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Tongue Drum of the Month: Idiopan Steel Tongue Drums


by Max Holmquist May 08, 2020

We recently moved our entire selection of Idiopan Steel Tongue Drums over to our new store, World Percussion Unlimited. Click here to see what we have available!

What is an Idiopan?

Idiopan has been making tunable steel tongue drums since 2010. They were inspired by tank drums, but the makers wanted something that would produce a clean tone without the "tankiness". What they came up with was an instrument with warm, rich sounds, able to be tuned to hundreds of scales using their unique magnet tuning system. They've teamed up with EnSoul Music Designs to develop a full line of these amazing instruments.

Comparing the Different Idiopan Models

They're made in 4 sizes and 5 models. They're available in a wide and ever-changing array of colors. There are 100's of possible tunings and you're able to purchase them with or without an electric pick-up for amplified playing.

Bella
This style has a 6" diameter and has 6 notes. It comes tuned to the G Major pentatonic scale (G4, A4, B4, D5, E5, G5) with A=440 Hz. It has a rich, sweet tone.

Lunabell
This style has an 8" diameter and features 8 notes. It comes pre-tuned to the A Major pentatonic scale (E4, A4, B4, C#5, E5, F#5, A5, B5) with A=440 Hz. It has a Soprano voice with lots of brightness and clarity. It is tunable in 2 octaves and to A=432 Hz.

Domina
This style has a 12" diameter with 8 notes. It comes pre-tuned to the C Major pentatonic scale (G3, C4, D4, E4, G4, A4, C5, D5) with A=440 Hz. It has an Alto voice with warm, clear tones, tunable in 3 octaves and to A-432 Hz. With bigger tongues, it is easier to strike and sits comfortably on the lap.

Dominus
This style has a 14" diameter and features 10 notes. It comes pre-tuned to the G Major pentatonic scale (E3, G3, A3, B3, D4, E4, G4, A4, B4, D5) with A=440 Hz. It sings in full bass tones without losing the crisp, clarity of the high overtones. It is tunable in 4 octaves.

Dual-Tone
This has a 14" diameter with 10 notes. It comes pre-tuned to the E Major pentatonic scale (B2/B3, E3/E4, F#3/F#4, G#3/G#4, B3/B4, C#4/C#5, E3/E4, F#4/F#5), with each tongue featuring both a higher and lower octave for each tongue. It can also be tuned to the E Minor pentatonic scale. To activate a single tongue for a given note, the player can mute the higher or lower octave by muting the tongue with their finger.

Caring for Your Idiopan

Each Idiopan is hand-buffed with liquid wax and a microfiber cloth before it ships. They use the Roosebeck Microfiber Polishing Cloth and Turtle Wax™ Super Hard Shell wax to leave a smooth finish.

If you noticed smudges, smears, fingerprints, cloudiness, etc. on your Idiopan, you can clean it using rubbing alcohol and a soft, non-abrasive cloth. You'll want to apply a new coat of wax (make sure it has a "Hard Shell" finish). A small amount of wax does the trick.

IMPORTANT: DO NOT USE WAX OR CLEANER ON THE INSIDE OF THE TONGUES and DO NOT LET WAX BUILD UP IN THE GROOVES AROUND THE TONGUES!

The powder-coated finish on your Idiopan should last for years with a little bit of care.

Pick-up or no pick-up?

That is the question, right? Or at least it's A question. Most styles and sizes have both options. It all depends on what you want to do with it. If you want to plug into your amp to play loud, you'll want the pickup.

It is possible to install a pickup yourself if you purchase the acoustic model and later decide you want to "turn it up to 11" as they say. All current models have a pre-drilled hole for the pickup. You'll want to search for and purchase the Roosebeck Contact Pick-up with a quarter-inch jack and a highpass filter. It is specially designed for the Idoipan and arrives with instructions.

Idiopan Issues (Buzzing, Dullness, etc.)?

Sometimes, you'll be playing your new Idiopan for a few weeks and suddenly, one day, there's a weird noise you'd never noticed before. It's not a joyous sound, no, it is a buzz or a strange tone.

Don't worry! It could just be lint or some other small obstruction. These tiny, minor little things can hinder the vibration and mute the resonance.

You'll want to clean the cuts the tongues. One way to do this is to take a business card and insert in the slit, running the card around the edge to clear any obstructions.

If that doesn't fix it, clean the inside and bottom of each tongue. You can do this with a microfiber cloth (be careful not to disturb the electronics of the pick-up if yours has one).

Last, if that doesn't work, remove each magnet and inspect for dust. Clean each one and under the tongues and then re-install the magnet.




Max Holmquist
Max Holmquist

Author




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