Best Steel Tongue Drum In 2021
Our Top 9 Choices
Everything you always wanted to know about steel tongue drums is right here!
Buying a steel tongue drum can be a turning point in your life. Seriously, these small instruments can help you fight back against stress, concerns, and negativity. Moreover, you need no musical training to start playing one today.
Yes, I know, I´ve been there too. I typed “Tongue drum Steel” and “Tongue drum for sale” and the results were indeed endless. How can one pick the best steel tongue drum? Well, you don´t have to do the hard work, we´ve done it for you already.
Read on, check our best options and learn everything you need to know about steel tongue drums right here. Are you ready to unleash the true healing and relaxing power of this beautiful instrument?
Get those mallets because here we go!
The best steel tongue drums
Let´s get started with the main course on this meal: the steel tongue drum models we chose for you. We will go from the beginner-oriented ones to the professional-oriented ones and tackle the intermediate on our way there too.
Regardless of how long you´ve been playing, I´m positive you´ll find a tongue drum steel in our rundown that will suit your needs. Don´t go after the first tongue drum for sale you come across, read on and make an informed decision.
Best steel tongue drums for beginners
Beginners usually go for the most complete combos in terms of accessories. This is, largely, because they want to be playing from moment zero and need stuff like steel drum sticks, learning material, and such, to make that happen.
Let´s take a look at the best beginner-oriented steel tongue drums in the market today.
Luvay Steel Tongue Drum
What most beginners want and need is a straight-on, no-frills approach that will allow them to just play out of the box until they outgrow the instrument. This Luvay steel tongue drum is exactly that; it gets the job done with no bells or whistles.
The sound of the drum itself is industry-standard for the price tag. Nevertheless, the package becomes more attractive with the mallets, the beginner guide, the comfortable bag, the stickers, and the fingerpicks. You can start playing right after unwrapping it.
Finally, the corrosion-resistant coating and the steel & titanium alloy make it a lasting, good-sounding product that can potentially give you years of good fun.
|Luvay Steel Tongue Drum - 6 inches 8 Notes - Percussion Instrument - with Pouch, Book, Mallets, Finger Picks||Check Pricing|
What we liked
- Includes all you need to start playing and learning from day one
- Steel-titanium alloy is superbly resistant
- Corrosion-free coating
Not so much
- The glue in the stickers is low quality, they fall off easily
Mowind Steel Tongue Drum
Fitted with a psychedelic bag and a beautiful pearl-like finish, this steel tongue drum is great for children. Moreover, they will be hooked the minute they see you taking it out of its wrapping with such an amazing color palette.
After that initial, positive shock, you can hand them the bag, the mullets, and the book and let them have some fun with the instrument. In case you didn´t know, the early fostering of our children´s musical abilities can lead to a lifetime of musical fun.
Finally, the product is perfectly tuned to C, the lessons are easy to follow, and the overall combo is killer to start playing right out of the box. The only thing I wish it had was fingerpicks. I had to go out and buy them separately.
|Mowind Steel Tongue Drum Tank Drum C Key 8 Notes 5.5 Inch Percussion Instrument with Drum Mallets Carry Bag Purple||Check Pricing|
What we liked
- Great color combination appealing to kids
- Mallets, instruction book, and colorful carrying bag included
- Perfectly tuned to C
Not so much
- No fingerpicks included in the package
“OcarinaWind” 6 inches C Major Steel Tongue Drum
This laser-cut steel tongue drum is a great first instrument for anybody. I would say that it is the lightest one I´ve played in this size and the sound is relaxing, soothing, and great for relaxation, meditation, yoga, and such.
On the good side, the combo features the mallets, fingerpicks, learning material, bag, and stickers. On the not-so-good side of things, the stickers are not placed over the instrument and there are no instructions on what goes where, so you have to go to YouTube for a tutorial.
The finish looks flawless and feels very sturdy. Also, the material the instrument is made of is pure steel, which gives it a touch of extra endurance.
|"OcarinaWind" 6 inches C Major Steel Tongue Drum Black 8 Notes Drum with Couple of Mallets, Beautifully finished and peaceful sound||Check Pricing|
What we liked
- Pure steel construction
- Soothing sounds
- All accessories included
Not so much
- No instructions to glue the stickers
Recap Of Our Top 3 Beginner Steel Tongue Drums
Best steel tongue drums for intermediate players
Once you graduate from your first steel tongue drum (your ears start asking for more), it is time to go to the intermediate models. These offer better, more defined sounds and feature superior construction. On the other hand, they are not so oriented to the beginner player, thus, most of them do not include lessons or songbooks.
Let´s check out those tongue drum steel for the player that wants a little more.
“OcarinaWind” 12 inches Steel Tongue Drum
Let´s begin with the most intermediate of the intermediate. This means that this Ocarina Wind steel tongue drum is the closest to the beginner combo we´ll be covering in this section. Hence, you´ll find that the set includes all you need to learn and start playing from day one.
This is a 12 inches model, and the number of notes ascends to 13 laser-cut, perfectly-tuned tongues. Following the handy songbook, you can be playing your first songs in no time. Furthermore, the inclusion of mallets and fingerpicks in the combo means you can indeed start playing on the spot.
One word of advice for beginners here, the more notes you have on a steel tongue drum, the more you´ll need to practice accuracy. Don´t get disappointed if you can´t nail a song in your first attempt, it takes time. Also, you might feel some tongues don´t sound right; this is also due to the lack of practice in most cases.
|"OcarinaWind" 12 inches Steel Tongue Drum Green 13 Notes,C Major,with Padded Drum Bag and Couple of Mallets, Beautifully Designed and Peaceful Sound||Check Pricing|
What we liked
- The combo includes everything you need to start playing
- 13 laser-cut, perfectly-tuned notes
Not so much
- Stickers glue seems to be low-quality and they tend to fall pretty soon
Pearl Awakening Series Tongue Drum PMTD8GMF
Chances are if you are a musician (not even a drummer), you´ve heard about Pearl before. This company is one of the top five drumming companies in the world without a doubt. Their Awakening Series offers 8 and 9 tongues steel drums tuned to different scales. In this case, it is an eight-note, G Major scale instrument.
The construction is superb and the attention to detail is great. The steel tongue drum sounds and plays better than any of the competition at this price point. Although it doesn´t feature any accessories to learn how to play, it works wonders for those who have already started on that path.
The included gig bag and mallets are professional-grade and the G Major scale will allow you to play music from so many artists it´s impossible to list here. For the intermediate player looking for a serious instrument from a great brand, this is a very serious choice.
What we liked
- Construction is flawless
- Perfectly tuned
- Great sound
Not so much
- No notes indicators
LOKE 15 Notes Steel Tongue Drum
This 15-note, D Major steel tongue drum is among the best-looking in the rundown. With its 14 inches, it is not a small instrument, but the 15 notes will allow you to play anything you can think of.
Although it fits the bill for intermediate players, it also features some great accessories to start playing on the spot. This means, mallets, mallets holder, fingerpicks, a great carrying bag, wiping cloth, and music score.
Made with steel and titanium alloy, the warm-sounding notes resemble a wooden tongue drum. Moreover, the sound retains some of the dryness of the note while vibrating to create beautiful harmonic overtones as if it would be a wooden tongue drum.
If you´ve been playing for a while and want to take your skills a step further, this can be a great companion.
|14 Inch C Key High Carbon Steel Tongue Drum, 15 Notes Handpan Drum W/Hammer, Drumstick Bracket, Rubber Finger Sleeve, Travel Bag for Camping Meditation Yoga||Check Pricing|
What we liked
- Dryness in the tone
- Great carrying bag and accessories combo
- Steel and titanium alloy
Not so much
- Weighing almost 3kg, it is a tad heavy
Best steel tongue drums for professionals
We made it to the final section of the rundown… drum roll please because here we have the best of the best, la crème de la crème in the steel tongue drum world.
Seriously, this is our model selection for those players who want to make a career out of tongue drum steel playing and will not settle for just any tongue drum for sale.
Read on and buy a state-of-the-art instrument that will propel your career forward
Steel Tongue Drum Handpan D Minor
It´s not a UFO, it´s a 20” steel drum! Well, it certainly looks like the kind of vessel you´d see in one of the Men in Black films. Now, jokes apart, this is a great-sounding instrument with solid construction and superb attention to detail. It is a 9-note steel tongue drum tuned to D Minor.
What happens when you have a 22” instrument? You need a stand! Well, the people at the manufacturing company included one in the combo as well as a pair of mallets, and a cleaning cloth. The body to clean is made of nitrogen steel and looks as sturdy as it can be. Furthermore, the company added a plastic cover to the edge in the middle to make it even more comfortable.
Just like other models we´ve been through, the stickers with the numbers are poor quality and tend to fall off very easily which makes it complicated for learning. On the other hand, the stand looks and feels very sturdy as well as the carrying bag. They should be because this baby weighs over 6 kilograms.
If you want a great steel tongue drum that can offer you a ton of possibilities, sounds great, and looks awesome, this might be your best bet.
What we liked
- Nitrogen steel with plastic-protected edge
- Carrying bag and stand included
- Great sound
Not so much
- It´s quite a heavy weighing over 6kg
MCRDAE Steel Drums, Tongue Drum
If we are talking about the looks, there is no beating this steel tongue drum. The psychedelic color will change depending on the angle you see it from, and the inscriptions with the huge OM sign in the middle are a fine touch. This particular steel tongue drum is specially treated so it won´t be affected by regular weather issues or water.
Featuring a diameter of 18 inches, the stand from the previous model is dearly missed. That being said, it weighs nearly half as much (3.7kg). Another big difference is that this is considered a dual instrument since you can use it as a hand pan (banging the in-between the tongues section with your bare hands) as well as a steel tongue drum.
In both scenarios, the sound is great. You´ll find deep, resonant tones that decay with grace making room for harmonic overtones to appear and make the relaxation magic happen. I would say it is ideal for the experienced player who wants a great everyday instrument that looks and sounds great.
What we liked
- Beautiful-looking instrument
- Gigbag included
- A dual instrument, you can use it as a hand pan too
Not so much
- A stand would have been a nice addition
MCRDAE 12 Inches Steel Tongue Drum
Hand-painted by internationally-acclaimed decoration artists, this series of steel tongue drums by MCRDAE is as much a musical instrument as it is a beautiful ornament for your home. Also, the protective lacquer applied to it guards the design, and the color from any tarnishes, scratches, scuffs, or any other unfortunate event.
Moving over to the sound department, the thick, high-quality steel that is made of sounds killer and rings for the longest time. This is to say that the harmonic overtones will soothe your senses with that true relaxing, Buddha-like sound palette we all love so much.
Finally, the combo is finished with a music score, a carrying bag (straps on it would have been great), and a pair of mallets. Let me tell you that this steel tongue drum sounds so good you can even go for it with your bare hands and achieve amazing results.
If you are looking for a great-looking, superb-sounding, small steel tongue drum, and can afford this model, it will flood your life of musical happiness for time to come.
What we liked
- Amazing looks
- Superb sound
- Lacquer finish to avoid scuffs, rust, and tarnishes
Not so much
- The carrying bag should have straps
Recap Of Our Top 3 Professional Steel Tongue Drums
What are steel tongue drums?
We have been speaking about the best steel tongue drums in the market but didn´t take the time to define them. Thus, it is about time we hit the brakes and start talking about what they are and where they come from.
To begin with, the steel tongue drums belong to the idiophone family. Idiophones, in case you are not familiar with them, produce sound with the vibration of the instrument itself. In this case, by hitting each of the tongues built in the instrument, you get each of the sounds it is capable of producing. In other words, the entire body of the steel tongue drum vibrates to create the sound.
How to play different notes? Well, in the case of steel tongue drums, the “tongues” are cut directly over the body of the instrument. Because of the differences in their length, they create different notes. Usually, steel tongue drums are tuned to the notes of a pentatonic scale. That being said, they can be tuned to any scale and feature seven to thirteen tongues in different sizes.
Finally, it is also possible to create chords by playing several tongues at the same time. For example, you can create a C chord hitting C+E+G at the same time.
Who is Dennis Havlena?
Let´s do a little history and go back to 2007. That was the year in which this man, modern luthier, and inventor, Dennis Havlena, created the first steel tongue drum out of an empty propane tank. He named his instrument “Hank drum”. Here´s a cool video of the original Hank Drum being played by Dennis.
Though it was the works of a mastermind working with an old propane tank that gave birth to the steel tongue drum, he drew inspiration from previous inventions. These were the Whale Drum, created by Jim Doble in 1990, and the Tambiro, created by Felle Vega.
Today, a decade and a half after the first Hank Drum, Dennis Havlena´s design inspired many brands to manufacture steel tongue drums at a large scale and in different sizes.
Although they began as a single-man experiment, steel tongue drums became very popular especially among those who practice yoga, meditation, and such. This is because by hitting it with either the bare hands or mallets (steel drum sticks) they produce soothing, calming sounds that are ideal for relaxing.
How do steel tongue drums sound?
The sound of steel tongue drums is very soothing, pleasant to the ears. Furthermore, anyone can just grab a steel tongue drum for the first time, with no previous musical knowledge, and get some great sounds out of it. How so? Well, the answer is very simple: there are no wrong notes.
Let me explain what I mean by “wrong notes”. In music, what our brain detects as soothing and harmonically pleasant are musical intervals. These intervals between notes define a scale. Since each tongue is tuned specifically to match the notes on a scale, there are no chances of hitting a wrong note. Thus, what you get is a beautiful harmony regardless of what notes you play.
In other instruments such as guitar, piano, etc.… you can play any note, whether it belongs to the scale or not. This way, if you don´t know what notes make a scale, you might end up playing a non-harmonic interval which will sound odd to the listener and probably take him or her out of the momentum.
Steel tongue drum, a brief buyer´s guide
Let´s talk about what to look for when you go shopping for a new steel tongue drum.
Let´s talk scales
Every steel tongue drum is tuned to a different scale. Scales, as a rule of thumb, are capable of translating feelings into sounds. For example, a minor scale will always sound a tad sad to the listener. This is because our brain associates the intervals found in the scale with a sad feeling.
On the other hand, major scales carry with them a sense of fulfillment and work great in choruses and happy melodies. Perhaps, the best, most usable choice would be getting a pentatonic steel tongue drum since it is a scale that will allow you to play over anything.
Let´s talk sizes
As in many other musical instruments (most we would say), size does matter. Besides producing deeper, bass-oriented notes, bigger steel tongue drums also offer a wider variety of notes in the different tongues, which allows for a wider variety of sounds at hand to create melodies.
Beginners should start small, but if you are a well-versed musician, getting a bigger one can turn out to be a game-changer.
Let´s talk budget
Every time you talk about budget and musical instruments, the conclusion is similar: the more you invest, the better the instrument. This idea continues in steel tongue drum land but with an added plus: size changes prices.
For example, getting a 22” steel tongue drum for beginners might cost you the same as a pro-level smaller one. Invest wisely and start small, your ears will catch up and ask for more with time, don´t rush it.
Let´s talk amplification
A rule for the modern musician is that if you are going to play out, you have to plug in. Steel tongue drums are no stranger to this rule, and some models feature an amplification system that plugs into an amp.
This decision is fairly simple to make: what are you going to use your steel tongue drums for? If it´s 100% playing by yourself or in the studio, then there´s no need to get an electro-acoustic one. On the other hand, if you are planning gigs, the pickup is a must.
Steel tongue drum FAQs
There are always some loose ends when you read an article like this, right? Well, we are always going the extra mile for you and this shall be no exception. Read on and clear any remaining doubts.
How do you use a steel tongue drum?
Steel tongue drums can be executed either with the palms of your hands or with mallets (steel tongue drums sticks). Smaller models can be played while sitting on your lap, on larger models, you might need a stand.
Which is the best tongue drum?
The best steel tongue drum is always the one that better suits your needs and budget. For example, you might have a larger-than-life 22” steel tongue drum tuned to a major scale and make larger-than-life happy music. On the other hand, you can have a 9” steel tongue drum tuned to a minor scale and play little sad tunes.
The best tongue drum is always the one that fits your needs the best.
What are the notes on a steel tongue drum?
Notes on a steel tongue drum are always tuned to a scale. Thus, the notes you play (regardless of how many the instrument features) will always fall within the scale. Usually, the manufacturer explicitly shows the scale each steel tongue drum is tuned to.
What is the difference between a tongue drum and a hang drum?
Also known as hand pans, hang drums do not feature tongues. They are usually larger in size and create a fast, percussive sound that is great for accompanying a mellow melody. On the other hand, steel tongue drums create a sound that is more meditative and resonates for much longer.
In summary, hand pans are more percussive and steel tongue drums are more melodic.
Steel tongue drums have seen a meteoric ascent to the mainstream. Indeed, major drumming companies like Pearl echoed this and began manufacturing them on a large scale. This comes as no surprise, since steel tongue drums are easy to play, sound amazing, and require no previous musical knowledge to get started.
We just went through a rundown of the best in the market. Our selection divided by budget and player ability surely features at least one model that can suit your needs as a player. You can confidently purchase any of the items on our list and enjoy years of musical fun.
Make a wise choice, buy the steel tongue drum in the list that resonates the more with you and play your favorite tunes, relax, meditate, and have fun with it. After all, what are musical instruments for if it is not making our lives better? Get your steel tongue drum today and let it lighten up your days.