Best Steel Pan Drum: Learn Your Options

Only the best steel pan drum extends your options when it comes to making flawless music. It doesn’t matter whether you are an experienced musician or a newcomer. If you are just looking for how to play the drums for beginners, you may want to start with searching for a proper tool. Many famous drummers advise this instrument to start your practice with. Make no mistake; you still have to learn to play it and do it properly.

My top choice is the Panyard Jumbie Jam Kit, which already has everything you need, including the table and steel pan of 16 inches. I like that it is a reliable US-based company, and I can always get in touch with the developers. Besides, the music I can get with this instrument is unique, exotic, and melodic. There are also notes right on the drum for the novice players. My second choice would be another steel drum of high quality and wide possibilities from Panyard. The premium pick is Steel Drum Source’s creation – a 14-inches drum. If you are looking for alternatives, check out chrome-finished Jumbie Jam from Panyard and Steel Drum Source’s Play-Along drum.

Top 5 Best Steel Pan Drums

  1. Panyard Jumbie Jam Kit
  2. Panyard W1070
  3. Steel Drum Source Kit
  4. Panyard Authentic Jumbie Jam
  5. Steel Drum Source Play-Along

Before you find the instrument that suits you the best, get familiar with every steel pan drum review on my list. I have picked only the prime offers on the market, each of high quality and affordable price. You may quickly learn how to play steel pan with the right instruments like these. Improve your performance with these Caribbean steel drums.

1. Panyard Jumbie Jam Kit – Beginner Steel Drum with the Guide

Panyard Jumbie Jam Steel

Panyard Inc was founded in 1990. It is a relatively young company with top products inspired by Trinidad melodies. They are focused on steel drums and are constantly improving their quality. While the manufacturer is located in Ohio, their drums are on-demand around the world. I believe that this kit is ideal for both professional musicians and beginners, that’s why I have put it on the top of the list. It contains everything from mallets and a G-Major steel pan to a carrying case where you can put it after the performance.

Features:

  • Size: 16 inches;
  • Weight: 4.44 pounds;
  • Materials: high-quality steel;
  • Extra features: note letters are located on the drums;
  • The kit includes a pan, mallets, a table stand, a guide, and a carrying case.

This kit is an amazing present to everyone who is interested in Caribbean sounds or wants to learn how to play. It contains everything, so you don’t have to go buy a stand or mallets additionally. I also enjoy the deep sound of this instrument. I recommend you pack this drum every time you finish the practice. Avoid leaving it outside, especially if it is raining.

Panyard Jumbie Jam Steel Ready to Play Kit-Silver G-Major with Table Top Stand-Made in USA Authentic...
303 Reviews
Panyard Jumbie Jam Steel Ready to Play Kit-Silver G-Major with Table Top Stand-Made in USA Authentic...
  • Authentic Steel Pan for all ages and playing ability - Made in USA - All steel high quality & durable instrument Fantastic gift item!
  • Fun to Play & Easy to Learn - great for family music making - play along with other instruments

PROS:
  • Note letters are on the drum;
  • Everything is included in the kit;
  • High quality steel;
  • Detailed guide;
  • Trustable developers.
CONS:
  • The price is higher compared to other instruments on the list.

2. Panyard W1070 – Simple-to-Play Steel Pan

Panyard Steel Drum W1070

This second steel drum was also created by the American-based Panyard company. They provide durable instruments of steel to the US and other countries. If you are looking for a steel pans instrument with adjustable legs to play Caribbean tunes, pay attention to this runner-up. As far as I’ve heard, many schools prefer this drum for their music lessons. It is simple to learn and incredibly pleasant to listen to. You may choose whether you want a gray color of the pan or a blue one.

Main features:

  • Size: 16 inches wide;
  • Weight: 12.7 ounces;
  • Materials: high-quality steel, wooden sticks;
  • Extra features: the pan is covered with note letters; the kit includes a height stand, a drum, mallets, and a songbook.

You can’t play wrong using this instrument. There are 8 notes in G Major. This is why I believe it is a highly relaxing instrument. You can forget about all your worries, enjoying the pure sound of the steel drum. Just follow the instructions in the songbook. You can learn popular melodies while simply having fun. Don’t forget that the floor stand is adjustable, and you can push it up or down depending on your height.

Panyard Steel Drum, (W1070)
240 Reviews
Panyard Steel Drum, (W1070)
  • Authentic high quality Steel drum for all ages (3+) and musical abilities
  • Sounds as good as a professional instrument, at an affordable price, creating soothing melodic sounds that are pleasant to hear

PROS:
  • Easy to learn;
  • High durability;
  • Adjustable stand;
  • Signed notes.
CONS:
  • Loud sounds may disturb your family.

3. Steel Drum Source Kit – Steel Drum Pan of 14 inches

Steel Drum Source 14 inch Steel Drum

This premium pick was created by the Steel Drum Source company that produces a wide range of quality drums made of steel. They provide learning DVDs and songbooks for their instruments as well. They offer the tools directly from the Caribbean Islands. According to the developers, their main goal is to provide reliable instruments for the lowest price. This pack contains drums, sticks, a booklet, a DVD with instructions, and a stand.

Main features:

  • Size: 14 inches diameter;
  • Weight: 9 pounds;
  • Materials: a steel drum and wooden sticks;
  • Extra features: the pack includes a DVD with the tutorial; the drum’s surface is covered with the note letters you need to study.

This drum is smaller than previous ones, which also makes it more beneficial for small rooms. This cheap steel drum provides a high-quality sound as well. I also like the detailed booklet and great DVD that comes with the drum. I believe it is a great way to learn to play an instrument.

14-inch Steel Drum from 'Steel Drum Source' w/ Sticks, Stand, Music Booklet and Free Instructional...
8 Reviews
14-inch Steel Drum from "Steel Drum Source" w/ Sticks, Stand, Music Booklet and Free Instructional...
  • Handmade Caribbean Steel Drum Package.
  • Includes Steel Drum (14-inch face and 3-inch sides).

PROS:
  • Deep sound of drums;
  • DVD with tutorials;
  • Stand comes in the pack;
  • Compact size;
  • Affordable price.
CONS:
  • It has a limited range of sounds.

4. Panyard Authentic Jumbie Jam – Chromatic Steel Drum Kit

Jumbie Jam Authentic Steel Drum

I have already discussed multiple Panyard’s benefits. I like this company, this dedicated-to-music bunch of people. Its founder had spent years researching Caribbean music in Trinidad before he came back to the USA and decided to create these drums. I also like the complete pack that comes when you order the drum. It includes not only a drum with the chrome finish, but mallets, a floor stand, a songbook, instructions, and audio tracks so that you can copy the sound. The drum contains note letters on it for the simplicity of learning.

Main features:

  • Size: 17 inches;
  • Weight: 6.58 pounds;
  • Materials: steel with a chrome finish, wooden sticks;
  • Extra features: high durability, 5 audio tracks, G Major 8 notes.

If you believe that a single key of G Major is not enough for you, you will be amazed at how many songs you can actually play there. Start with this steel drum and become a professional. This is the best steel pan of great value for those who want to learn steel drums but don’t know the notes. It will teach you in no time.

Jumbie Jam Authentic Steel Drum Kit Chrome Finish with Tube Floor Stand
42 Reviews
Jumbie Jam Authentic Steel Drum Kit Chrome Finish with Tube Floor Stand
  • Authentic high quality steel drum for all ages (3+) and musical abilities
  • Sounds as good as a professional instrument, at an affordable price, creating soothing melodic sounds that are pleasant to hear

PROS:
  • Steel drum of high quality;
  • Detailed tutorial;
  • The instrument suits all ages, starting from 3+;
  • Adjustable stand;
  • Competitive price.
CONS:
  • G Major key limited.

5. Steel Drum Source Play-Along – Mini Steel Pan Drum with Booklet

Steel Drum Source Steel Drum with Sticks

Though the company Steel Drum Source is still new on the market, it provides a wide range of drums of high-quality steel at affordable prices. This drum is hand-made and stylish. The music notes are signed on the surface. The pack includes a lightweight stand that you can adjust up to your height. There are 2 wooden sticks with tips made from latex. The package also contains a DVD with detailed instructions and a tutorial.

Main features:

  • Size: 12.5 inches wide; the sides are 3 inches;
  • Weight: 3 pounds;
  • Materials: steel, wood, plastic, rubber;
  • Extra features: there is a booklet of songs that contains well-known tunes; this instrument is incredibly lightweight.

You can experiment with different styles of music playing this metal pan drum. It is easy to carry, mainly because it is almost weightless. It has a compact drum that you can place in your room.

Steel Drum with Sticks, Stand, 'Play along' DVD and Booklet
17 Reviews
Steel Drum with Sticks, Stand, "Play along" DVD and Booklet
  • Hand made Caribbean Mini Steel Drum Package.
  • Includes Mini Steel Drum (12.5 inch face and 3 inch sides)

PROS:
  • Compact design;
  • Lightweight;
  • Contains a DVD in the pack;
  • The notes are on the drum;
  • Affordable price.
CONS:
  • It requires an extra carry bag for better protection.

Buyer’s Guide on Steel Pan Drum

No matter which pan steel drums you choose from the list, they are all good. However, you have to understand that they differ not only by their size but the range of songs and tunes you can perform. If you want to play steel pan drums music, you may require extra information about this instrument.

What is a steel pan drum?

There are numerous names you can hear when it comes to describing only one instrument, from steel pan to steel drum or simple pan. This musical instrument has come to us from Trinidad and Tobago. The most popular type of music played on this instrument is the Caribbean, but you don’t have to limit yourself to one genre. The group of musicians with steel drum lead pan is called the orchestra. Several steel drums in the group make it a steelband. The pans in these instruments are made of steel drum containers. Usually, they are stricken with pan sticks or mallets made of wood. The classic type is 2 sticks, but some musicians use four with two in every hand.

The size of the instrument can vary. I have gathered the most popular options for you, which are 14 and 16 inches in diameter. They are the most suitable for learning and practicing. All steel pan drums come with a stand made of steel or plastic tubes. These stands have adjustable heights and should hold pans tightly.

Beginner’s guide: How to play steel pan?

Though I can’t entirely teach you how to play here, I want to provide a few tips that may come in handy for everyone who has recently discovered a steel pan instrument. Follow the next steps.

Step 1. Pick the right tool

Decide whether you want to play only Caribbean music or not, whether you need a bigger pan or a lighter one. All the instruments on the list are affordable. All the items come with everything you can need to make music.

Step 2. Learn music notes

There are notes right on the drums I have recommended. You don’t have to learn them thoroughly if you are too busy, and you still will be able to play the instrument. However, it is an essential start for those who want to master their skills. You will be able to read notes of every song you want to play.

Step. 3 Practice a lot

“A lot” means much more than one day a week or month. If you want to become a skillful pannist or the next Ellie Mannette, you have to live with the music. But if you use the pan as a kind of therapy, you don’t have to follow the schedule at all. Just relax and play it whenever you feel you are ready.

How to choose the best steel pan drum?

Before you order the steel pan drum, pay attention to the following features:

  • The size. You have to know which size you want or at least which size you can squeeze into the limited space of your room or music class.
  • The brand. It may be not so important to you. However, I prefer to pay attention to the brand’s story and its reputation. I also appreciate the ability to get in touch with them directly.
  • Materials. They are all made of steel with chrome coating. However, there is a big difference between high-quality and poor-quality steel. Extra thin or thick steel will not work either.
  • Range of music styles. I can play versatile music on every drum I have mentioned on my list. You still have to be careful with it, especially if you want to create a hard-rock group, for example. Check its compatibility with other instruments.

Popular Questions About Steel Pan Drum

If you still have some questions left, you may check out this section. Perhaps, you will find your answers here. If you have something to add, feel free to do it in the comments.

What are the different types of steel drums?

There are different types of drums that are highly important for professional musicians. The most popular types are double tenor, tenor, double second, cello steel drum, guitar steel drum, and the bass. They all have different purposes. You can start with the universal G Major key instruments.

How much is a steel pan drum?

The prices on the market vary based on the quality, features, and type of the instrument. The lowest price I have encountered is $160 for the kit. The highest one is up to $1000 and more. The average price for a decent kit is $190-200. Considering the advantages you will get with this instrument, the prices are fair.

Are steel drums hard to play?

It depends on the melody you want to play and your level of music knowledge. However, steel drums are considered to be one of the least hard instruments. There are 8 notes, signed on the drum’s surface. It is hard to play wrong. If you want to learn more, you have to be ready to spend more time with this instrument.

Why is the steel pan instrument also called the steel drum?

The drum in the name refers to the containers made of steel which you have to hit with sticks to get the sound. Yet, the more correct name is steel pan, since this instrument belongs to the family of the idiophone, not drums.

Which Steel Pan Drum to Choose?

If you want to buy the best drum, you have to learn all the major offers on the market. As there are numerous of them, I have cut the affordable options to top-5 instruments that I consider worthy of your attention.

If you already have one of those drums, please share your opinion about it in the comments below. What music do you play on this drum? How often do you practice? Which features do you like the most?

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

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