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Wooden Tongue Drum vs. steel Tongue Drum: which one to choose?

Wooden Tongue Drum vs Steel Tongue Drum

Have you ever wondered which musical instrument to choose between a wooden Tongue Drum and a steel Tongue Drum? Both instruments offer unique and captivating sounds, and it can be difficult to decide which one is best suited to your needs. In this article, we’ll explore the differences between these two types of Tongue Drum, highlighting their respective advantages and disadvantages.

Whether you’re a beginner looking to discover new musical horizons or an experienced musician in search of a high-quality instrument, this article will help you make an informed decision. Get ready to dive into the fascinating world of Tongue Drums and discover which model is right for you: the wooden Tongue Drum or the steel Tongue Drum.

Features of the wooden Tongue Drum

​The Tongue Drum, also known as the Log Drum or Slit Drum, is a musical instrument that takes its name from its shape and structure. Made from solid wood, it offers an exceptional musical experience. Indeed, it can be handcrafted, each model has a unique sound.

The wooden Tongue Drum is distinguished by its warm, natural aesthetic. The wood used can vary from bamboo to maple to other species. This diversity of woods not only gives the Tongue Drum a visually appealing appearance, but also makes it possible to create variations in the sound emitted.

In terms of sound, the Tongue Drum in wood produces soft, melodious tones. The blades, or “tongues”, are precision-cut from the wood, creating different degrees of resonance. This offers musicians a wide variety of notes and scales in which to play. The wooden Tongue Drum is often appreciated for its soothing, relaxing character.

The benefits of steel Tongue Drum

The steel Tongue Drum offers a more metallic, punchy sound. It is preferred by those seeking a more lively tone, and who wish to bring out stronger accents in their playing. The choice between the wooden Tongue Drum and the steel Tongue Drum will therefore depend on the musical style sought and the musician’s individual preferences.

One of the main advantages of the steel Tongue Drum is its durability. Unlike wood, steel is much more resistant to impact and temperature changes. This means you don’t have to worry as much about damage or deformation due to intensive use or extreme weather conditions. Steel also offers greater resonance and sound amplitude, resulting in a deeper, richer sound.

Another advantage of the Steel Tongue Drum is its versatility. With a wide range of notes and tones available, it allows players to explore different musical ranges and create unique melodies. The disadvantage compared to the wooden model is that they are industrial products often made in factories.

MaterialType of soundUse
WoodWarm, natural soundsYoga, meditation, music therapy
SteelClear, resonant tonesCultural music, meditation
Comparative table of Tongue Drum types – Wood and Steel

Sound comparison: wood vs. steel

When it comes to choosing a Tongue Drum, the material of manufacture is an essential aspect to consider. The wooden Tongue Drum offers a warm and soothing sound, ideal for meditation and relaxation. Thanks to its natural characteristics, wood provides a soft, pleasant resonance that envelops the listener in a harmonious atmosphere.

In contrast, the steel Tongue Drum offers a more percussive and mesmerizing sound. Its metallic material produces clearer, longer notes, offering a unique sound experience. Steel also allows a greater variety of tones and timbres, enabling musicians to play more complex and expressive melodies.

However, the choice between the Wooden Tongue Drum and the Steel Tongue Drum will essentially depend on your personal preferences and intended use. If you’re looking for a relaxing, soothing musical experience, the wooden Tongue Drum will be the ideal choice. On the other hand, if you prefer more dynamic and intense sounds, the steel Tongue Drum will be more suited to your needs.

Which is more durable: wood or steel?

In terms of durability, steel often has the edge. It is more resistant to shock, temperature variations and humidity. A steel Tongue Drum can therefore be transported and used in a variety of conditions without risk of major damage. What’s more, steel has superior longevity, meaning your Tongue Drum will remain in good condition for many years to come.

However, this doesn’t mean that wood should be ruled out out of hand. When properly cared for, a wooden Tongue Drum can also be very durable. Wood offers a warm, natural resonance that can be much appreciated by some musicians. What’s more, certain types of wood, such as acacia or ash, are renowned for their robustness and weather resistance. So, if you’re prepared to invest time and money in maintaining your wooden Tongue Drum, it can be just as durable as its steel counterpart.

The impact of materials on the sound of the Tongue Drum

The wooden Tongue Drum offers a deep, warm tone. Wood, as a natural material, offers natural resonance and a particularly rich sound. Vibrations propagate through the wood fibers, creating a unique, soothing sound. What’s more, wood allows for a wide variety of tonalities, offering a broad palette of musical expression.

As for the steel Tongue Drum, it produces a more brilliant and metallic sound. Steel gives a sharper, clearer resonance, which is ideal for outdoor use or to bring a modern touch to your music. What’s more, thanks to its sturdiness, the steel Tongue Drum is an interesting choice for musicians on the move.

Design and aesthetics: wood versus steel

The wooden Tongue Drum offers a warm, natural appearance that can be very appealing to many musicians. Wood adds an organic touch to the instrument, creating a softer, more relaxing ambience. What’s more, wood is often considered a sustainable and environmentally-friendly material, which can be an important aspect for those looking to reduce their ecological footprint.

On the other hand, the steel Tongue Drum presents a more modern and contemporary look. Steel offers a glossy, smooth finish that can be very appealing to those who prefer a sleeker, more minimalist design. Steel is also known for its durability and weather resistance, making it an ideal option for those wishing to play outdoors.

Photo d'un Tongue Drum en bois WookPack® - Crédit Photo Tomáš bartaloš
Photo of a WookPack® wooden Tongue Drum – Photo Credit Tomáš Bartaloš

Budget: Wooden or steel Tongue Drum?

When it comes to acquiring a musical instrument, price is also an important criterion to consider. Tongue drums are sold in music stores or over the Internet. Prices vary according to the characteristics of each model. Indeed, some instruments are handmade, while others are factory-made and imported from Asia.

Wooden Drum Tongues start from $290.00 for small factory-made models, up to $1490.00 for large handcrafted instruments.

Steel Drum Tongues start at $50.00 for mini instruments. Larger HandPan models sell for $1450.00.

If possible, choose handcrafted Drum Tongues, for their unique, warm sound.

Price comparison table for wooden and steel Drum Tongues

Tongue Drum typeSizePriceRecommended products
Wood, factory-madeSmallBetween $290 and $490⭐️⭐️⭐️
Wood, handcraftedMediumBetween $490 and $590⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Steel, factory-madeSmallBetween $50 and $290⭐️⭐️⭐️
Steel, factory-madeMediumBetween $290 and $490⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Price examples for Tongues Drum in wood and steel

Play experience: wood vs. steel

As we saw earlier, these two types of Tongues Drum are quite different in design. Every musician with a unique sensibility will find something to suit his or her taste, thanks to the many models on the market.

Tongues Drums playing position

Whether wooden or steel instruments, the playing positions are actually very similar. Tongues drums can be set up on a table or stand, or simply placed on the lap. The percussion instrument is usually played seated, but wooden models can be used upright.

Playing Tongue Drum with mallets

Mallets, called mallets, are used to tap the Tongues Drum and produce sounds. These are wooden mallets about 30cm long with a ball at the rubber end. This produces a sound by tapping on the drum without damaging the instrument.

This type of playing is the most common and the easiest to learn for beginning musicians. It is suitable for wooden or steel Tongue Drums.

Playing the Tongue Drum with your fingers

Tongue drumming simply using your fingers is also possible in wood or steel versions. This way of playing music is perfectly suited to percussion instruments. Indeed, it allows for a more natural and organic relationship.

This set is ideal for meditation sessions and being in perfect communion with your instrument. Touch becomes a sense that allows you to feel the vibrations of the sounds created.

Photo illustrant un musicien jouant du Tongue Drum en bois avec ses mains
Photo of a musician playing a wooden Tongue Drum with his hands

Which Tongue Drum best suits your needs?

In conclusion, whether you opt for the Tongue Drum in wood or steel, you’re sure to be seduced by the unique sounds these instruments can produce. Trust your preferences and instincts to choose the one that will best resonate with your environment and playing style. Whether for relaxation or to express your musical creativity, these instruments are sure to deliver an exceptional sound experience.

Ultimately, the choice between the wooden and steel Tongue Drum depends on your personal preferences. If you’re looking for a deeper sound and superior durability, the steel Tongue Drum is the best option. If you prefer a softer, more organic sound, the wooden Tongue Drum may be more suited to your needs. Either way, both types of Tongue Drum offer a unique and rewarding musical experience.


What are the main differences between wooden and steel Drum Tongues?

Wooden and steel Tongue Drums vary in sound, material and use. Wooden drums offer warm tones, appealing to those who like natural vibrations. Steel drums, on the other hand, last longer and have a clearer sound. They are ideal for yoga and meditation, and are available in a wide range of sizes.

What materials are used to make Tongues Drum?

Wooden Drum Tongues are made from hardwoods, highlighting their cultural roots. Steel Drum Tongues are made from alloys, offering durability and lively sound. The material determines the sound and style of the drum.

What are the advantages of a wooden Tongue Drum?

Wooden Drum Tongues offer a unique sound and a traditional look. Their warmth and natural echo are perfect for sound therapy. Lovers of classical instruments and professional musicians often choose wood.

What are the advantages of steel Drum Tongues?

Steel Drum Tongues are distinguished by their durability and clear sound. They adapt to different musical styles thanks to their modern appearance and tuning. They are ideal for anyone looking for a durable instrument.

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