While not everybody agrees that Handpan, and steel tongue / Hank drum should be grouped together as instrument types, however loosely - for those not having much luck in their search, or those not willing, or able, to meet the price tag associated with the majority of bona-fide Handpan, Hank-style steel tongue drum have a now fairly established history of serving as entry-level / stepping-stone instruments, into the world of UFO-shaped singing-steel. In general, the majority of Hank utilise the Handpan style note-layout pioneered by PANArt with the Hang. They’re of an approximate size and shape to Handpan. And to more and lesser degrees, they (arguably) have a similar kind of sound.
And so with that in mind, while there are certainly cheaper alternatives to be found than these, with this post, we’ll be taking a peek at three of the more “high end” steel tongue drum. Steel tongue drum that (again arguably) go some way to filling the gap between a Handpan, and an empty-propane gas tank with some tongues cut into it.
Popularity - The Rav Drum
We dropped a post on the RAV brand of steel tongue drum back last year, following in the wave of some great RAV videos appearing online, and a huge amount of positive chatter. The RAV makers utilize a revolutionary tongue-tuning technique quite different to that of the traditional steel tongue drum, to create an instrument that has in many ways become the current “sweetheart” of the Handpan-world, regardless of the fact that these aren’t even technically Handpan. With the only real downside to that being , that if the Handpan has taught us anything in the past, it’s that with demand, comes waiting. So while the RAV may be the most sought after (at time of posting) of the three - you can expect an at least short period of thumb-twiddling between placing your order, and getting your hands on your RAV. Available to order from the ravdrum.com website.
Range and Availability - GUDA / StandArt
The GUDA range of steel tongue drum are among our own personal favourites here at HPM. They have a signature earthy-brown coloration, and ornate detailing. And when it comes to range, GUDA / Zen-Percussion also win out, being available in a wide range of sizes, styles, and prices, from the smaller Freezbee model, through to the more Handpan-sized StandArt model, that you can hear in action below. And if you’re looking to get your hands on something in a hurry, these are generally available for immediate purchase over at the official ETSY store: HERE.
Heritage - 1Tone FunTone Pro
1Tone were among the first makers to take the idea of Dennis Havlena’s “Hank drum” (tongue drum made from empty propane gas tanks), as an alternative to the more difficult to come by PANArt Hang / Handpan, and bring them to market in a more commercial way. 1Tone’s no longer produced “Eclipse” model was among the first Handpan-alternative instruments that we learned of here at HPM back in the early days of this website, and indeed, was the first we purchased on our own path of singing-steel (and we still have it). As stated above the Eclipse model is no longer offered by 1Tone, having been replaced by their more recent model the FunTone Pro. And you can take a listen to that below, or find them for purchase: HERE.