feeltone handpans, tank drums and steeldrums
percussive - spherical - meditative - melodic
Spacedrums - Kigonkis - Zenkos - Steel Drums
Steel drums are made of oil drums of the higher hazard class with quite hard steel. They were developed in the Caribbean, when after the Second World War the Americans left a lot of oil barrels there. At first, the barrels were used as protest drums. Then, when players discovered that denting them produced different, very precise sounds, they... read more >
Steeldrums are made from oil drums of the higher hazard class with quite hard steel. They were developed in the Caribbean, when after the Second World War the Americans left lots of oil drums there. At first, the barrels were used as protest drums. Then, when players discovered that denting them produced different, very precise tones, music-loving tinkerers used the simplest hammers to work on the dents until they could play well-known pieces of music up to classical.
Today, a competition is held every year at the Trinidad airport, where bands of up to 100 players perform against each other to award the best and most virtuosic. The first German steel drum manufacture was founded in the 1980s by Eckart C. Schulz in Dortmund, Germany, who also later founded a steel drum school. For many years we sold Steeldrums in different sizes from ECS and made them known worldwide. At that time there were hardly any manufacturers outside the Caribbean. In the beginning ECS used original drums, sawed off one side (depending on the pitch of the drum) and drove the bottom inwards to the playing surface, then drove the notes back in small fields, this principle of bump and counter-bump allows free swinging of the notes, which are now tuned by increasing or decreasing the tension with the hammer.
Then, at the end of the 1990s, the Swiss Felix Rohner came up with the idea of gluing two of these bumped playing surfaces against each other and a new instrument was born, the Hang, which is "Bernese German" and means hand. At that time we were the first wholesalers for this still worldwide very popular instrument. A much higher demand in terms of supply has given the instrument very turbulent times and ensured that today there are an infinite number of manufacturers of this instrument all over the world, each with their own signature.
We appreciate and respect from our own experience the qualitative and individual manufacturing process of small companies more than of companies that want to make as much money as quickly as possible. Many instruments today come from Columbia, Bali or China and currently the market is flooded with significantly overpriced instruments where the margin is on the side of the dealers and not the manufacturers.
It is also important to keep in mind that HandPans are dented steel drums, where after the manufacturing process the steel always has the tendency to change back to its original position. This is not possible without changes in tone, i.e. the drum goes out of tune by itself after a while. It is therefore recommended to retune the pan every few years, depending on the frequency of playing. Now, I wouldn't send my pan back to China or Columbia, and there aren't many local tuners who have mastered the craft perfectly. It should be remembered that it took about 5 years to rebuild the original "Hang", this is certainly also due to the knowledge that sits in the wrists of the tuner, you do not learn that from now on.
We work with Metal Sounds in Toulouse and are very satisfied with the quality of the Space Drums and also the re-tuning service and especially with the spirit of the company.
Out of necessity to get said "hangs" in the early 2000s, (first generation instruments are still being offered for up to 10,000,- € ), tinkerers around the world developed TankDrums - metal slotted drums from sawed-off gas cylinders. These easy-to-manufacture instruments, whose reeds are usually cut out in series by water jet or laser and only need to be fine-tuned, are usually suitable for an individual, often spacy colored and very artistic finish. There are countless tunings and special features. The definite advantage of TankDrums is they can't get out of tune. The one with the most reverb is a Kigonki Lulu, which has the notes doubled on the back. By striking the tones on the top, the tones on the bottom are excited, go into resonance and open a large reverberant space that invites slow, meditative sounds and listening.
For more fast and percussive playing, the shorter sound of the Zencos is advantageous, the tone arrangement also serves to prepare the playing style for its big sister the Space Drum Evolution, which also has a long sustain. The closest to the original "Hang" is the Space Drum Nitro with the tarnish colors of the metal, the short, rather dry percussive sound of the sound fields and the opening at the bottom, which allows the bassy Udu sound.
Of course, we still offer the Meditation Steeldrums from the master steel drum company ECS.