Joy and sunshine in a musical instrument – Steel Drums for Sale in 2016

 

If you are tempted to try playing a musical instrument that many people find exotic then a steel drum is your perfect answer. If the humble violin or guitar seems dull then that’s a charge that you can’t lay at the feet of a steel drum. As with any instrument is important to find the best steel drum for sale available, see our picks below.

The sound of a steel drum band always reminds listeners of tropical beaches, sunshine and cool drinks by a pool.

The steel drum has its own distinctive sound and is far more than a piece of metal being hit to make a sound! It is joy delivered in a musical instrument.

Plus, as anyone who has ever seen The Little Mermaid will know steel drums provide the rhythm for Under the Sea and this instrument is a brilliant way to introduce children to music.

Which steel drums for sale would suit you?

Here are some examples to help you make a choice if you want to join the carnival and the great news is that you don’t already need to be a musical expert to play the steel drum instrument, the producers make it simple to learn and you’re sure to sound great. No, really, you will.

Pros

  • The Jumbie Jam Steel Drum Musical Instrument is reputedly the worlds best beginners steel drum for sale.
  • These instruments are set in the key of G and give a realistic “palm tree image” inducing sound – mallets are included.
  • It’s easy to learn and new learners don’t need to be able to read music, the songbook, play along CD and guide help to make picking up and practicing pieces more accessible by offering simple instructions so whether you are young or old, confident or a first time musical learner this will suit you.
  • The notes are clearly marked.
  • The Jumbie Jam steel drum musical instrument is collapsible so that it can be stored away quickly and conveniently, nobody is really going to want a steel drum in their way all of the time!
  • It’s height adjustable with feet to bear its 3.2kg weight.
  • The packaging has a carrying handle so even moving it is easy.

Cons

  • The feet can look a little weak compared to the instrument and the stand wobbles a little.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a-VbIrK2ItQ
  • Sound 78%
  • Design 75%
  • Quality 73%

Pros

  • Made by Hearthsong this steel drum is excellent for beginners.
  • It is fun to play.
  • Bright and easy to see red powder coated design.
  • Clearly marked notes.
  • Provided with mallets and a wooden stand.
  • Skirt with protected edges.

Cons

  • There are no cons for the product range and expected quality for the price tag.

 

 

  • Sound 84%
  • Design 75%
  • Quality 85%

Pros

  • As you’d expect from the title, the item comes with a table/desk stop stand and it includes the mallets.
  • The drum has a diameter of 40 centimeters and a depth of 6.5 centimeters.
  • It weighs 1.38 kilograms and it comes in a strong box with a carrying handle for ease of movement.
  • It is in the key of G and notes are clearly marked. It offers a mellow sound.
  • A beginner’s guide is provided to help steel drum musical instrument learners.
  • Reviewers have called it a value for money purchase.

 

Cons

  • Although it has been called value for money this is not necessarily the case if you are buying it for a child who may, heaven forbid, not have the talent or application to keep practicing.
  • Some users think it is very loud so if you have neighbours who may object, think carefully about your instrument choice.
  • Not suitable for professional steel drum players.

  • Sound 79%
  • Design 84%
  • Quality 88%

How and when were steel drums invented?

They were invented in Trinidad around the time of World War 2 but their roots lie with the African slaves transported to the Caribbean to work on Spanish and French owned plantations. Their music was a way for the poverty stricken to remember their homeland and the tradition of drum playing.

 

They were invented in Trinidad around the time of World War 2 but their roots lie with the African slaves transported to the Caribbean to work on Spanish and French owned plantations. Their music was a way for the poverty stricken to remember their homeland and the tradition of drum playing.

This actually scared their owners who felt that the freedom to play their drum beats meted out by the lethal weaponry of bamboo sticks would incite the slaves to riot and that somehow the rhythms that were being made were forming messages between the slave communities so they limited when and for long steel drum playing could take place and each time an instrument was banned by a slave owner the slaves simply invented a new one. They weren’t going to be outdone.

 

The rhythms that underpinned the music produced hundred of years ago are commonly used in the percussion section of present day steel bands and from humble private origins the music these African’s brought with them to their new country has exploded in to a popular cultural sound for the entire Caribbean.

 

In the 1930’s people formed steel bands with instruments made from biscuit tins, petrol cans, dustbins and tin pans and from these “pan bands” and “iron bands” the steel drum band as we know it was born as people discovered that the pitch of the metal altered when it was beaten.

Unfortunately, carnivals were banned in Trinidad and Tobago during World War 2 and playing was restricted to private spaces like yards.

Trinidadians Elliott (Ellie) Mannette, born in 1926, Winston “Spree” Simon, 1930-1976, and Antony (Tony) Williams, born in 1931, were at the forefront of the evolution of the steel drum. In fact, they are widely credited as pioneers of this musical instrument.

 

In 1951 at the Festival of Britain these three men were part of a steel band combined from various Trinidad and Tobago based bands who were chosen to play on 26th July. They called themselves TASPO, the Trinidad All Steel Percussion Orchestra. This introduced steel bands to the wider world.

What are steel drums made out of?

In the Caribbean they prefer to call the steel drum musical instruments steel pans or pans for short, in the U.S.A. they are more commonly known as steel drums but these instruments are the same.

The steel drum is the only percussion instrument that was invented in the 20th century. The early steel drum instruments were made from small metal containers and were convex shaped, they were easy to carry in one hand and to beat a rhythm with the other. They had no defined pitches or notes until the 1940’s and 50’s when musicians improved the tuning by trial, error and ingenuity.

 

Today’s steel drums for sale belong to the percussion family of instruments and the idiophone group as total vibration is the primary method for making music. The musicians are known as pannists, panmen or panists. There is no standard way to make the instrument, it is a highly specialised technique and rather competitive in innovations.

What kind of drum is used to make a steel pan?

Steel drum instruments were traditionally made from the base of 45-55 gallon oil or chemical drum barrels in a concave shape and tuned with finesse. The metal work is one sheet of between 0.8mm and 1.5mm thickness and these days specialist steel drums are made to order by manufacturers.

In the process called sinking the sheet metal is formed in to a bowl normally with hammers and air pressure. The notes are marked on the drum and moulded on to the surface in different sizes. The larger the size of the oval the lower the note that the steel drum instrument will play.

 

Pans vary in size and pitch range and they regularly come in four sizes in a band called ping pong, guitar pan, cellopan and boom.

Variations include a drum with only three base notes which means that one person can play six drums at the same time (that’s a big ask!) or the cylindrical section of the drum known as a skirt can be removed and the drum then has the capacity to play around thirty notes in the soprano range. The length of a skirt on the steel drum musical instrument directly correlates to the tessitura, in other words, the high or low ranging of the instrument.

 

Following the construction, the steel drum instruments are softened and tuned professionally by hammer with the assistance of an electronic strobe tuner. Common finishes for the steel pan are chrome or nickel plating and powder coating.

There is a vast array of multicoloured and eye catching steel drums for sale, musical instruments are allowed to have personalities too! So, if you want one in a specific colour, chances are that you’ll find it – red, blue, purple, yellow, steel grey and black are the most commonly sourced.

The use of excessive force and over enthusiasm may make the instrument lose its pitch and many steel drum bands and orchestras have routine retuning at least once or twice a year.

 

Another method for making the steel drum instrument is spinning, in this process the drum is spun on a lathe but the thin nature of the metal plus the action means that cracks and scratches often appear and these affect pitch which means additional brazing to correct any defects. Metal pressing machines were tried in the past but these were not popular with the residents of Trinidad and Tobago and were abandoned as a manufacturing process.

 

Electronic steel drums have been developed and patented for those who prefer to play electronic instruments.

Jamaican steel drums

The steel drum musical instrument was responsible for moulding popular dancehall and reggae styles and influencing musical progress in Jamaica. Steel drum bands are normally located in hotels, restaurants and casinos, hired for celebratory occasions and carnivals all over the island.

The University of the West Indies formed their first steel drum band in the 1970’s. It was called the Panoridum Band and they helped other bands to form. Steel drum playing is a popular subject in schools, the church also enjoys the joyful musical style, and while steel drums were not created in Jamaica many people believe that they are part of the culture and heritage of Jamaica.

The musical members of a steel drum band

Obviously in any form of music, most particularly Calypso for steel drum bands, there are a variety of notes played to make the music lyrical and melodic and so different steel drums are employed to give listeners and players the best range of pitches.

 

The single tenor, also known as a ping pong, the spiderweb lead and the invader lead are soprano. The double tenor pan is a mezzosoprano, the double second is alto, the double guitar, triple guitar, quadduet, cello and quadraphonic drums are baritone. The tenor bass, six bass, nine bass and twelve bass are bass.

 

Obviously in any form of music, most particularly Calypso for steel drum bands, there are a variety of notes played to make the music lyrical and melodic and so different steel drums are employed to give listeners and players the best range of pitches.

 

The single tenor, also known as a ping pong, the spiderweb lead and the invader lead are soprano. The double tenor pan is a mezzosoprano, the double second is alto, the double guitar, triple guitar, quadduet, cello and quadraphonic drums are baritone. The tenor bass, six bass, nine bass and twelve bass are bass.

 

There are over a thousand steel drum bands situated around the world, including approximately 250 in the U.S.A., over 300 in the U.K. and Trinidad has almost 200 bands.

Orchestras have performed at Carnegie Hall, the Royal Albert Hall and steel drums are an integral part of the Notting Hill Carnival in London.

The take up rate of college students in the U.S.A. for courses in how to play the steel drum musical instrument is constantly rising and electronic devices have provided another resource for study. A recent trend is the solo player, rather than being part of a steel drum band some performers have reached fame by working alone, an example of this is Chris Arpad.

Since 1992 the steel drum has been the official musical instrument of Trinidad and Tobago.
It may surprise you to know that the Swiss, Japanese and Swedish are learning to love and play steel drum music.

Now that you are a Steel Drums expert  it’s time to pick one and start playing. It’s really fun and engaging instrument to start learning fast and a great choice to share music with all the family.
Let the summer begging!