How To Get A Good Sound From A Tongue Drum

Notice some of the tines on your tongue drum sound 'clunking'?

Here are some tips to improve the sound of your steel tongue drum, it will sound a lot better as you practice more😃

  1. Firstly, please put the drum on a flat surface (a drum stand or a desk). Try to avoid putting it on your lap, it won't affect the low notes much, but the fabric might stop the high notes from ringing (The mini hand-pan won't have this problem, different material) 

  2. Hold your hand at the back of the drum stick, relax your hand, and don't hold it too tight. This will give you more flexibility for playing and better resonance.

  3. The mallets need to be lightly bounced on the tongue. Hitting too hard or not lifting up immediately after playing a note might sound clunking. Instead, lifting it off the tine immediately after playing every note will produce a clear tone. The faster, the better. 

  4. There is an acoustic 'sweet spot' on each tongue of the steel drum. You can find it by playing different parts of the tongue, and the spot usually is around the middle, close to the tip. 

  5. Also, you can remove the rubber lid underneath the drum; it changes the sound a little bit. It's up to you to decide which sound you prefer. 

  6. To play a more balanced and pleasing piece. When playing the lower notes, use less force because the tines are bigger; a little pressure will make enough vibration for a big volume. On the contrary, when playing the high notes, you need to add a little force to play, so the volume of high notes can match the bass.

In addition, the last two notes on the tongue drum are the hardest to play. (Especially for the Zani drum, its material has a lower density than others; slightly incorrect posture or hand position will stop the sound). Also, the high notes on the mini tongue drum required more skill to play due to its size. So following the above tips will help with the high notes. Although they won't sound as good as other big tines, they will be improved significantly with some practice 🥰