Steel Tongue Drums

Rockcreek Steel Drums welcomes the steel tongue drum as the newest member of the steel drum family. Its long sustain and rich tones complement the brighter tones and shorter sustain of the traditional steel drum. Whether you are a serious musician or a novice looking to have some fun at home, the tank drum is a great tool for anyone looking to make soothing sounds of their own.


The steel tongue drum is a newly developed instrument that is a cross between a traditional Caribbean steel drum, a wooden tongue drum and a Kalimba. Like the steel pan it is a steel drum that is used to play melody. Its sound has been compared to a Wurlitzer (Think Ray Charles), or a Fender Rhodes or the NBC chimes.


The steel tongue drum is approximately 85 decibels when played.

This is softer than the traditional steel drum which is approximately 95 decibels when played. The note layouts are based on those from our steel drum ensemble, and different members of the steel tongue drum family of instruments have different pitch ranges and are used to play melodies, chord progressions and bass lines. Rockcreek offers four different steel tongue drums: the 9-Note Drum, the Cycle of Fifths, the Double Seconds and the Bass Drums.


These drums come with mallets and a booklet that teaches you to play your major chords, minor chords, seventh chords, augmented chords and diminished chords by learning shapes that are the same for every key. It also teaches all major, minor and pentatonic scales using the same pattern for every key. You will be able to play in any key very quickly and with no memorization.


A Little History

The modern steel tongue drum was only introduced a few years ago by Dennis Havlina. He is the first person we know of to produce a steel drum instrument made from the much thicker 5 gallon steel tanks used for propane storage. By slicing a perimeter around the notes on the bottom of the drum, Dennis created a durable steel tongue drum. Its popularity is quickly gaining speed worldwide.


Our Drums/The Rockcreek Difference

Rockcreek Steel Drums applies the same building techniques and note layout to the steel tongue drum that we do to the traditional steel drums. Our method of cutting, burning, stretching and grinding the playing area until it rings to a rich tone and concert tuned pitch also tunes the harmonics. In addition, each member of our synchronized steel tongue drum ensemble is tuned on a chromatic scale.


The Steel Tongue Ensemble consists of three drums that play together to form a complete band, covering all ranges. These are the cycle of fifths, used to play melodies; the double seconds, with the largest range and versatility and the bass pans, used to summon the back beat. The ensemble drums are also synchronized by their universal drum pattern. Once a player learns the pattern of one drum, he or she then knows how to play the other drums in the ensemble. A second set of double seconds and a cycle of fifths can be added to expand the ensemble to include more players.