Before the article............

"EDITORIAL": I am SO dismayed to see a Swiss-made hang drum sell for almost 
$10,000 on E-bay!! All this can serve to do is jack the price up across the 
board and make these beautiful instruments only affordable to the rich. 
I see my sincere desire to someday have my own slipping away from me! 

Later note:
PLEASE NOTE: A real, Swiss-made hang drum is VERY difficult to obtain 
these days. A ray of hope is on the horizon however-- Pantheon Steel, 
a maker of beautiful steel drums ("steel pans") is researching and 
experimenting -- with the intention of producing hang drums (under 
a different name) for sale. Please contact them at 
and encourage them! They're looking for signs of interest at this time.

This thing was born of frustration at being infatuated
with the hang-Drum, but not being able to do anything
about it, their being unavailable, short of travelling
to Switzerland. 

So -- what to do ?  --- Invent something that has the
same playing layout as a hang drum & plays with a 
similar slappytapping hand action. Thus this PVC "beauty"
(yeah, they're golf-balls!)
CLICK HERE for a short YouTube video showing this instrument being played

I've worked all the bugs out of this thing and it sounds 
good - just not much like a metal hang. Using stock bronze-
wound guitar strings, as you might expect, it sounds somewhat 
like a guitar, but, I think, pleasingly different. In any 
event, it's a real instrument and a whole lot of fun to play.

Having strings and adjustable tuning gears, you can put this
instrument in any hang scale you wish very easily. I have been 
fascinated with D minor pentatonic, where mine remains most of
the time. It sounds in the same octave as a metal hang-Drum.

Most of the parts are readily available at any lumber/hardware store.
A few of the items can be bought at Wal-Mart. I got the guitar tuning 
gears from for about $11. Strings came from Wal-Mart
(their "First Act" brand which was on sale for a buck a set (two sets
are needed to get enough of the proper gauge strings for this instrument).
The tube was made from a single piece of 1/4" Luan mahogany handi-panel
that cost $4 at Home Depot. Total cost for this stringed "hang-Drum" was 
on the order of $20 (June, 2007 prices).
Like a lot of things on my webpage, not much is critical or fussy --
not the tube diameter, heigth, length of striker mechanisms, etc.
A few things might better be made closely though:
- Make the slot in D just fit H -- not too loose or tight.
- Location of the brad-hole in G
- The whapper-head ("I") is made wide so it won't ever miss the string.
  Make sure it's "aimed" properly.
- Ensure that the loose joint where A meets G IS loose (but not too loose).
That's about all the somewhat fussy stuff. 

The Low D ("ding") string & mechanism, being mostly mounted inside the tube, 
is not the easiest to install -- I made a temporary "jig" ("W") that greatly
eased this installation.

By experimenting with where the hole in "G" was drilled, I got the "action"
down to a very easy 3/8" (ie: golf-ball half moves 3/8" when tapped).
In this light, make sure the pony-tail rubber-bands are light-weight and
long enough so "pushing-pressure" at the golf-ball is just enough to 
reset the mechanism. A heavier band makes it hard to push.

This choice of guitar strings maintains the same string-tension as on a guitar:
- For the Low "D" (the central "ding")--- use a guitar Low E string & make 
  string-length _(tba)_mm long
- For the Low A --- use a guitar A string, make string-length _(tba)_mm long
- For the Low C --- use a guitar D string & make string-length _(tba)_mm  long
- For the D --- use a guitar D string, make string-length _(tba)_mm  long
- For the F --- use a guitar G string & make string-length _(tba)_mm long
- For the G --- use a guitar G string, make string-length _(tba)_mm long
- For the High A--- use a guitar B string & make string-length _(tba)_mm long
- For the High C --- use a guitar B string & make string-length _(tba)_mm long

Dennis Havlena - W8MI 
Mackinac Straits, northern Michigan

Click here to access my webpage