Steel Drums/Steel Drum Pans and the Solid Hoop Innovation

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Steel Drums/Steel Drum Pans and the Solid Hoop Innovation

If you are into Steel Drums or Steel Pans by now you may heard of the new big thing in steel drums technology called the Solid Hoop steel drums or the big pans. It’s a bigger drum than the usual 55 gallon oil drums. The new steel drums (solid hoop steel pan) are being made from an 85 gallon drum, the bigger drums give more room for the notes its now at least two inches between each not, more clarity in the notes, better note separation and better harmonics.

It seems that the biggest hurdle in steel drum construction over many years has been solved, that is note seperation and clarity. Unless you are a pan enthusiast you probably wouldn’t know whether a steel drum pan is perfectly pitched or the harmonics are sound many times a steel drum pan that sounds nice to the average ear usually have notes interfering with each other, like an A note pulling from a C# note or Bb note pulling from an F# note. The solid hoop technology solves this issue and provides more note clarity. With the new technology its now two inches between each note making it impossible for one note to seep into the other, because of the space separation its like the other have to cross a creek to interfere with the other note. Tuners now have more room to work with to achieve note solidity an A note now sounds like a crystal clear A note.

While most steel drum players and makers endorse the new technology other are not comfortable with the change. Some argue its too big, difficult to sink and some say the same sound could be derived from the smaller 55 gallon oil drums. I’m guessing there were some die hard players and makers holding out on the bore pan / holes around the notes technology as well years ago, today every player wants a bore pan.

With Every Innovation, change or something different there will be critics and hold outs. As a professional Steel Drum Player for more than twenty years nothing could be better than the solid hoop direction in steel drum. It’s better harmonics and better separation of the notes which leads to clarity of the individual note, no more A note pulling from C# note and Eb pulling from a G note. You should be able to take a steel drum pan anywhere in the world and play with any other band or instrument with note precision.

Here’s to improving the steel drum instrument and moving forward. No more running to the tuner every two months because a G Note wouldn’t hold.

Ephraim Adams
Professional Steel Drum Player
RythmTrail Steel Drum Band


  1. Timothy Gutierrez says:

    I’m looking for an oversized 85 gallon lead from low A
    I already have one that goes up 3 octaves
    Is that something you do?
    If so any video?

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