Are you a professional musician who is seeking a new sound? Or maybe you are a total newbie who was once captivated by the sound of the tongue drums and the ease of playing them? Then you might already be in a hunting mode searching for a good tongue drum. Since the trend started in early 2000s a great number of steel tongue drums appeared. This checklist will help you to navigate through the ocean of various tongue drum options and find your one and only instrument.
What do we usually first look at – the quality or the design? The design of course! And just pretty any other thing, choosing a drum with a catchy look can be a tricky thing. For how many times in your life you bought some item on a whim just because it looked cute and you regretted million times after?
You can find various fancy-looking tongue drums – colorful and bright but don’t be in a rush before you check the sound.
The sound of your future drum is the most crucial characteristics. The better the sound quality is, the more motivated you will be to play your drum.
Many factors affect the sound of the instrument including the drum’s shape, the tongue’s shape, the material itself, coating and many others. What should you know when choosing a tongue drum? The bigger the drum is, the greater is resonating chamber and the louder (and better) is the sound. So if you take a plate-sized drum, be ready to get what you are paying for. The big tongue drums like the RAV Vast (52 cm in diameter) produce a harmonious loud sound with multiple overtones which is another sound characteristic you should check before buying a tongue drum. The more harmonious overtones a vibrating tongue produces, the better the quality of the drum is. To compare, hand-crafted tank drums can have 1-2 overtones, while a branded RAV Vast tongue drum has up to 7 harmonious overtones produced by each tongue.
Sustain or resonance is another important sound parameter. The longer the resonance is, the richer sound you’ll get. The sound of the cheap tongue drums can last up to 5-7 seconds only, while a good tongue drum will sound for 15 seconds. The RAV Vast tongue drum has the longest sustain of 25 seconds.
You would probably like your drum to have a long (literally immortal) life so pay attention to the materials the drum is made of. Tongue drums are usually made of steel. The thinner the steel is, the more delicate sound the drum has. Branded producers use paints and coatings to protect steel from rust. Make sure your drum is made of high-quality steel and has a rust-resistant coating. Some recommend using lubricants and oils regularly to provide additional protection. The RAV Vast drums do not require any special treatment except wiping the drum with a clean cloth to remove dust and dirt. The RAV drum’s special blue painting provides extra-protection and rust-resistance.
It’s like buying a car. You can buy a cheap old granny’s clunker and expect to have lots of problems and repairments sooner, or you can save some money and buy a fancy auto you would enjoy driving day by day. There’s no shortage of cheap tongue drums costing up to $100 that can amuse you for a few days and rest untouched and gathering dust on a coffee table. But perhaps you would like to have a high-quality instrument that will guide you to this amazing world of music? The price for a good tongue drum starts from $600-700 and has no upper limit. Decide on your budget, and check all the details before you make your decision. However, investing in a high-quality drum will be a bon march. Make sure you buy from a trusted brand that will provide you all the certificates and guarantees.
But remember, the last decision you take should be taken by your heart. Do you feel that some particular drum resonates with you? Don’t doubt, you’ve found your true love!