Best Steel Tongue Drum – 2021 Update

Steel tongue drums can be an excellent place to start if you have yet to explore the musical aspects of drumming. Possibly you’ve heard one in a drum circle or even in a bigger ensemble. 

If you have no idea what this drum is about, and you are a total newbie in the drum world, don’t worry! Steel tongue drums are easy to learn with a beautiful sound, making this instrument suitable for everyone!

You don’t have to have any experience in your background or years of training to play this instrument. And, what’s maybe the best thing of all, you won’t be needing the fortune to be able to afford it!

One should know that steel tongue drums are NOT electronic instruments; however, they offer various sounds. 

They are perfect for beginners of all ages, good for yoga relaxation, and even mind healing!

Such an instrument deserves some attention. That’s why we decided to dive deeply and do fundamental research on steel drums. 

We have made three different categories with three top picks and a thorough explanation of its pros, cons, and specs. Enjoy!

Bang for Buck

7.5

ThatScore

Best overall

7.4

ThatScore

Most Affordable

7.3

ThatScore

These drums are great for kids because they are designed for different uses and methods. 

It delivers beautiful sounds and helps children to develop their musical abilities. 

It can keep kids interested for quite some time because it is very easy to play!

Pros:

  • Handy nylon travel bag
  • A pair of mallets
  • Beautiful sounding
  • Affordable

Cons:

  • Not the best build quality
  • Plastic mallets

Overview:

Inscape Data 8 Notes 6-inch C-Key Handpan Steel Drum comes in four colors to match any style, especially for kids. 

This melodious steel tongue drum comes with three different octaves and 432Hz. As a result, it has a very consistent timbre and an ideal ethereal and melodious sound. This can be very helpful for children to make them relax, less nervous, and even relieve anxiety. 

This steel tongue drum has a total of 8 tones composed of pentatonic scales, giving it a richer sound and allowing it to play a wider range of music. 

As mentioned before, this drum is perfect for kids exploring their hearing talents, maybe even discovering their potential for a future professional drummer, or even for simple playing and having fun. 

It is designed so that a child and any beginner of all ages can easily play and master this instrument.

This steel tongue drum has a very clean sound that resonates beautifully

When playing, you will get a soft and melodious tone. It represents a quality drum that is easily played with mallets. Your child can learn to play simple melodies even if it’s a total beginner.

It is a percussion instrument that can be used for various purposes, including a child’s first notes, music education, performances, and even religious activities.

Pros:

  • Comes in 14 different colors
  • Music book In English included
  • It’s easy to tune
  • Hand-made

Cons:

  • Pricey
  • The stickers make it look cheap

Overview:

Lomuty is a very popular brand known for its tank drums. Their 11-note 12 inches steel tongue drum is pre-tuned to Mixed C Major. 

What’s so great about their instruments, including this one, is that they are all hand-made with steel-titanium alloy. 

You will get a total of 11 tones based on pentatonic scales, thereby creating a wider range of sounds enabling you to play more music. Thanks to this, your child won’t need any musical background to play; just let the kid explore the drumming world on its own. 

Besides the music book in the package, you will also receive a pair of mallets, picks, a carrying bag, and a notes sticker. 

Coming in 14 different colors, which are corrosion-resistant, this steel drum is suitable for a wide range of uses, especially for the youngest ones, who are just discovering their musical side. 

The great thing about the Lomuty steel tongue drums is that you will get a 30 day money-back guarantee.

Pretty much everything your child needs to start its first drumming experience.  

Pros:

  • Steel alloy of high quality
  • Very light – great for carrying around
  • Package includes everything 

Cons:

  • The numbers may fade off
  • A bit of a muffled sound

Overview:

This steel tongue drum consists of high-quality alloy steel and a smooth, anti-corrosion, and exquisite surface

A unique and beautiful design at the bottom of the drum enables it to produce a clean and ethereal sound. 

Musfunny steel drum has 8 tongues, and a standard C key with a range of sounds played in many ways. This means that besides the mallets included, kids can play it easily with their fingers which is amazing for the little ones who have just met with this instrument. 

However, don’t expect an incredible sound when the kids use their hands because the sound under the mallets is purer, ethereal, and more penetrating

The timbre is loud and clear but at the same time shorter and deeper, which is great for a variety of music and suitable for little ones exploring their first sounds. 

When purchasing this set, you will get a 6-inch steel tongue drum, a music book, a pair of mallet holders and its bag, a travel bag, a wiping cloth, and a shoulder strap. 

Plus it’s very portable because of its size and a travel bag. 

As we already mentioned, it is perfectly suitable for youngsters. However, it can be used for other purposes as well. For instance, you can use this steel tongue drum for musical education, meditation entertainment, yoga classes, and even percussion concerts.

Drums produce a pure, soothing sound which is great for relieving stress and bringing relaxation and peacefulness. This can be very soothing for kids, friends, family members, and any music lover.

Best Beginner Steel Drum

Best Overall

8.6

ThatScore

Most Affordable

8.5

ThatScore

Bang for Buck

8.4

ThatScore

The name of this steel drum is quite interesting since it was named after the “Jumbie” – a mystical spirit of Trinidad. 

Today, this instrument is an easy introduction to the drumming world, featuring a big-hitting surface and all the notes labeled on the drumhead.

Pros:

  • Designed and made with quality
  • Budget-friendly
  • Songbook included
  • Easily transportable and compact

Cons:

  • Notes reserved for advanced players
  • Not such a rich sound

Specs:

Panyard Jumbie Jam is a steel tongue drum made in the USA. Crafted with high-quality steel, the instrument delivers a consistent and clear sound

However, there are stamens that this steel drum belongs on the mellower side

Moreover, that’s not relevant for a beginner just starting his first drumming experience. Overall the notes are well-tuned and clean with the recognizable mellow island sound.

If you are playing in a large area, you’ll need something that rings louder, but it’ll work just fine if you are playing in a smaller area. 

The Panyard Jumbie is quite compact and lightweight, so it’s great if you travel often or need to be stored. 

When buying this instrument, you will get a steel pan drum, a pair of mallets, a playing guide, a travel bag, and a table-top stand. The drum goes really well with other instruments and is great for beginners of all ages. 

This means that even if you don’t read the notes, that won’t be a problem. 

Thanks to the note letters labeled on the drum, you can easily read the notes from your songbook.

Yinama is a less-known manufacturer that makes great-sounding steel drums

They produce mainly musical accessories and tech; however, their Yinama Steel Tongue Drum can be a great alternative, and you will see why. 

Pros: 

  • Hand-made 
  • Excellent instrument for students
  • It has an extremely rich sound
  • An assortment of accessories 

Cons:

  • Pretty big
  • Not so light-weight

Overview:

Yinama steel tongue drum is handcrafted with a steel-titanium alloy in six different colors. There is excellent resonance vibration in all notes, and each note has been tuned. 

The maximum possible variations are thus minimized, so you will get a pretty good sound

It includes a Yinama Steel Tongue Drum Instrument, music book, two sets of note stickers, travel bag and a holder strap, finger rubber tapers, two pairs of drum mallets, and a carrying bag. 

These steel drums have been very popular among beginners for quite some time, and teachers really prefer them when giving music lessons.

It possesses silicone feet designed to stabilize the position of the drum when playing. In addition, the whole drum is coated with a protective lacquer finish to guard against tarnishing, scratches, and scuffs. 

Great for students of all ages, music lessons, yoga classes, meditation, and camping. 

Yinama has a total of eleven tongues, tuned to D major, and it comes in two sizes: 10 and 12 inches. It is quite portable, and it has such a nice design that reminds me of a lotus flower. 

It can be a great gift for those just starting their journey into a drumming world!

Steel tongue drums are all about those pure and soothing sounds with melodic tones. 

A certain kind of magic is created when this instrument is played, and when it comes to the Richday mini steel tongue drum, it fulfills our expectations. In addition, it delivers deep sounds, which is one of the reasons why it’s in the top three steel tongue drums for beginners. 

Pros:

  • Budget-friendly
  • Played steadily
  • Well-designed and durable
  • Easy to use

Cons:

  • Sometimes notes may sound off
  • No finger picks in the package
  • Not a traditional steel pan drum
  • The music book is not in English

Overview:

Richardy tongue drum is classified as a mini drum; however, we can say it’s a normal size!

This handmade drum is constructed from steel-titanium alloy and has tongues that are laser cut. It also has a layer of lacquer to prevent corrosion, scuffs, and scratches.

The tongue drum can be played with a pair of mallets or with fingers, which will result in pure, soothing notes. Its three rubber feet create sound isolation for an unrestricted tone. Even though it is clearly a beginner drum, it has deep notes easily played.

Due to those silicone feet, the drum is pretty grounded and stable, which also helps with consistency, and as already mentioned, sound isolation. 

Richardy mini tongue has eight sounds tuned in D major, allowing it to play a broader range of music. 

The package includes a Richday metal tongue drum, carrying bag, four mallets, and two-tone stickers. 

Best Professional Steel Drum

Pro level

9.7

ThatScore

Bang for Buck

9.7

ThatScore

Best Overall

9.6

ThatScore

Most Affordable

9.5

ThatScore

The Zenko Akebono is also known as a “tank” or “hank” drum, manufactured by Metal Sounds in France. 

It is affordable yet a bit expensive in comparison to the previous ones. You have to bear in mind that this drum is meant more for professional players, but thanks to its pentatonic scale, beginners can experiment with it as well. 

Pros:

  • Suitable for travelling
  • Rich sound in overtones
  • Beautiful design

Cons:

  • Not so affordable for everyone

Overview:

Made with high-quality stainless steel, this tongue drum has stunning finishes and an incredible sound. 

The Zenko is an intuitive instrument, a versatile melodic percussion, very easy to play.

Metal Sounds have been collaborating with metal industry experts on long research resulting from this Zenko steel tongue drum. The most stunning thing about this is that they have included and studied every little thing, from raw materials assembling to the final touches. 

That’s why it delivers smooth-like and soft wave sounding. Thanks to its good tuning and harmonic content, the drum is also very reliable. Depending on playing with hands or sticks, different sounds will be produced.

The drum has a Japanese C-Pentatonic Scale (five notes repeated), delivering a unique sounding. With a G3 in the center, the bass will produce a deep sound while serving you as a pivot.

Thanks to its collapsible and adjustable stand, the Zenko Akebono can be played in both sitting and standing positions. Besides that, the package also has a Zensko tongue drum, a deluxe bag, a pair of mallets, and a support ring. 

In recent years, the world has been captivated by instruments such as the hang drum and handpan. Buskers and percussionists love these instruments so much that finding a hang drum is extremely hard and a bit expensive. 

However, there are the ones that will fit into your budget and at the same time deliver a smooth sound. 

The Pearl Awakening tongue drums are durable steel instruments with several different keys. 

The drums are available in various finishes, with rubber feet isolating them sonically. Let’s check!

Pros:

  • Six different scales to pick from
  • Very durable
  • A lot of colors to choose from

Cons:

  • A bit small in size for the price
  • A bit pricey 
  • New on the market

Overview:

The Pearl Awakening comes in six different scale models: G major, C major, A minor, C Lydian, A Akebono, and C Akebono. 

The Akebono scale, as mentioned in our previous pick – Zenko, is a traditional Japanese scale without a tonic or root note. And our pick is the Pearl Awakening Tuned to G Major.

The drum is made with hardened steel, while each tongue is laser cut to provide precise and consistent tuning. 

To get the best sounding, use the pair of mallets provided in the package, or if you like, you can even play with your hand as well. If you prefer, you can purchase the tongue drum bag separately.

Tuned to Bono Scale, this 10-inch steel tongue drum creates soothing tones. In addition, it has great sound and durability. 

Thanks to the rubber feet, the drum is isolated from the decay, and the feet guard protects the drum from scratches and dings. Awakenings Series is a set of pure and soothing sounds that will help you tune into your surroundings.

Meinl Sonic Energy has a collection of high-quality instruments tuned to certain frequencies. Especially their tongue drums are used for therapies, massages, music lessons, and many other purposes. 

The greatest thing about these Meinl Percussion Sonic tongue drums is that they can inspire drumming experts and beginners alike. You can escape the stress of modern society by getting lost in the sound. 

Pros:

  • Great for both experts and beginners
  • Durable and performance-oriented 
  • Reliable brand 

Cons:

  • Not so many colors and designs 
  • Not so budget-friendly 
  • Tuning cannot be adjusted

Specs:

The drum frame is made of precision-crafted steel with a black powder coating. It is 12-inch in diameter and has a long-lasting tuning system.

The Meinl percussion tongue drum scale has A minor scale, and it can be played with either hands or mallets. 

When played, the sound creates expressive melodies. In addition, its durable black finish offers a precision steel frame durable enough to withstand countless hours of drumming and performance. 

It also has a fixed tuning system (A minor) which means that the ensemble will never stray from the key during the performance. Or, in other words, thanks to fixed tuning, there is no note hunting!

The padded bag is also included if you plan on traveling, so it’s very convenient for storage options. The drum is designed to produce beautiful, rich, and full sounds with a durable steel frame and coated finish. 

Despite their great versatility, these drums are equally at home in solo performances and ensemble settings.

Idiopan Domina steel tongue drum has advanced features, which is why it’s not so suitable for beginners or even intermediate players. 

If you want to try out different sounds and experiment with your musical instrument, then Idiopan Domina is the one; however, if you are still a beginner, try the ones we mentioned above.

The steel tongue drum is a great choice for the experimental player and experts because of the option of changing tone via simple adjustments. 

This steel tongue drum comes with many variables, making it a great option for those who want complete control.

Pros

  • Easy tuned
  • Comes in different sizes
  • Deliver a rich and great sound

Cons:

  •  It might be overwhelming for beginners

Overview:

Idiopan Domina is 12-inch in diameter and has a total of 8-note steel tongues that are pre-tuned to the C Major pentatonic scale. 

The Domina features a female version of the Opus series, warm, clear sounds that can be adjusted in three different octaves and 432Hz. You can choose from different colors and sizes, including acoustic models and models with installed pickups.

The package has a 12-inch Domina tongue drum, a pair of medium-density black mallets, a display ring, an installed set of standard magnets, and a microfiber cleaning cloth. 

Magnets are not toys; they are used to tune your drum! 

They are extremely strong and should be handled carefully. So, be cautious when you use them, don’t let them hit your drum or even slam into each other.

Summary

This unique instrument is very interesting and quite easy to play. Whether you are a beginner or a pro player, there is a list of the top three best steel tongue drums in 2021 for each category. 

A steel tongue drum has certain characteristics that set this instrument apart from others, so you should be careful when you decide to buy your first one. 

Especially now, when the marketplace is fulfilled with new brands. Although we’re not saying that the new ones are bad, it’s just that there is a lot of competition in the market so try to choose wisely.

The small in size and in-note ranges are ideal for children and beginners just starting their drumming journey. This is mainly because they are easy to learn and manage and are pretty portable. 

The majority of small drums can be played with both mallets and hands, and their tunings are familiar, so they can be easily recognized.

If you are a professional player or want to experiment a little bit, look for a bigger and tunable steel tongue drum. These ones are much richer in tone, which is more suited for intermediate and advanced players. 

Drum That is here to guide you through every step of the steel drum buying process and make your choice easier. Whether you are a beginner, a pro, or shopping for your kid, the most important thing is to make sure that you or your child feels relaxed and fun when playing these drums.

 

Denis Loncaric

Denis Loncaric

My name is Denis. I am a drummer, percussionist, music enthusiast, and blogger. Drums have been my passion for 15 years now. My idea is to write about the things I like and I am interested in. I want to share my drum passion with fellow musicians who walk, talk, and breathe drums.

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