Where to buy a steel tongue drum?
You've decided to buy a steel tongue drum! And very often in this case questions arise: How can I be sure to buy it in the right place? Which professional should I contact to have a choice? Should I go to a music shop or buy it on the internet? And above all, how can I avoid unpleasant surprises?When you are new to musical instruments, it is always interesting to get advice before buying your instrument. And when it comes to steel tongue drums today, there are many possibilities available to you, depending on your consumption habits, the type of musical practice envisaged and your expectations concerning the instrument itself.
With this article Metal Sounds guides you to buy a tongue drum with peace of mind. The aim is to explain the different options available to you and the pitfalls to avoid in order to make an informed choice.
Buying my steel tongue drum from a manufacturer
Buying your tongue drum directly from a manufacturer is an option that has many advantages. In addition to the positive environmental aspect of buying "locally", you will be able to talk directly with the instrument maker. He will also let you try out several models and you will get as much information as possible about your future tongue drum, according to your needs. With some manufacturers, specific requests, such as tuning to a certain pitch (432Hz for example), or customising your tank drum, are also possible.
Another interesting point is that when a customer visits a manufacturer and is interested in their work, it is not uncommon for them to make a commercial gesture, depending on the nature of the exchange. So if you are lucky enough to have a steel tongue drum maker near you, and if you have time, check out their website first to see if their instruments inspire you, if their prices fit your budget and if so, don't hesitate to contact them!
And on this occasion - just like when you contact a handpan maker (see the article "Where to buy a handpan") - don't hesitate to ask yourself the following questions:
- How long has this craftsman been making steel tongue drums? (The idea is to check that he is experienced, that he has qualified know-how)
- Is it possible to meet him easily and try out the tongue drums in his workshop?
- Does he offer a wide enough range of products for me to choose from?
- Is he serious, professional, reassuring and engaging?
- Is he trying to sell me a tongue drum at all costs? (Beware, a fire sale is never a good sign)
- What guarantees does he give me (on the instrument, shipping, maintenance, after-sales service, etc.)?
This list of questions is not exhaustive. Do not hesitate to ask any questions you may have. The manufacturer must listen to you, provide you with clear answers, and give you sound advice!
Buy my steel tongue drum in a physical shop
Good news for those of you who like to shop around! There are more and more steel tongue drums available in music shops.
You will have two main options:
- Buy your tongue drum in a music shop
Obviously you won't find a tongue drum as easily as a guitar in a general music shop, but more and more of them have them on their shelves! The big advantage is that you can take some time to discover the instrument, and try it out before buying it. But be careful about the quality of the instruments on offer! Take the time to find out about the tongue drum and ask the seller questions about its origin, material, tuning and the level of after-sales service in case of problems.
- Buying your tongue drum from a retailer
The democratization and success of the steel tongue drum means that this melodic percussion instrument is also beginning to appear in this type of store!
Thus, you can find tongue drums in certain large stores like Cultura or Nature&Découvertes. Here too, compare, try and see the quality/price ratio of the instrument according to your needs and your budget. Do not hesitate to ask questions to the salesmen, and if you do not have enough information do not rush.
In physical shops, from 50 euros to sometimes 900 euros, the price range is very wide as well as the models proposed and the possibilities of playing are obviously affected. Try to distinguish between a 15 cm tongue drum made in China with 6 notes that costs about 50 euros and a Zenko Element tongue drum from Metal Sounds, for example, that costs 249 euros. Apart from the price difference, the quality of the instrument, the clarity of the sound and the tuning accuracy are also on a different level.
You will find a wide range of steel tongue drums in many music shops and retail outlets. And if you want to know if there is a shop near you that carries ZENKO steel tongue drums, check out our dealer map.
Buy my steel tongue drum on the internet
This is definitely the most common way to buy a steel tongue drum these days. You will find on the internet all kinds of tongue drums, at all prices, and of very variable quality! On the web the names sometimes vary. The term steel tongue drum or simply tongue drum, is declined under other names such as tank drum, buta drum, hank drum, and sometimes even "handpan", a big mistake which will not fail to question the level of competence of the dealer!
When it comes to buying a tongue drum on the internet, let's face it, it's a jungle! The instrument is in fashion and many retailers are rushing into this market. Some of them clearly don't know what they're talking about, and just offer a product without any expertise or after sales service. It is therefore quite difficult for newcomers to find their way around and make the right choice. It's impossible to give you all the tricks here, but a few sound tips should be enough to help you avoid the pitfalls.
- If possible, avoid the marketplaces because almost all the steel tongue drums on offer come from Asia and are sometimes of very average quality. It is difficult to get out of this reflex, as we have all become accustomed to consuming easily and quickly on this type of site. Many affiliates promote video tongues drums and refer to Amazon for example. But be aware that the quality and guarantees in case of problems with the instrument often leave something to be desired. You can find a few serious merchants who are worth your while, but when it comes to musical instruments, be aware that there are regularly unpleasant surprises and disappointments!
- Favour the sites of French and/or European manufacturers or those of specialised shops which offer numerous models at different prices. You will have a level of quality, advice and customer care generally much higher than those found on the marketplaces, a very important point when buying a musical instrument.
- Analyse the customer reviews and make sure they are true (verified reviews). Check that the reviews are as much about the products as the quality of the services offered. A good way of gauging the seriousness of the merchant is to check whether they respond to reviews when there has been a problem to deal with.
- Finally, never buy your musical instrument on a website that does not clearly mention its Siret number, its legal notices and its postal address. If this information is missing, it smells like a scam or at least the site does not respect the laws in force, and above all you will be unable to have recourse in the event of a problem. With this type of website you risk receiving a poorly made instrument, or worse, never receiving your order!
In summary, the following channels should be used in order of preference for buying a tongue drum
On a specialist website
Going to a specialist is usually a guarantee of expertise and sound advice. However, there are still few online shops dedicated to steel tongue drums. You will often find the websites of the manufacturers themselves and some shops specialising in percussion or wellness instruments. As said before, this is an excellent option that we recommend, provided that you check the authenticity of the merchant by respecting the few rules stated above!
On a generalist website
A large offer of tongue drums on the net can be found on generalist websites.
You can find very good instruments on this type of site, just as you can find poor quality tongue drums. So beware of tongue drums from Asia, which may be badly tuned, badly finished and above all question the quality of customer service.
Also keep in mind that it is difficult to get the same level of expertise and responsiveness from a generalist site as you would from a specialist site, or even a manufacturer.
On a Market-place
Buying a steel tongue drum on a Marketplace is possible but in our opinion is not the best option. You might be tempted to use this channel, which is perhaps part of your buying habits. But the prices are not necessarily cheaper and above all the problem is the absence of after-sales service in case of a problem. It is not uncommon, after a few months, to find that the tongue drum you bought on Amazon - or on its French competitor Cdiscount - to name but two, is defective. Indeed, there are many testimonies on the networks denouncing the problems and the lack of guarantees linked to the instruments.
Buying my second-hand steel tongue drum from a private individual
An interesting option for those who have a limited budget but wish to acquire a quality tongue drum is to buy a used tongue drum. Turning to a private individual to buy a tongue drum is a solution that works well, provided you are already well informed about this type of instrument, are an experienced player, or really take the time to find the right tongue drum for you.
Beware of overly attractive advertisements, whether on dedicated Facebook groups, on platforms such as Ebay, or even LeBonCoin. Low prices can be a sign of a poor quality instrument, or even a scam. Ask for a video with the instrument in question and listen to it with headphones to get a good idea of the sound.
Remember that unlike online shops, you will not have a 14-day cooling-off period to return your instrument. It is therefore generally very complicated to return a product that does not suit you, within the framework of a sale between individuals.
In conclusion, as you will have understood, today you can buy a tongue drum via numerous distribution channels, whether from a manufacturer, in a physical shop, on an internet site (specialised or generalist) or even through a private individual.
Take the necessary precautions depending on the sales channel you choose (avoid market places as much as possible) and check that the customer's reassurance criteria are present and authentic.
Remember that in terms of musical instruments, it is important to think about the quality of the instrument and the after-sales service offered. And for those of you who are thinking of acquiring a tongue drum made in France with a high level of quality, you can consult the Zenko tongue drum section of our website. There you will find the different models we make as well as free teaching aids to learn how to play them.
We also have a showroom in our workshop (34725 - Saint-André-De-Sangonis), where all our instruments are displayed. So don't hesitate to come and meet us, you can try them out and even see how we make our instruments if you are interested in arts and crafts!
Did you like this article? Would you like to receive more information about the tongue drum? Sign up below for our NEWSLETTER!