure you’ll make no mistake.
I hope this article was helpful to you. Feel free to ask questions. I’m always willing to help you.