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  • Drume Music

Steel Tongue Drum or Handpan?

Updated: Aug 31

It's not that simple to find the instrument that works for you. Do you wish to purchase a steel tongue drum or a handpan? Which manufacturer do you pick, what size, what kind of material, what frequency, and how long until you can finally hold it in your hands? We want to make the difficult task of selecting the best instrument for you simpler. You may find a range of musical instruments (handpans and steel tongue drums) in our handpan shop from various manufacturers, tunings, and materials. All instruments are testable, and most can be bought right away.

If you want some knowledge in advance, we've compared some fundamental details, distinctions, as well as the benefits and drawbacks of steel tongue drums and handpans for you in a compressed version.

Steel Tongue Drum

A steel tongue drum's sound field is laser- or cut-into-the-instrument. Handpans are often smaller, while steel tongue drums are heavier. They resonate much longer than handpans and are constructed of thicker steel. They have a tranquil, peaceful sound.


  • extremely affordable (buying price is roughly one-third of a handpan)

  • very strong, can not detune

  • can be played with mallets

  • not sensitive to temperature

  • smaller and more portable


  • lower volume of sound than a handpan

  • compared to a handpan, the notes' playing area is smaller (you have to hit more accurately)


A handpan's sound field is produced by the hammer. Compared to steel tongue drums, handpans have a louder, richer sound that is mesmerizing.


  • bigger note fields make it simpler to hit

  • louder, more resonant

  • is significantly louder than a steel tongue drum and can still be clearly heard even in noisy environments

  • light

  • Variety, more manufacturers, materials, and scale options


  • more expensive than a steel tongue drum

  • more delicate, heat-sensitive, and more easily detuned

  • must be tweaked frequently (depending on the type of game, handling, manufacturer and material)

The differences between a steel tongue drum and a handpan

Despite apparent similarities, they are essentially two entirely different musical instruments. While tongue drums have a sound that is more akin to a blur with a lengthy sustain, pantams have a more clear tone, magical dazzling ceramic, and smooth sound. While tongue drums are recognized for only more slow and meditative playing, handpans are produced from a variety of materials that make them suited for a variety of playing styles and environment vibes, from indoor quick professional playing to outside slow meditation techniques. Additionally, handpans can be more versatile than tongue drums; for instance, a handpan can produce up to 22 notes, whereas the number of notes on a tongue drum is constrained.

Tongue drums are often smaller than Handpans (hang drums), but they weigh a lot more due to the thicker steel used to make them. The normal size range for handpans is 18 to 23 inches; however, a little handpan (mini handpan) can occasionally be smaller than a tongue drum while still being much lighter and producing a distinctive sound.

Handpans cost considerably more than tongue drums since they are much more difficult to make, but as was stated at the beginning, these two instruments are very different, thus paying less does not guarantee that you will receive the same item.

Tone Fields

This is the point at which the differences between tongue drums and handpans become apparent. The notes you play or the tone field will appear entirely different. The steel tongue drum tongues will be cut into the steel in a variety of shapes, unlike the handpan, which has dings and dimples without any piercing of the steel.

Overall, comparing handpans and tongue drums is similar to comparing apples and oranges, both of which are spherical and almost identical in shape but are entirely different fruits with distinct tastes and nutritional values. We wish to advise that if you are interested in handpans, you should get one and never assume that you can find anything comparable for less money. Similar to how you could be interested in mouth drums, a handpan is not an option in this situation.


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