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In this guide we’ll take a look at the best steel tongue drums for performing enchanting melodies.
I’ve compared performance, build quality, sound quality and cost to give you my top recommendations.
What Is The Best Steel Tongue Drum?
Steel Tongue Drum Reviews
The winner of the best steel tongue drum is the Pearl Awakening Series Steel Tongue Drum that emits pure and mystical tones.
This steel tongue drum is tuned to A in the Japanese Akebono musical scale that sounds truly captivating. I love how this drum sounds, it produces such unique melodies!
The Akebono tuning is perfect for improvising and performing Japanese style music that has an ethereal sound perfect for live performances and recordings.
The build quality of the Pearl Awakening steel tongue drum is great for the price. It is a 10” hardened steel drum with 9 laser-cut tongues that yield precision tuning. It’s also finished in a stunning colour and is resistant to tarnishing and scratches.
- Unique and pure notes
- Attractive finish that is highly resistant
- Precision laser cut steel tongues
- Sound is a little too metallic
- No carry case included
The Meinl Sonic Energy Steel Tongue Drum is a rich, full-sounding musical instrument that produces a captivating sound.
This musical instrument is precision-crafted to deliver beautiful and expressive melodies that make it perfect for solo performances and ensemble use. It’s also perfect for drum circles and spiritual drumming.
Tuned to the key of A minor, this steel tongue drum possesses the notes: E4, D5, C4, A4, A3, G4, D4, C5.
It is perfect for professionals and inexperienced musicians alike, projecting beautiful and mystical melodies with very little effort because of the fixed tuning system.
Also included with the Meinl Sonic Energy steel tongue drum is a padded bag to protect the drum whilst being transported, and a pair of rubber mallets. The drum sounds wonderful when played with either hands or mallets.
- Delivers beautiful and expressive melodies
- High quality craftsmanship
- Great value for money
- Very little negatives
This Handcrafted Steel Tongue Drum is tuned to the D minor scale and the sound is astonishingly beautiful and mystical. This musical instrument is handcrafted by a master craftsman with patented 2mm hardened steel.
This is quite possibly the finest quality steel tongue drum available on the market. It really is an exquisitely crafted instrument with a tuning of D minor: D3, A3, C3, D4, E4, F4, G4, A4, C5
The sound is nothing short of an incredible musical experience. It possesses a meditative, hypnotic and tranquil sound that creates a powerful connection. The patented technology allows this tongue drum to sing up to 7 overtones into each tongue.
RAV steel tongue drums are perfect for musicians of all ability levels, yogis and sound healers. This unique and beautiful handcrafted drum also includes a soft case and a set of handpan mallets.
- Exceptionally handcrafted musical instrument
- 7 Overtones with each tongue
- Hypnotic, meditative and tranquil sound
- Expensive steel tongue drum
The Idiopan Domina Steel Tongue Drum is another excellent steel tongue drum that produces clean and resonant tones from its 8 respective tongues.
This steel tongue drum is different from the others on this list because this one can be tuned using the strong magnets included. It does come pre-tuned to C Major pentatonic scale, but you can tune this yourself and it has tuning capabilities.
The standard C Major Pentatonic tuning is as follows: G3, C4, D4, E4, G4, A4, C5, D5.
Having the ability to be tuned to achieve hundreds of different scales makes this a very impressive musical instrument. It also boasts a beautiful sapphire finish that is durable and resistant to tarnishing. Overall this is a fantastic steel tongue drum that produces warm and smooth sonics.
- Crafted in the USA with American steel
- Unique because it can be tuned with included magnets
- Beautiful warm and clean tones
- Tuning this instrument is very difficult
Last up for review we have an affordable Mini 8 Note Steel Tongue Drum that comes with a carry bag and a pair of mallets. This is a compact 5.5” tongue drum and it’s much smaller than the others on this list.
This is a great tongue drum for children and those looking for a compact sized tongue drum. Because it’s so small it’s perfect for taking on vacation or to the beach!
It sounds calming and peaceful, and it’s tuned to the C Major pentatonic scale: G3, C4, D4, E4, G4, A4, C5, D5.
This is a really good value steel tongue drum that is constructed from a quality steel alloy. It comes in a range of beautiful finishes that are resistant to corrosion.
- Budget friendly!
- Ideal for travelling with
- Perfect for children
- Small size can be difficult to play
- Tuning isn’t precise as more expensive options
Steel Tongue Drum Buyer’s Guide
Steel tongue drums, like djembes, are very popular within drum circles, spiritual healing and yoga meditation. Steel tongue drums are similar to hang drums and they belong to the idiophone family of musical instruments. They produce calming and ethereal sounds and they are very easy to play thanks to the fixed tuning of the tongues.
You do not need years of training or countless hours of practice to create wonderful sounds with a steel tongue drum! This makes them perfect gifts for children to help allow them to explore their creativity.
Steel tongue drums are also very unique with their timbre and resonance. You do not hear an instrument like this very often, and the melodies of a steel tongue drum are always met with surprise and awe.
What To Look For in a Steel Tongue Drum
Steel tongue drums vary in price, size and sound. You can buy an affordable alloy steel tongue drum for relatively little money, or you can purchase a beautiful handcrafted instrument that will cost significantly more.
The sounds of an expensive steel tongue drum will be smoother, more accurately tuned and the quality of the instrument itself will be far better.
As is the case with most musical instruments, you can expect what you pay for. A cheaper musical instrument will compromise on quality and features compared to a top of the range instrument.
But you can certainly achieve a balance with quality mass-produced models such as the Meinl Sonic Energy and Pearl Awakening Series tongue drums; which both deliver beautiful and expressive melodies and are well-made instruments.
What Tuning Shall I Choose?
When buying the best steel tongue drum, you’ll be investing in an instrument that has a fixed tuning range, and will have a selection of notes in a particular key.
This makes them very enjoyable and easy to play, no matter what skill level you possess. But it is also restrictive to what you can play.
My best piece of advice is to listen and explore the sounds of a steel tongue drum, and choose the instrument you like the sound of the most. Listen to the notes in the key and the timbre and resonance of the instrument, and see what’s most appealing to you!
I personally love the steel tongue drum in the key of Celtic D Minor. I think it has a very mystical and melancholic sound that I’m really drawn to. It produces beautiful harmonics and the notes resonate magnificently together.
A steel tongue drum is perfect for solo recitals, recording music, performing live, spiritual drumming, meditative practice and much more. They’re definitely one of my new favourite instruments that produce calming yet captivating sounds.