Tongue drums are sorely underrated and aren’t particularly common, yet they have recently gained popularity. It’s a shame, as tongue drums feature a unique sound, unlike any other instrument. They are simple to play, even if you don’t have a musical education.
If you want to own this fascinating percussion piece but don’t know which one to choose, we are here to help.
In this guide, we will review the 7 best steel tongue drums – affordable and beginner-friendly.
Read on to find out the pros and cons of different tongue drum models, the main distinctions between them, and get tips on how to choose the perfect instrument based on your needs.
Best Steel Tongue Drum Reviews
Asmuse Steel Tongue Drum
The first tongue drum in our selection is from Asmuse. The company seems to have found the perfect value balance, creating products that are both of high quality and reasonably priced.
The cost of the Asmuse tongue drum is well below average, even among affordable versions. However, before deciding, let’s look at this drum’s features to complete the picture.
The Asmuse tongue drum is an excellent choice for beginners – simplicity could be its second name. You get everything you need, but nothing more than that.
Every detail in this tongue drum is of satisfactory quality but doesn’t have the “wow-effect.” The size and weight of this drum are average, and so is the quality of the accessories.
Of course, Asmuse did a great job including the accessories in the first place. The good and, perhaps, the most important thing is that the sound is exceptional in pieces that have been assembled without fault. Playing this instrument is very straightforward, as it only has 8 tongues set in C major.
The Asmuse tongue drum is made by hand; therefore, every instrument turns out slightly different, which guarantees a unique sound. The percussion piece’s diameter is 10 inches, and the weight is about 2kg – an average size that most people will find convenient.
It is compact enough to be carried around and is easy to store. The drum is made of stainless steel covered with electroplating and dark-brown spray paint. This ensures durability and preserves the instrument from corrosion.
As mentioned, the Asmuse steel tongue drum features 8 tongues in C major. The drum is set to a pentatonic scale consisting of five notes – C, D, E, G, and A.
The pentatonic scale lacks half-step intervals between notes, and all notes within the same octave tie well together. This makes the Asmuse tongue drum an excellent option for budding musicians – the simplicity of this instrument doesn’t leave room for dissonance. Anyone could produce a pleasant sound even without musical education.
This tongue drum sounds just like its more expensive alternatives. Frankly, there can’t be many differences between two tongue drums made of the same material and featuring the same musical scale.
The instrument is hollow, and no advanced technology is used. Of course, with more notes, you have more freedom of choice, but this drum allows you to hit the notes at random and still create an enjoyable tone.
A critical advantage of the Asmuse steel tongue drum is that you get the entire starter pack together with the instrument.
A nylon travel bag, a set of numbered stickers, a pair of mallets, and a mallet bracket are included, so you don’t have to worry about any additional accessories.
One contentious point about the Asmuse tongue drum is that it is handmade.
Even though each instrument has a unique sound, it may cause some pieces to be off-tune. This isn’t a frequent complaint among those who have purchased the drum, but there is a possibility of getting a faulty component. The issue here lies in the fact that tongue drums aren’t easy to tune on your own.
The quality of assembly and overlay may also vary, meaning that not every drum is flawless. Thankfully, like any respected brand, Asmuse will issue a refund to those unhappy with their purchase.
Of course, at this price point, no one expects high-class accessories. The rubber mallets aren’t the worst but certainly don’t look like professional gear. The same goes for the nylon travel bag – it is a basic, thin covering with a brand logo that won’t save the instrument from severe damage but will keep it clean.
- Affordable price
- Electroplated steel
- Convenient size
- A great set of accessories
- Good value
- Some pieces may be off-tune
- The quality varies
Moukey Steel Tongue Drum
This is an affordable 11-tongue option for non-professionals. The company specializes in low- and middle-class musical equipment, primarily producing microphones, speakers, and amplifiers. The tongue drum is competitively priced – even cheaper than the Asmuse version. Let’s take a closer look at its characteristics to determine if it’s a winner in terms of quality.
This 10-inch tongue drum is made by hand from steel and weighs 2kg. The instrument comes with mallets and a travel bag – the necessary starter pack. This is certainly not an option for experienced musicians, as the tune isn’t always accurate.
However, due to affordability and numbered tongues, this percussion piece is great for hobbyists. The number of notes means a broader range of chords compared to an 8-tongue drum.
The main advantage of this tongue drum is its versatility. It features 11 tongues set to D major, offering more freedom of musical choice than with 8-tongue versions. Several tongues can be hit at the same time, creating chords.
Despite more notes, the instrument isn’t overcomplicated – every tongue has engravings, which helps those with little to no experience.
It would be hard to make an unpleasant sound with this instrument even if you tried due to the wide range of complementary notes. This makes the Moukey tongue drum ideal for various purposes and users. It is equally suitable for children’s music education as it is meditation.
The tongue drum is made of steel covered with matte black paint. The texture is smooth and pleasant to the touch. The instrument’s diameter is average – 10 inches – making it easy to carry around and store.
Overall, the Moukey tongue drum is ergonomic and features an attractive, minimalistic design. Another advantage of this tongue drum is the three rubberized feet. It may sound minor, but they have an essential purpose – the instrument resonates better when elevated.
Moukey has done an excellent job with accessories for this tongue drum. The set includes only the basics – rubberized drumsticks and a carrying bag.
But the quality of these extras is quite impressive for an instrument in the lower price range. The bag is padded and features an adjustable, removable strap.
Note precision is a substantial disadvantage of this tongue drum. The cut of tongues isn’t exact, making some notes sound flat. However, each Moukey tongue drum is handcrafted, so the quality of instruments varies, and this may not be an issue with some pieces.
Most non-professionals may not even notice the tone dissonance, but you should keep this in mind.
Another issue is that tuning a faulty piece isn’t as easy as it could be. Magnets don’t work well with Moukey tongue drums, perhaps, due to the low amount of steel used.
The tongues can be adjusted by applying pressure, but it isn’t the most convenient way to tune a tongue drum.
Finally, this tongue drum isn’t designed to be played using the hands. Instead of a magical tune that tongue drums are renowned for, you will hear a dull knock.
Even though beginners are advised to play using mallets, it is disappointing as you won’t be able to try out a different technique and understand whether it works for you.
- Minimalistic and ergonomic design
- Rubberized feet
- Good quality of accessories
- More notes mean more chords
- Can’t be played using hands
- Pieces are often off-tune
- Issues tuning the instrument
Regis Steel Tongue Drum
The Regis Steel Tongue Drum is a lower-end, compact option. It is cheaper than the competitors but surprisingly well-made. If you aren’t into small tongue drums, we recommend checking out the 13-note, 11-inch version from Regis, as it offers excellent value for money.
This drum features 8 tongues set in C major. It is very compact – only 6 inches in diameter and under 1kg in weight. There are four colors available: cheerful pink, bright blue, and elegant navy and grey.
All necessary accessories are included in the set, so you won’t have to purchase any extras. Overall, the Regis tongue drum is of good value, even though it has minor flaws. It isn’t a professional instrument, but the possibility to play using fingers makes it an excellent option for those who have a bit of experience and want to try new techniques.
Furthermore, it is suitable for children due to the smaller size and fun color options. The pentatonic scale makes it simple to play – even people with no experience can produce a harmonious melody.
The main things we like about this tongue drum are its ergonomic design and quality of craftsmanship. It is made of steel covered with glossy textured paint and is pleasant to the touch.
And there’s a color for everyone! The possibility to choose among different color options is something a lot of competitors lack. If you are looking for a tongue drum that you can easily carry in your bag or for your child to play – this is it. The size of this drum is tiny compared to other instruments in our selection.
Also, each piece is made by hand, but it is in no way flimsy.
Another good thing about this drum is that the sound is better than expected from such a cheap instrument. In terms of loudness, it fares well against some of the larger models, and tuning issues are rare, even though the instrument is handcrafted.
Furthermore, this tongue drum can be played with the fingers, while many competitors from the same price range are limited to mallets.
The accessories set includes rubberized mallets, number tongue stickers, a backpack, and a manual.
The quality of accessories is average; however, one thing to note is that the manual includes instructions for playing several music pieces, which is excellent for beginners.
Even though the sound is decent, it isn’t perfect – a bit of distortion is present. Of course, the quality varies slightly as the instrument is made by hand, just like its competitors, and there is a possibility of getting an off-tune piece. Note that there is no warranty included.
Another con of this tongue drum is the numbered tongue stickers. Sure, they are helpful for newbies but ruin the aesthetic. Some competitors have the numbers engraved – this is a much more durable and better-looking option.
Finally, this drum’s size is not necessarily a con but rather something to consider before purchasing it. It may be perfect for people with smaller hands or for those who only play using mallets.
However, if you have large hands and want to play with fingers, you may find the 6-inch size a bit limiting.
- Different color options
- Loud sound
- Can be played with fingers
- No warranty
- Slight sound distortion
- Number stickers instead of engraving
Lomuty Steel Tongue Drum
This is an affordable yet advanced option. Unlike its competitors, the brand specializes specifically in tongue drums, meaning that they know what they’re doing. There are also 6- and 10-inch versions available, with different note quantities. For more experienced musicians, Lomuty offers a 22-inch handpan.
This tongue drum features 11 notes set in C major. It is larger than previous tongue drums from our selection – 12 inches in diameter. The color range is impressive – red, white, navy, black, bronze, dark purple, matte green, golden, pink, silver, lavender, ancient malachite, and lake blue.
The drum comes with two mallets, a mallet bracket, six finger picks, a set of tongue stickers, a travel bag, and a music book. Overall, it is a beautifully designed instrument with only minor drawbacks. This tongue drum will be excellent both for beginners and experienced musicians.
The thing that catches the eye first is the extensive range of color options – Lomuty offers 13 colors for any preference, including two different but equally beautiful shades of green. The tongues are shaped like lotus leaves – a nice design touch that shows that the instrument is well thought through.
Another thing that makes this tongue drum stand out is the titanium alloy that the instrument is constructed from. It ensures higher durability, as well as corrosion and heat resistance.
The design is essential, but what about the sound? Lomuty tongue drum features 11 notes in three octaves that are set in a pentatonic scale. The range of sounds is more comprehensive than that of 8 tongue drums.
The rubberized feet lift the instrument off the ground and improve sound resonation. The tongue drum can be played using finger picks. Overall, the sound is deep and satisfying. It does not sound like a xylophone, unlike some of the low-end tongue drums.
The accessory set includes everything you need and even more. A music book with instructions on playing 16 songs is a nice addition for beginners. The case is hardened, meaning that the instrument is protected from dirt and minor pressure. It is unlikely to withstand serious damage, though.
The 12-inch diameter and over 3kg weight make this tongue drum less portable. Also, some people have reported the paint chipping off the exterior.
This defect is likely a result of handcrafting and is not present in every piece. Also, the tongue numbers are stickered rather than engraved.
Like any other tongue drum of this price range, instruments may be off-tune on rare occasions. In some cases, the set is missing accessories – it is incredibly frustrating regarding missing finger picks, as the instrument can’t be played with bare hands. Thankfully, Lomuty has no problem issuing refunds.
- Wide range of color options
- Titanium alloy body
- Finger picks and music book included
- Stickers instead of engraving
- Missing accessories in some sets
Rakumi 14 Inch 15 Note Steel Tongue Drum
Rakumi is a company that produces various metal products – from earrings to tongue drums. Even though it isn’t a solely musical brand, Rakumi knows their craftsmanship and has managed to make a quality drum to rival other brands.
The Rakumi steel tongue drum is notably larger than other instruments in our selection – 14 inches in diameter, nearly 5kg in weight. Three color options are available: seafoam green, bronze, and midnight sky blue.
This tongue drum is slightly pricier than its competitors but still lies in the lower price range. It is a beautifully designed percussion piece that will be great for non-professionals. The 15 notes of this tongue drum are set in C major and have a two-octave range, producing a deep sound that resonates well.
Design is what truly makes the Rakumi tongue drum stand out. The tongues have a unique shape with oriental style curves.
The color range offered by Rakumi isn’t as wide as, for example, that produced by Lomuty, but the shades are elegant and alluring, nonetheless. The blue option isn’t plain – it features tiny golden dots that resemble stars in the midnight sky. The shade of green is refreshing and goes well with golden numbers and brown accents of accessories.
Bronze looks less striking but is undoubtedly stylish. The texture of the paint is smooth, with a matte finish. Plus, the paint used is water-based and environmentally friendly.
A woven detail with beads around the rim is a nice finishing touch. Furthermore, the numbers on tongues are painted on rather than stickered, meaning that they won’t get lost over time.
Rakumi tongue drum features 15 notes. That’s a valid reason to forgive the instrument’s bulkiness – the range of songs that can be played is wider than that of 8 or 11-tongue drums.
There are plenty of complementary notes, so the instrument isn’t overcomplicated despite the number of tongues. The notes are close to tune, and the instrument sounds well both when played on using mallets and finger picks. It also has silicone feet to elevate it and improve the sound resonation.
Rakumi tongue drum can be played using mallets and fingers – even without finger picks.
The accessory set includes a travel bag, a pair of rubberized mallets, a mallet bracket, fingerpicks, and a book to play the drum. This is a standard starter pack that is no doubt a valuable addition. Mallets come in a branded case. The book includes instructions on playing the Happy Birthday song.
The cons of this tongue drum are minor. First, the zipper on the protective case often doesn’t function properly, but that’s a minor issue considering the low price point.
Secondly, the lower notes are a bit muffled. This makes the Rakumi tongue drum unsuitable for people with perfect musical hearing – however, the brand doesn’t advertise it as a professional instrument.
Thirdly, this percussion piece is a bit heavy. It isn’t as handy to carry outside as competitors of smaller diameter. Therefore, it isn’t suitable for children.
- Environment-friendly paint
- 15 notes
- Full accessory set
- Notes close to the tune
- Zipper of the travel bag
- Dull lower notes
- Not as compact as competitors
Happybuy Steel Tongue Drum
Happybuy tongue drum is a simple, beginner-friendly option. Besides the 13-note version, the brand offers 8-note and 11-note versions of different diameters. Happybuy also produces handpans.
Happybuy tongue drum features 13 notes set in C major. The diameter is slightly above average – 12 inches. It is made of durable steel and titanium alloy. There are 10 color options available – bronze, white, red, hot pink, navy, golden, dark green, light blue, matte black, and gunmetal.
The tongue drum comes together with a complete set of accessories. Overall, the instrument is of good value but lacks anything that would make it stand out.
A significant advantage of the Happybuy tongue drum is its versatility. It features 13 notes set in a C major pentatonic scale. Therefore, the notes can be easily tied into a harmonious melody.
Despite 13 tongues, it isn’t the largest tongue drum on the market – the 12-inch size allows you to carry it with ease. The sound resonates well, and the drum is tuned precisely. It is simple enough for beginners yet provides more musical freedom than 8-tongue versions.
The manufacturer claims that each tongue drum undertakes a two-step tuning process – before and after painting.
Another thing to note is the shade range – everyone can find a color to fit their preference. The texture is smooth and pleasant to the touch.
Plus, the paint is scratch-resistant. The design is fundamental – each instrument lacks even the brand logo. This is a subjective point, but if you prefer minimalism, this could be the choice for you. The instrument material includes titan alloy that improves durability.
The accessory set includes a pair of mallets, a mallet bracket, a music book, fingerpicks, and a padded travel bag.
There are a couple of things that betray the price of this tongue drum. First, the design is very simple – this isn’t a disadvantage on its own, but it doesn’t compare favorably with the competition, like Rakumi and Lomuty.
The numbered tongue stickers are of poor quality – they don’t stick well and don’t look presentable. Many buyers have reported that the feet of this tongue drum come off easily. This can be solved with the help of superglue, but it is inconvenient regardless.
Some pieces may be crafted worse than others, resulting in a dull sound of lower notes. However, that’s a common issue among tongue drums of this price range.
- Wide color range
- Made of steel and titanium alloy
- Two-step tuning process
- 13 notes
- Number stickers
- Feet come off easily
Gimars Steel Tongue Drum Kit
The Gimars steel tongue drum comes in two versions – 6-inch 8 note and 10-inch 12 note. We included the smaller option in our selection, as it is an excellent example of a simple yet high-quality tongue drum. Let’s take a look at what makes this percussion piece so great.
This is the second compact 6-inch tongue drum option in our guide. The 8 tongues are tuned in the C major pentatonic scale. The instrument body is made of steel and titanium alloy.
High silicone feet ensure good sound resonation. There are two colors available – dark grey and navy.
Even though the Gimar tongue drum is handcrafted, it is made with high precision and sounds flawless. This percussion piece fits the needs of both experienced musicians and newbies.
The design of Gimars tongue drum is plain yet with great attention to detail. The instrument is smooth to the touch. The navy version has a leather-like texture, while the grey version has a hammered look.
The metallic color numbers of notes are engraved on tongues – they won’t come off over time. The tongues are shaped like lotus leaves – an elegant design flourish. The Gimars tongue drum features a silicone base that ensures a stable position; the instrument won’t slide off surfaces.
In addition to the steel and titanium alloy used for the instrument’s body, durability is achieved by electroplating.
This drum provides exceptional sound. The tongues are cut precisely, and all notes are accurate. The C major tone of this percussion piece is cheerful and clean. Therefore, it is excellent for people with discerning ears that have some experience in music.
At the same time, the pentatonic scale leaves no chance for a wrong chord, making this tongue drum suitable for those who are only starting to play the instrument.
Apart from a standard set of mallets, four fingerpicks, a music book, and a padded travel bag, this tongue drum comes with a stylish velvet dust case.
Having both a case and a carrying bag isn’t necessary, but it’s another indicator that the product has been well thought through. The instrument is compact and can be easily carried anywhere you like.
Both disadvantages of Gimars tongue drum are very subjective. The number of notes is a bit limiting, and the size won’t be convenient for anyone.
On the other hand, the fewer notes, the more suitable a tongue drum is for those with little experience. Just like its 6-inch competitor from Regis, Gimar tongue drum may be slightly small for people with larger hands who want to play with fingers. In this case, we recommend checking out the 10-inch, 12-note version from Gimar.
- Accurately tuned
- Titanium alloy body and electroplated paint
- Good quality of accessories
- Limited number of notes
- Might be small for some people
Before purchasing a tongue drum, you may want to consider five main characteristics – construction, size of the drum, number of notes, accessories, and cost. Often, there’s no universal answer to what is better, as the most appropriate set of features depends on your needs, skills, and preferences.
Read on to find out how to define what tongue drum to look for.
Tongue drums are hollow percussion instruments. This means that the sound quality depends mainly on construction, materials used, and the tongue cut precision.
Most tongue drums are made of steel, but the alloys included may differ. For example, titanium alloys improve the durability, heat, and corrosion resistance of an instrument.
Some cheaper tongue drum versions are made of alloys with a low amount of genuine steel, which may result in tuning issues as magnets don’t work well on some of the other metals. Another small detail to look for in a tongue drum is the feet.
When the instrument is elevated, the sound resonates better. Not all tongue drums have feet, so that’s certainly an advantage for those that do. Even the paint’s quality may influence the sound; an instrument needs to be tuned after being coated with paint.
Most often, there is no way of knowing this manufacturing detail. However, it is easy enough to notice a bad paint job. If the paint is chipping off the tongues, the weight distribution may change slightly and lead to a fluctuation in tone.
Electroplating is another feature to look for in a steel tongue drum – it improves the paint durability. There are also wooden tongue drums available on the market.
Size of Drum
Tongue drums range from 6 to 14 inches in size. Smaller tongue drums may weigh below 1kg, while larger ones above 5kg. Each size has pros and cons, meaning you have to consider several things before choosing the perfect diameter.
Firstly, are you going to play the drum solely at home, or would you like to carry it around? If you want a portable instrument, compact versions are better. For those who only play tongue drums at home, the convenience of transportation doesn’t really matter.
Secondly, the perfect size depends on whether you want to play using mallets or hands. 6-inch tongue versions are best suited for playing with mallets or for children. Even though they are possible to play using fingers, it isn’t all that simple.
You have to be very careful not to hit the wrong tongues, which may be hard for inexperienced musicians or those with large fingers. Large tongue drum versions are generally easier to play with fingers but slightly more complicated when it comes to fast-paced musical compositions as the tongues are located further from each other.
Furthermore, the size of a tongue drum depends on the note quantity, meaning that you won’t find a 15-note, 6-inch version. Generally, 8- and 10-inch tongue drums are the optimal choices. They are also manufactured with any tongue number.
Number of Notes
The most common number of notes for a tongue drum is 8. But you can also find 6, 9, 11, 13, and 15 note versions. The more notes available, the wider the range of compositions that can be played on an instrument.
A common misconception is that tongue drums with 11, 13, or 15 notes are complicated. This may be true in some cases but is not a universal rule. The simplicity of an instrument depends mainly on the scale it is set to.
Most frequently, tongue drums are set to diatonic or pentatonic scales. The pentatonic scale is considered best for beginners, as it lacks half steps and all notes within the same octave complement each other. Therefore, it’s hard to create dissonance.
The diatonic scale is easy enough for those already accustomed to tongue drums but may confuse newbies. If you are looking to buy your first tongue drum, look for an instrument with any note number set to the pentatonic scale.
When it comes to tuning, the most popular options are C, D, or G major. A lot of tongue drums are set to C major by default. However, the tune can be changed with the help of a magnet or manual pressure. Major scales are cheerful and high-pitched, while minor scales have a deeper sound.
Accessories may significantly lower or raise the final value of an instrument. Many tongue drums on the market come in a set with mallets, fingerpicks, travel bags, and musical books with beginners’ instructions.
Even an average quality accessory set is an excellent addition that saves you time and money; purchasing extras separately may amount to a substantial sum.
On the other hand, the accessories often included in a set aren’t the most durable, so you may want to consider purchasing items with better characteristics. A travel bag isn’t essential if you are only playing your tongue drum at home, but a padded bag is an absolute must for those who need a portable instrument.
It will protect your instrument if it’s bumped – as even a slight deformation can cause a tongue drum to lose its tune.
Mallets and a music book with instructions on playing various songs are primarily useful for beginners. The importance of finger picks depends on the type of tongue drum – some can’t be played on with bare hands. In other cases, fingerpicks serve primarily as protection for your hands.
Just like with any other musical instrument, the price range of tongue drums is quite broad.
You can find options for as low as $30, but we certainly don’t recommend buying the cheapest instrument, even if it’s your first one.
On average, good quality tongue drums cost between $100-300. The chances of finding a flawlessly tuned instrument in this price range are low, but most often, tune issues are only present in lower notes and can be easily fixed.
When it comes to professional instruments, the cost may leap up to over $800. Of course, affordability is a subjective matter, and only you can decide how much to spend. However, most non-experts won’t notice the difference between a tongue drum’s sound for $200 and one for $800. We recommend sticking to the mid-range options to get the best value.
When Was the Steel Tongue Drum Invented?
The tongue drum is a modern musical instrument – it was invented in 2007 by Dennis Havlena. It was initially made from a propane cylinder. For this reason, it is often called a tank drum.
Havlena drew inspiration from a “whale drum” made in 2005 by Jim Doble. However, wooden versions of a similar instrument have been used by the Aztecs and African tribes. These ancient tongue drum versions looked like wooden cylinders with slits.
Why Do They Call It a Tongue Drum?
As mentioned above, the instrument has been previously called a tank drum. The name “tongue drum” has only become common recently. This name comes from the shape of the slit cuts on the instrument’s surface that resemble tongues or leaves.
What Does a Tongue Drum Do?
A tongue drum has nothing to do with actual drums. However, it is a percussion instrument, meaning that it produces sounds when struck.
The instrument is hollow, and the sound is created by resonance. Different notes are achieved by varying the length of the tongue cuts. Chords are created by hitting several tongues at a time.
What Scales Are Available on Tongue Drums?
The range of possible scales is extensive. Most commonly, tongue drums feature a pentatonic scale, but there are also diatonic, chromatic, and other scales available. The pentatonic scale features 5 notes per octave, while chromatic – 12 notes.
The pentatonic scale is often used in folk music – for this reason, tongue drums sound great when set to this scale. In most cases, the manufacturer clearly indicates to which scale an instrument is set.
Some tongue drums can be re-tuned. This is often achieved by the addition of removable weights beneath the tongues.
Does a Steel Tongue Drum Sound as Good as a Hang Drum?
Tongue drums and hang drums are only similar in shape and material. Hang drums are much larger (most often, 22 inches in diameter), heavier, and slightly different. They are also notably pricier.
As for the sound, both instruments have an ethereal tone that fits well with meditation, but there certainly is a difference. Generally, hang drums are louder and resonate better. The pitch also differs, although these instruments can be tuned to the same scales.
How to Play a Steel Tongue Drum?
You can use either mallets or hands to play a tongue drum. However, beginners are usually advised to use mallets, as there’s a lower chance of hitting the wrong note.
Another thing to consider is that mallets produce a louder sound. This isn’t necessarily an advantage – some prefer the softer sound produced by fingers. This is a subjective point. You should try both methods to understand which one works best for you.
First, make sure that the instrument is tuned correctly. People with perfect musical hearing can do it by simply playing all the notes in a row, but you can purchase a tuner if you aren’t music-savvy.
Then, you have to figure out the notes – on most tongue drums, the tongues are numbered, so it should be simple enough. Once you get to know the notes, you can find instructions for specific songs and start playing by hitting the tongues.
However, this isn’t obligatory – tongue drums are great for improvisation. You can hit several notes at once to create chords. A drum position is essential, too; leave a bit of space between the bottom of the instrument and the surface it’s placed on.
How to Tune a Tongue Drum?
Steel tongue drums can be tuned either manually or with the use of a magnet. First, select the desired frequency and scale and get a tuner if you don’t have perfect pitch.
Generally, the recommended frequency is 440, 423, or 528Hz. Some tongue drums have a hole at the bottom where a magnet or hand can be placed inside. Others are more complicated to adjust. If you lift a tongue, the note will sound higher. An important thing to recognize is that a magnet has to be placed directly at the center of a tongue.
Otherwise, you may move the tongue to the side and mess up the tune.
How to Take Care of a Tongue Drum?
Tongue drums are quite fragile instruments. Any deformation will cause a tongue drum to lose its tune. Therefore, you have to use precautions to ensure that the instrument is in order.
First, don’t hit the tongues too hard when playing. The motion of your hand should start at your wrist rather than at your elbow or shoulder.
Secondly, when playing with fingers, hit the sides and the bottom of a tongue instead of the center. Thirdly, store the instrument in a dry place to avoid corrosion. Use a dust cover to protect it from scratches and debris.
Every tongue drum in our selection has its pros and cons. Among 6-inch versions, the champion is the Gimars Steel Tongue Drum Kit. It has the best-tune accuracy of all competitors and features engraved note numbers, a silicone base, and a titan alloy body.
But for those who would like to have more freedom of song choice, the Rakumi tongue drum is without a doubt a clear winner. The design of this instrument is striking and with great attention to detail.
This tongue drum is so beautiful that it’s worth purchasing based solely on how attractive it is. It features the highest number of notes out of our selection and can be played using both mallets and fingers – even bare.
This instrument is tuned very close to tone, with only lower notes being slightly off. However, that’s a common issue in mid-range tongue drums.
Hopefully, with our guide’s help, you will find the perfect tongue drum to fit your needs.