What is the Difference Between a 'Hank Drum' and a 'Steel Tongue Drum'?

The PANArt Hang ('Hang Drum')

Hank Drum (made from Propane tank)

Hank-style Steel Tongue Drum made from custom-made shells

Tambiro - A Pre-Hank Invented Steel Tongue Drum

On websites such as this one (and others like it), you may have noticed that the terms ‘Steel Tongue Drum’, and ‘Hank Drum’, are used fairly interchangeably. Which could lead to confusion. And while this post should be considered to be ‘as I understand it’ (and arguably a little bit anal), rather than necessarily encyclopedia factual. It (attempts) to explain the difference between the two terms, ‘as I understand it!’, for those interested in such things...

The ‘Hank drum’ (sometimes referred to simply as a ‘Hank’), is the ‘Hang-inspired’ instrument invented by ‘Dennis Havlena’, back in 2007. Made from a (usually new) Propane gas tank, the Hank drum has tuned tongues cut into its upper surface, mirroring the note layout of the PANArt Hang (‘Hang drum’). And is essentially played in the same manner.

The name Hank drum is a combination of the words ‘Hang’, and ‘Tank’ (with an additional hat-tip towards ‘Hank’ (the Propane Salesman) from the animated TV show ‘King of the Hill’). And as such, a ‘true’ Hank should be made from an empty Propane tank. As per Dennis Havlena’s original instructions.

Steel Tongue Drum

All Hank drum are steel tongue drum, by their very nature (being made out of a steel tank with tongues cut into it). But (technically) not all steel tongue drum are Hank drum. Many who produce steel tongue drum for sale commercially have found that custom-made shells are preferable to Propane tanks, in many ways. Though not being made from a Propane tank, the Hank moniker, as per its initial meaning is not necessarily fitting for these instruments (we certainly won’t slap you should you refer to a steel tongue drum as a Hank however - it’s certainly quicker to type, and less of a mouthful to say).

And additionally, while Hank, and Hank-inspired instruments are generally of most interest to the HandPan community, the Hank was by no means the first steel-formed tongue drum. With instruments such as the ‘Tambiro’, (see video), and the ‘Whale drum’ (though with neither typically utilizing the HandPan-style note layout) proceeding the Hank, in date of invention.
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