Frequently Asked Questions

1. What Are Steel Tongue Drums?
2. Who Can Play A Steel Tongue Drum?
3. Are Steel Tongue Drums Safe?
4. Tell Me More About Kindred Spirit Drums!
5. Tell Me About Your Monthly Contest And Donations!
6. What Is The Environmental Impact?
7. What Is The Difference In The Models?
8. Where Can I Hear Your Instruments?
9. Where Can I See You Instruments?
10. How Can I Purchase An Instrument?
11. What Are The Dimensions Of Your Steel Tongue Drums?
12. What Are The Shipping Charges?
13. Do you have a return policy?
14. Do you offer pick-ups with your instruments?
15. What Accessories Do You Offer?
16. How Do I Care For My Instrument?
17. How Do I Play My Steel Tongue Drum?
18. How Do I Record My Steel Tongue Drum?
19. How Do I Mic My Steel Tongue Drum?

1. What Are Steel Tongue Drums?

Steel Tongue Drums are a steel percussion instrument that relies on the oscillation of cut tongues of different sizes to create the notes of a scale. The steel tongue drum had several predecessors, most notably the Whale Drum by Jim Doble and the Tambiro by Felle Vega. In February 2007 Dennis Havlena, inspired by the physical properties of the Tambiro and the tone layout of the Hang, created a steel tongue drum with a circular cross pattern layout and from an empty 20-pound propane tank. Steel Tongue Drums are similar to, but are not handpans.

2. Who Can Play A Steel Tongue Drum?

Anyone of any age, or any musical ability can play a Steel Tongue Drum and make it sound pleasant. They don't require any training, and are as simple as picking up a mallet, striking a note and beginning to create music.

We don't recommend our instruments for children under 5 as young-ones tend to have a desire to put the mallets in their mouths. However many parents buy them to play for and with newborns and toddlers. If you do decide to use a Steel Tongue Drum around children, please be vigilant.

3. Are Steel Tongue Drums Safe?

Steel Tongue Drums are generally quite safe but there are some precautions you should take into consideration if you own or are considering owning one:

Steel Tongue Drums are heavy (5 kilo's/10 lbs) and can cause severe damage to people or property if dropped on them.  Be careful and make sure your hands are free of grease/water before attempting to pick up your instrument. This will ensure you have a solid grip on the drum and you will not inadvertently drop it on anything or anyone.

Do not leave young-children unattended with the mallets provided with the drums, and absolutely do not allow your child to put the mallets in their mouth.

Although we preform our due-diligence when we produce our products, there is always a danger that a mallet-head could come off and it could become lodged in an airway leading to severe injury or death. Never leave your child unattended with the mallets.

Do not leave young-children unattended with the optional magnets you can purchase with your instrument.

Magnets can become lodged in the intestinal tract of children and cause severe illness that can lead to extensive surgery and death. Never leave your child alone with the optional magnets.

Kindred Spirit Drums accepts no responsibility for incidents of damage or injury caused by the misuse or neglectful supply of our products to young children.

Use common sense!  Stay safe!

4. Tell Me More About Kindred Spirit Steel Tongue Drums!

Our Steel Tongue Drums are made in our workshop, which is located in Roberts Creek on the Sunshine Coast in British Columbia Canada. We strive to use as much recycled material in our production techniques as possible and are determined to have the smallest environmental foot-print we possibly can.

Each drum is fabricated with a particular scale, and then given a highly durable and water-proof finish, before being fine-tuned with a tuning program. Your instrument also has a fitted wooden plug and optional internal dampening system to increase the overall sound quality. Our drums can be made with a variety of scales in either Single-Sided (8, 9 or 10 note models) or Double-Sided (18 note or 20 note models), in 432 or 440 Hertz frequencies. We have the Ascension Series, Relics Series, and Primordial Series available at this time.

You can find more information on our different products here.

5. Tell Me About Your Monthly Contests And Donations!

At Kindred Spirit Drums we do our best to make our instruments accessible with competitive pricing, a monthly contest that anyone can enter, and our "Drum Donation Initiative" which is a drum donated to individuals who meet certain criteria (disability, low income, etc). There is a "Drum Donation Application Form" which can be downloaded here and then emailed/mailed to us.

You can also explore our past contests and the drum donation initiative here.

Monthly contests can be found on our Facebook Page.

6. What Is The Environmental Impact?

Our Steel Tongue Drums are made from recycled materials, and we strive to use as much re-purposed materials in our production as possible. There is very little waste produced in their construction, and all the excess metal we create gets recycled. We use a powder-coat to protect our instruments which is a dry powder that is baked on, and is similar to an enamel. There are no aerosols, or oils used in their production or finish.

All the waste from our workshop is sorted into appropriate categories to be recycled/disposed of in the most environmentally friendly way we can manage.

7. What Is The Difference Between The Series/Types?

The difference between the series is size, lay-out and ornamentation, which allows for a unique playing experience for each one. Though they are all comparable in sound quality, the main points are:

The Ascension series is one of our most ornate, with the most options to choose from.
The Mandala series has our most intricate etching, with round tongues.
The Primordial series is our most economic model for those wanting an instrument that is more budget friendly.
The Manadala Mini is only available in the flute combination
The Primordial Mini is our smallest most transportable instrument, but only available in a few scales.

8. Where Can I Hear Your Instruments?

You can hear specific recordings of scales on our sound models page to help you make an informed choice on your purchase.  You can also check out our Media Gallery, and Sound Cloud Page for more!

9. Where Can I See You Instruments?

You can view our products on our homepage, or there is a wealth of photos in our media gallery.

10. How Can I Purchase An Instrument?

Please go to the homepage to see all of our products.  We also have a presence on Etsy, and Amazon.  If you are a retailer looking to carry our instruments, please proceed to the wholesale section of this FAQ

11. What Are The Dimensions Of Your Instruments?

Primordial Mini (8 Notes) - 8" - Smallest instrument we offer, very transportable, high and warm scales.
Mandala Mini (6 Notes) - 9.5" - Transportable, but only available in Pentatonic scales in flute combinations.
Primordial Standard (8 Notes) - 12" -  Most economic model, available in lots of scales.
Mandala Standard (10 Notes) - 12" - Large mandala etching, round-cut tongues, lots of scales.
Ascension Series (8/9/10 Notes) - 12" - Flower/Feather etchings, pointed tongues.
Atlas Series - Available Soon!
Handpan/Sound Sculptures - Available Soon!

12. What Are The Shipping Costs For Your Instruments?

You can get a general idea of shipping costs here, and the check-out feature of our shop has a shipping calculator (Though you must have an instrument in your cart to get a shipping estimate).

13. Do You Have A Return Policy?

Yes, we have a return policy and your satisfaction is guaranteed. Should your instrument be damaged, an incorrect order, or you are unhappy with the workmanship we can exchange or refund you for your purchase. If you would like to exchange your instrument that is also possible.

Please view our full returns policy here, and contact us if you have any more questions.

14. Do You Offer Pick-Ups With Your Instruments?

Currently we do not offer pick-ups, but we are experimenting with various types and their positioning in our instruments, attempting to find the best system that is still cost effective. Though we have not yet found one that surpasses a good condensor microphone in sound quality, we hope to have something available soon.

15. What Accessories Do You Offer?

Currently we are sourcing cases, mic's, magnets and a few other things. We should have our shop updated soon with all these new items.

16. How Do I Care For My Instrument?

To care for your instrument, please:

1.  Avoid playing your Steel Tongue Drum extremely aggressively with the mallets. This can cause the tongues to bend and experience “Metal Fatigue” which can cause the tongues to fall out of tune. We suggest gentle playing with the mallets, or using the hands/fingers/thumbs. The ideal tone is accessed when the instrument is played gently. Remember to move your striking instrument away quickly so as not to stop the sounding of the notes early. Soft contact, and quick release is the key to keeping your instrument happy.  *It is suggested that if you are attempting to play at comparable volumes to other loud instruments that you mic your Steel Tongue Drum.

2. Your drum is very tough, but it is susceptible to scratches and dings if rubbed against abrasive surfaces, or dropped. Please remove all hand jewelry such as rings and bracelets before playing with your hands to prevent scratches.

3. Avoid exposing the drum to extremes in temperature. For instance: Hot cars in the summer, snow, saunas. If the instrument experiences a rapid change in temperature it may fall out of tune.

4. Washing/Cleaning: Generally you can clean your drum with Windex, or other gentle cleaners and a damp cloth. Your instrument has been powder-coated, so it is relatively impermeable against moisture. We suggest using a light touch-up of clear nail-polish to coat any scratches it may experience. Due to the nature of powder-coat used, the instrument cannot be re-coated if it gets scratched. However, if you treat it well it will last you a lifetime!

5. If fine rust begins to form at the base of the tongue where we have fine-tuned your instrument please take a small piece of 120 grit sandpaper and lightly sand the inside of the tongue. Re-coat with a metal rust paint of your choice and clean up any spillage with a non-acetone based nail-polish remover.

17. How Do I Play My Steel Tongue Drum?

Tutorial videos can be found here.

Steel Tongue Drums are meant for melodic expression and the free exploration of music, so we highly encourage you to find your own playing style. There are many different ways to play these drums, and many different styles of connecting with them.  Fast or slow, you can play with mallets, thumbs, palms, finger-tips, anything that you see fit.  They are incredibly versatile!

Here are a few tips to help you a long the way:

1. Play your instrument with gentle strikes with the mallet, or your hands. The ideal tone is accessed when the instrument is played softly. Soft contact, and quick release is the trick.

2. An instrument that is struck too hard can experience “Note Fatigue” and the tongues could fall out of tune. Always play your drum gently. Kindred Spirit Drums is not responsible for drums that have been treated poorly.

3. When playing with the thumbs and finger-tips specifically, it is not in the down “strike” that creates the ideal tone but in the speed that the digit/mallet is pulled up and off the tongue to prevent it being muted.  Any strength of stroke with this “quick-release” technique will give you a clear and crisp note.

4. Once you have the desired sound, begin to create patterns counting out the beats, such as 1-2-3-4 1-2-3-4, 1-2-3 1-2-3, etc. Try speeding up and slowing down smoothly, striking 2-3 notes at the same time to creat chords, different styles of mallets, pausing and allowing space to enter your melody, experiment with every different way to play that you can!

18. How Do I Record My Steel Tongue Drum?

For at home recordings the Zoom brand of personal recorders work very well, and is what we use for our recordings on our website (A Zoom H4N specifically). You'll want to experiment with the distance of the recorder to your instrument, in combination with how you have the instrument placed on the ground/lap to get the best sound.

*If the mic is too close you may get feedback or have your recording clip, as Steel Tongue Drums produce a lot of sound.

19. How Do I Mic My Steel Tongue Drum?

Experiment by having the Mic above/below and set up around until you have the desired sound you are looking for. We would suggest condensor mics for studio environments and dynamic mics for live events where there may be ambient sounds.  If you have the mic placed under your drum near the sound hole, you will get a more bass orientated sound, and if you place it near the top you will hear more of the finger/mallet strikes on the tongues. Explore until you are able to find the best sound for your playing style.

*If the mic is too close you may get feedback or have your recording clip, as Steel Tongue Drums produce a lot of sound.

We will have links to some mics we suggest here.