Engineering the Perfect Reggae Jam: How to Make a Steel Drum from Scratch

Watch a flat sheet of steel become a beautifully crafted steel drum

Typically, when you think of reggae songs, you don’t think of hard work and elbow grease. Usually the theme is sitting on a beach with an umbrella drink while watching the sunset. The instruments of reggae are a different story entirely, especially the steel drum.

Engineering the Perfect Reggae Jam: How to Make a Steel Drum from ScratchThe invention of the steel drum:

When African slaves were brought to the Caribbean, they brought the designs of their instruments with them. These were typically drums made from a wooden cylinder and a skin on top and sometimes the bottom. Since these instruments were normally considered contraband by the slave owners, the slaves had to continually re-create their drums with whatever materials they had at hand. Often drums were made from logs and bamboo shafts. Eventually drums made from these natural materials were outlawed too. In 1930’s Trinidad, creative percussionists began to use discarded oil drums to create their rhythms. As they pounded away on their songs they noticed the notes began to change, transforming it from a rhythmic to a melodic instrument.

Creating a modern steel drum is a much more precise undertaking. So longer are they made from garbage, they’re purpose built from scratch by experts. With more than 120 hours of precision fabrication, finishing and tuning a steel drum is no longer a cheap instrument.

Now lets hear some Steel-Drum Jams!

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Adam Beck

Director of Marketing at CADENAS PARTsolutions | A Marketing graduate from the Miami University, Farmer School of Business in Oxford Ohio, Adam has years of experience in marketing and design for a variety of industries.