Whether you are an experienced musician or a complete novice in the field, there are certain instruments that transport your imagination in a quarter of a second. Have you been, like many others before, captivated by the sound of this amazing object and would like to know more about it before embarking on your adventure? You have come to the right place as we are the manufacturer of the first tunable tongue drum equipped with a microphone and a jack plug (the Multiscale tongue drum). But before we talk about us, here is the information you came for about tongue drums. Fasten your seat belt and follow our guide!
What is a tongue drum?
A tongue drum (also known as the steel tongue drum, hank drum or tank drum) is a percussion instrument in the idiophone family (instruments that create sounds through the vibration of the material itself without requiring strings, membranes, or external resonators).
It is a very melodic percussion instrument and highly appreciated for its relaxing sounds and ease of playing, which does not require any particular technique. Anyone can easily pick one up and start playing, with the number of slats or “tongues” equal to the number of notes it can produce. You can either use mallets or your hands..
To play with a tongue drum you can either use mallets or your hands.
Although its origins date back to ancient times, the tongue drum has come back with a vengeance in the last few years, in particular thanks to the emergence of DIY versions made from propane tanks — one option being cutting off the bottoms of two tanks, welding them together, and cutting out “tongues” of different lengths on one side.
What are the differences between a Tongue Drum and a Hang Drum / Handpan?
The sounds of the tongue drum are very similar to those of another percussion: the Hang drum (also called handpan or hand pan). The manufacturing process is however totally different since it is tuned by hammering. The other name of Tonge drum, “Hank drum”, comes from a mix between “Tank drum” and “Hang drum”, but despite their common points it should be noted that the price of the Hang drum is much higher, making it much less accessible (Count between $1500 and $3000 for a hang drum or hand pan and around $550 for a quality tongue drum).
In addition, the manufacturing process of a hang drum or hand pan being really very long, you often have to wait several months or even a year before obtaining your hang drum / handpan from the manufacturer. Tongue drums are often available immediately for purchase, which allows you to enjoy them earlier and quickly immerse yourself in the the first melodies that you will play with your steel tongue drum..
Which tongue drum is made for me?
We can find tongue drums tuned in many tones: major, minor, pentatonic, akebono scales etc ... It is often difficult to choose among all these scales because they all sound wonderful but you can only choose one. This is why the purchase of a tongue drum is the result of a long and deep reflection, because this instrument will accompany you for many years, just like its scale. So you better know yourself very well to be sure that you will like the scale you choose so you will not regret your choice after few months playing it on your tongue drum. Realize that you are going to play for years on the same scale without being able to play something different. The scale you choose will accompany you whenever you feel like playing your tongue drum and will become your faithful traveling companion. The only way to play another tone is to buy another tongue drum tuned to a different scale. A hell of a commitment you will tell me ... But that was before we released our Multiscale tongue drum model :)
The Beat Root tunable tongue drum
In 2018 we created the first electro-acoustic tunable tongue drum bringing together 6 different scales thanks to an innovative tuning system allowing you to switch from one to another in just a few seconds. Thanks to our Multiscale tongue drum, you no longer have to choose a single scale for your tongue drum. The 6 scales of our Multiscale tongue drum allow you to play introspective, joyful, meditative, warm and melancholic melodies. Thanks to our tunable tongue drum, no matter when you want to play, you will always have a scale to match your mood.
For a detailed presentation of the 6 scales of our Multiscale tongue drum: The 6 scales of our Multiscale tongue drum
To learn more about the tuning system of our Multiscale tongue drum: How to change the scale of your Multiscale tongue drum