My first steel pan

by Marisa
(Joliet, IL USA)

I really want to learn how to play the steel pan. My Husband thinks that I'm crazy but I am totally serious. I want to be able to play the harmony of songs. What should I look for? I see that the guitar center sells a mini one but I read somewhere else that I shouldn't get one of those because it is not a true steel drum. Can you please help me?


Thank you!
------------------------------------------------------------

The mini steel pans have fewer notes than the full size pans and usually the quality of the sound is not that great! Most people consider them toys or souvenirs. If you are serious about playing the steel pan I would recommend getting a full size instrument.

Any of the frontline steel pans will work i.e. Tenor pan (also called lead/soprano pan), Double Tenor pan (also called double lead pan), Double Seconds pan (also called alto pan). All of them can play melody and harmony but the double seconds and double tenor can handle harmony better than the tenor pan.

The tenor pan however is only one drum while the double tenor and double seconds have two drums each. The tenor is easier to carry and takes up less space. It is also a little cheaper. Because of this most people get a tenor pan as their first steel pan.

For more information on these instruments check the Steel Pan Family page on this website.

Marisa, I wouldn't worry about your husband. When you start playing your new steel pan I'm sure he will get jealous and want to play as well :-)

Good luck! Let me know if you have any more questions.

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Three years ago I decided to start steel pan lessons, and started to learn on the double seconds, within 6 months I decided to buy my own double seconds pan and have been playing since. It is the most satisfying hobby that I have ever tried, and the sense of accompolishment when you can play with a group and the crowd appreciates the music is most overwelming. Good luck. My husband has not yet decided to learn but I can see that he envies me finding such satisfaction. He is also very proud that I have progressed so much.

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