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About Pappy's Drums


How Pappy's Steel Tongue Drums are Made

Pappy's steel drums are custom made from recycled steel tanks.  The top and bottom of the tanks are removed, center ring set aside, then the  top and bottom are attached to each other.  Others will attach the top and bottom using different types of epoxy, but Pappy's steel drums are welded together then the seam is ground until it is smooth.  I believe that welding the seam improves the overall sound of the drum.  A 4" to 5 diameter hole is cut into the bottom to allow tones to escape out of the drum.  Tongues are laid out and cut.   I make drums to several different scales so layout varies.  After each tongue is cut they are individually tuned.  The next step is final metal finishing and a minimum of three coats of acrylic lacquer.   I use a few different metal finishes that include heat treating, paint, natural rusting, and my homemade metal patina dye solutions.  Every drum is different and unique in its own way. Since I use old steel tanks some have a smooth finish all over while others are pitted due to the weathering of the metal.  The amount of pitting may be slight on one drum and cover a large area on another one.  The pitting has become more popular as many believe that it adds an identity to each drum. Others like the earthy look and some like that it shows age, believing that it adds wisdom to the drum.  The amount of pitting on the metal does not affect the sound of your drum since every tongue on every drum is tuned individually.

You will will be able to choose a specific color, scale, finish, or note layout.  Contact me so we can create your one-of-a-kind customized drum together!

Should you decide to try to make your own drum, use caution.  The tank must be bled of whatever gas had been stored in the tank, valve properly removed, and tank flushed before any metal working operations - or you might wake the neighbors!


What is a Tongue Drum?

A tongue drum is a musical drum that has parts of the exterior cut, or slit, to provide for a certain sound when the user strikes a portion of the drum.  These drums are often made of metal or wood.  Usually, then way a tongue drum is set up, striking various parts of the drum will provide different tones for the percussion.  The steel tongue drum is also known as a Tank drum or Hang drum.  It was invented by Dennis Havlena in 2007.  Dennis names his version of the tongue drum a Hank Drum (Hang and Tank combined).  It's worth noting that before the Hank Drum was invented there were a number of forerunners.  

Do you need any special talent to play the tongue drum?

One of the greatest things about this invention is that it doesn't require any particular skill to play it.  Anybody can play the steel tongue drum.  You can play it drum using your hands or mallets.  However, if you want the sound to be loud, you need to play it with the mallets or sticks.  The steel drum isn't limited to a single musical scale; it can be chromatic, pentatonic, or diatonic.  The pentatonic scales are most frequently used for tuning, but due to the uniqueness of this invention, it can also be tuned to the chromatic and diatomic scales.